Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp

Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp

Most of the times, we do not understand or know the difference between dandruff and dry scalp. This is a very common mistake due to which we fail to take the right treatment for the actual problem that exists. Most of the times, people just have a dry and itchy scalp and they take it to be dandruff. Due to this, they look for dandruff related treatment but get no results.

It is very important to know the very basic difference in order to treat the right problem in the right manner. The dry scalp does not mean having dandruff. It is just tight and itchy whereas dandruff is the dead skin in the hair. Dandruff can be oily or dry in itself but it has nothing to do with the scalp.                                            

 Difference between dandruff and dry scalp on the basis of symptoms



Oily, large flakes yellow or white flakes

Smaller dry flakes

Itchy scalp

Itchy scalp

Oily, red, scaly skin

Dry and flaky skin

Affects other parts of your body (eyebrows, groin, armpits, and sides of your nose)

Occurs only on scalp area


Let us learn in detail about the difference between dandruff and dry scalp separately.


Dry scalp is generally caused due to dehydration as most of the people do not drink enough water. This makes the skin itchy, flaky and irritated. Usually, people with dry skin are more susceptibility to dry scalp.   

There can be a number of the factor responsible for dry scalp


In addition, even the use of hard shampoos and conditioner or living in cold weather can be the cause of dry scalp. These days, most of the shampoos and conditioners are completely synthetic full of polymers or plastics, silicones, and allergens. All of these chemicals cause harm to both, hair and scalp. These shampoos and conditioners leave residues on the scalp which disrupts the acid mantle and weakens the hair follicles due to which, the scalp becomes vulnerable.


Some of the solutions for dry scalp are:

  1. Massage your scalp with oils like coconut, jojoba, and olive oil.
  2. Use SLS-free, sulphate-free and paraben-free shampoo and conditioners.
  3. Use of tea tree oil is quite effective to treat dandruff. Its powerful antiseptic properties kill dandruff-causing microbes.
  4. Fatty acid-rich oils would be very beneficial.
  5. Hydrate your body and at least drink 6-8 glasses of water every day.
  6. Include foods rich in vitamins B6 and B12, zinc and selenium in your diet.



Dandruff is a very common problem these days as many teens and adults experience it. Dandruff is characterized by white, oily-looking flakes of dead skin on your scalp.  Seborrheic dermatitis is the major cause of dandruff which affects the areas rich with oil glands. These areas may include eyebrows, groin, armpits, and sides of your nose.

Let us now know about some of the different types of dandruff:

  1. Dry Scalp Dandruff: It has little white flakes on a dry scalp.
  2. Oily Scalp Dandruff: It has oily flakes which can be small or large in size.
  3. Fungal Dandruff: It has large oily flakes with redness and crusting.
  4. Psoriasis: It has dry flakes which are silver in colour.
  5. Seborrheic Dermatitis: It is the most severe type of dandruff as it makes the scalp red, irritated, and oily. Not only are the flakes present, but there is also a possibility of the formation of sores.

There can be a number of factors responsible for dandruff

  • Stress can impair the immune system which thrives microbe Malassezia for causing dandruff. To know more read here
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Excessive consumption of sugar
  • Poor hygiene
  • Harsh weather conditions
  • Synthetic shampoos and conditioners
  • Fungal infections of the scalp
  • Oils secreted by the scalp
  • Sensitivity to certain hair products

Remember that dandruff is treatable but it is not curable but there are solutions for dandruff. Some of the solutions for dandruff are:

  1. Use SLS-free, sulphate-free and paraben-free shampoo and conditioners.
  2. Massage your scalp weekly.
  3. Shampoos and conditioners with anti-fungal and anti-septic properties would be beneficial for eradicating dandruff.


We hope that by now you must have understood the difference between dandruff and dry scalp. If you want to safeguard yourself from dandruff and dry scalp, make sure that you rinse out all the shampoo from your scalp properly. Avoid products which contain alcohol and bleach as they are very harsh chemicals which are harmful to the scalp. Also, it is very important to get some sun exposure directly on your hair as it helps in soothing the scalp.



Usually, the problem of dry scalp and dandruff can be managed at home. However, if one experience any of below-given condition then it becomes very important to take medical attention –

  • If home treatments do not work
  • Scalp psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes redness, flakes, and itching.
  • A form of severe dandruff called seborrheic dermatitis can cause intense and painful inflammation.
  • People suffering from an autoimmune disorder and chronic illness.

1 comment

  • Txs for the information and tips..very useful


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