Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp: Differences Based on Causes, Symptoms, Treatment

Hair is one of the most essential parts of our body that gives our personality a totally different look. So, it is important for us to take care of our hair and also scalp and keep them clean and neat, and also prevent them from several conditions such as dandruff and dry scalp. Though dandruff and dry scalp has some similarities, there are some crucial differences between the two. So, it is essential to know that these two conditions are totally different conditions. Below we will talk about some of the major differences between the two.

Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp: Basic Differences

Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp: Basic Differences

Dandruff is also known as Scurf and historically termed as Pityriasis capitis and is the excessive shedding of dead skin cells from the scalp. Dandruff can also be caused by frequent exposure to extreme cold and extreme heat.

Dry scalp can also cause itching that results in flakes of the skin that are white in color to fall off in small pieces.

Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp: Differences Based On The Symptoms

Dandruff may be the cause of itchy scalp. Dandruff is white or gray visible flakes falling off the head. The hair may also be oily, but still the flakes of skin keep falling off from the head. They can sometimes be as large as a quarter inch and have an oily feel to them. One more symptom of dandruff can be the scalp irritation or redness in the scalp, that does not go away after a simple washing.

Dry scalp can also have symptoms of itching. Dryness on the scalp leads to flakes of skin that are white in color, fall off in small pieces. This is generally accompanied by dryness on the rest of the body parts.

Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp: Differences Based On The Causes

For people with dandruff, skin cells may mature and shed in about 2-7 days, as opposed to around a month in people without dandruff. The result is that these dead skin cells are shed in large, oily clumps, which appear as grayish or white patches on the scalp, skin as well as clothes. Dandruff can be caused by some of the factors such as skin oil that is commonly referred to as sebum or sebaceous secretions, the metabolic by-products of the skin micro-organisms, especially Malassezia yeasts. Rarely, dandruff can also be caused due to an allergic reaction to chemicals in the hair gels, hair oils, or sometimes even dandruff medications such as Ketoconazole. There are evidences that food, especially sugar and yeast, climate and excessive perspiration, have significant roles in the pathogenesis of dandruff.

Dry scalp can be caused due to an alteration in temperature or humidity. For instance, in the winter, when the heater is on, the scalp is exposed to a very dry environment and this results in peeling and flaking.

Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp: Differnces Based On The Treatments

Anti-dandruff shampoos has ingredients for controlling dandruff. Salicylic acid removes dead skin cells from the scalp and reduces the rate at which these cells are created. Zinc pyrithione kills Pityrospora or the fungus that is responsible for dandruff. Selenium sulfide or Ketoconazole are also important in treating dandruff.

The easiest and most effective way to treat dry scalp is by having lots of water to re-hydrate your scalp. The natural oils in the hair should be allowed to regenerate by avoiding regular hair wash. A hair oil will let the body adjust to the new level of humidity in a few days and the scalp returns to normal.


Now we know about some of the differences between dandruff and dry scalp. You need to take care of yourself, for preventing dandruff and dry scalp. Wash your hair often with an anti-dandruff shampoo and make sure to rinse out all the shampoo so as to keep away from the dandruff. You also must avoid using hair products containing harsh chemicals, like alcohol and bleach, as these ingredients can dry out the scalp. You must also avoid oily hair products. Spending a few minutes in the sun every day is also good to control dandruff.

Talk to your hair specialist or your doctor if you have severe issues of dandruff or dry scalp.

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Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 1, 2018

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