Dandruff Vs. Dry Scalp: What's The Difference?

Written by Sumona BoseSep 16, 2023
Dandruff vs. dry scalp: What's the difference?

So, do you have dandruff or is your scalp just dry? Most of you must have often wondered about this and given how similar both conditions may seem, there are big differences between the two. It is important to differentiate the two because the best way to deal with each issue varies as well. Also, using harsh anti-dandruff shampoos when you might just have dry scalp, can be a recipe for disaster. Read on to find out how to differentiate between dandruff and dry scalp; plus, the best way to treat each…


1. What is dandruff, how is it caused and how does it look?

3. How to deal with dandruff and dry scalp?

Dandruff is a scalp condition that causes dry, white flakes on the scalp. It is a common condition that can never fully be cured, only controlled. Some of its major causes are excessive oil production by sebaceous glands, fungal infections, stress and irritation to hair care products.

Simply put, dandruff is a result of an overly oily scalp that serves as an excellent breeding ground for fungi, resulting in dead skin cells accumulating and sticking to your hair as white flakes. It can happen to anyone, regardless of the scalp hygiene you follow. The symptoms that pop up are itchiness of the scalp (or eyebrows), visible white flakes, and redness of the scalp (including flakes showing up on clothes) in extreme cases.


2. What is dry scalp, how is it caused and how does it look?

3. How to deal with dandruff and dry scalp?

A dry scalp is the result of lack of moisture in the scalp, overwashing hair, irritation from hair products, and environmental damage caused by sun exposure and pollution. And much like dry skin, dry scalp can also cause itching and flakiness (in extreme cases of dryness). The dry scalp presents itself as barely-there flakes and is often accompanied by dry hair as well.

Simply put, while dandruff is a direct cause of fungal growth on the overly oily scalp, dry scalp is simply a result of lack of moisture. Also, while a dry scalp can be easily remedied by controlling your shampoo usage or using hydrating ingredients, dandruff on the other hand needs proper treatment to be controlled.


3. How to deal with dandruff and dry scalp?

3. How to deal with dandruff and dry scalp?

Some of the most effective ways to deal with dandruff are:

  1. Use anti-dandruff shampoos with salicylic acid, ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide like the Dove Dandruff Clean & Fresh Shampoo to inhibit the growth of fungus on the scalp.
  2. Include omega-3 in your diet as the compound helps regulate oil production.
  3. Vitamin D supplements can help slow the rate of cell turnover; thus, helping with extreme cases of seborrheic dermatitis, and even psoriasis.
  4. Tea tree oil-infused hair care products have been known to offer relief from dandruff.
  5. Try to curb your stress levels as much as you can.

Some of the most effective ways to deal with dry scalp are:

  1. Use scalp scrubs to slough off dry, flaky patches of your scalp.
  2. Use a nourishing and gentle shampoo that doesn't strip your scalp of hydration too much.
  3. Avoid using alcohol-based hair products, they can strip your scalp of natural oils and cause flakiness.
  4. Limit hair washing days and use cold water to rinse your hair.
  5. Invest in a humidifier to add extra hydration to your hair.

Sumona Bose

Written by

Sumona Bose is a writer, skincare junkie and a self-professed makeup connoisseur. Equipped with a Master's degree in Fashion Management and over 3 years of experience writing in the beauty and fashion space, her passion for learning new things has no bounds. Working closely with dermatologists, beauty excerpts, makeup artists and hairstylists, she brings you the best of all things beauty. From trending skincare ingredients to makeup looks that help you slay, she manages to bring something new (and vital!) to our readers every single time. Her hobbies include home workouts, watching foreign films and binge-watching makeover shows!


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