We often face many problems related to hair health. One of these is dry scalp which is caused due to lack of moisture in the skin, whereas dandruff is caused by excess of oil on the scalp and Malassezia yeast. Dandruff is a bit difficult to cure but its symptoms can be reduced by shampoo.

Dandruff and dry scalp have the same main symptoms, such as hair fall and scalp itching, but they are two different conditions.

Dry scalp causes skin irritation and flaking. Dandruff is caused by too much oil on the scalp as well as an overgrowth of a yeast called Malassezia, which is already present on your skin. This excess oil causes hair loss. Let us understand the difference between the two.

Read more - (Home Remedies for Dandruff)

  1. Why Does Dry Scalp Occur
  2. Why Does Dandruff Occur
  3. Symptoms of Dandruff and Dry Scalp
  4. Treatment for Dandruff Scalp
  5. Treatment for Dry Scalp
  6. Other Scalp Treatments
  7. When to See a Doctor
  8. Summary

In a dry scalp, the scalp does not have enough oil to lubricate the skin and can cause itching, flaking, and irritation. This can also make hair look dry, because the oil released from the scalp helps condition the hair.

Dry scalp can occur due to the following reasons such as -

  • dry air, especially during the winter months
  • excessive hair washing

  • skin conditions, such as eczema

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Like the rest of the skin, the scalp also starts shedding dead skin cells and this is called dandruff. Dandruff flakes are actually dead skin cells. The faster the scalp removes dead skin, the more dandruff occurs.

  Dandruff can have the following causes like -

  • fungal infection of scalp
  • oily scalp 

  • Sensitivity to hair products

These three factors together can make dandruff worse. For example, people with fungal scalp infections who have sensitive skin or very oily scalp may have worse dandruff problems.

Most people have a fungus called Malassezia on their scalp which does not cause any problems. In people suffering from dandruff, this fungus causes irritation and flaking.

Read more - (Does Dandruff Cause Hair Loss)


Dry Scalp – People with dry scalp notice flakes coming off their scalp. However, unlike the flakes of actual dandruff, the flakes associated with dandruff in dry scalp are small and white.

Dandruff – In dandruff, the dandruff flakes may be large and yellow in color or may appear oily. Often, a fungus called Malassezia triggers dandruff. This fungus generally lives on your scalp. However, if you have too much of it, it causes your skin cells to grow faster than normal.

It is best to seek treatment to cure dandruff caused by fungal infections, while dry scalp can be improved by shampooing less frequently.

Both conditions can cause itching and burning of the scalp. If symptoms are severe, people with either condition may scratch their scalp so often that it becomes red or small sores develop.

Read more - (5 Best hair mask for dandruff)

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Most cases of dandruff can be treated easily at home. People suffering from dandruff should wash their hair regularly with anti-dandruff shampoo. Most dandruff shampoos contain pyrithione. Many times anti dandruff shampoo has a strong smell. Many times people use some other good smelling shampoo after anti dandruff shampoo. Others who prefer natural treatments, or who dislike the smell of dandruff shampoo, can also use tea tree oil shampoo as tea tree oil has antimicrobial properties.


Treating dry scalp is much the same as treating dry skin. Unlike dandruff which produces a lot of oil, dry scalp does not produce much oil from the scalp and is therefore a little easier to treat.

Use gentle shampoos – Too harsh formulas strip the scalp of its natural oils, so use moisturizing, natural ingredients.

Do not shampoo too often – Shampooing too often can dry out the scalp, so try to leave a few days between shampoos.

Apply oil on the scalp – Applying oil on the scalp can retain moisture on the scalp and it can soothe irritation. Take a few drops of oil and massage it on your scalp and after sitting in the sun, the oil will penetrate the scalp properly and it will also be very beneficial for dry hair.

Exfoliate the scalp – Exfoliation works great for dry scalp. You can do this with a scrub, or with a hair mask containing fruit enzymes, sugar or salicylic acid.

Drink plenty of water – Drinking water helps hydrate the skin and scalp.

Read More - (Home remedies for dry scalp)

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Spend a few minutes in the sun every day. There is evidence that ultraviolet (UV) rays help control dandruff. Managing your stress with meditation, yoga, deep breathing and other relaxation techniques are also beneficial.


If home remedies do not work, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

Both dandruff and dry scalp can usually be managed at home.

Scalp psoriasis, for example, causes redness, flaking, and itching but is caused by an autoimmune disorder. A form of severe dandruff called seborrheic dermatitis can cause intense, painful inflammation.

  • If there is redness or sores
  • home remedies don't work

  • have open wounds on the head or face

People with autoimmune disorders and chronic diseases should talk to their doctor before treating dandruff.

Read more - (Dry hair: Causes, prevention and treatment)

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No matter which dandruff shampoo you try, read the directions on the bottle and follow them carefully. If you're not sure which shampoo to use or how often to use it, ask a doctor or pharmacist for advice. Once your dandruff improves, you can reduce your use of shampoo.


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