Dandruff and Dry Scalp – Some Key Differences Between the Two

Dandruff and Dry Scalp

Dandruff and dry scalp often go hand in hand. This often leads people to believe that they are the same problem. But there are some points, which establish the basic differences between these two hair problems.

What are these key differences between dry scalp and dandruff? What causes them and what are the common remedies for them? Let’s find out.

Dry Scalp

How to identify: Loose and powdery flakes on your head are the tell-tale signs of a dry scalp. The scalp becomes red, irritated and accompanied by itchiness as a result. Dry scalp can also make your hair dull, dry and lifeless in appearance. Sometimes, a dry scalp can also lead to dandruff.


  • Dehydrated sebaceous glands: More often than not, dry scalp is caused by dehydrated sebaceous glands.These are the glands that produce natural oil and in the absence of the oil, the scalp automatically becomes dry.
  • Extreme weather conditions: Dry scalp is a prominent issue in extreme weather such as winters or summers.
  • Lack of hydration: Even when you do not drink enough water or intake sufficient liquids to stay hydrated, you may end up with a dry scalp.
  • Skin disorders: Common skin disorders such as psoriasis also cause dehydration of the scalp.
  • Dietary deficiencies: A number of dietary deficiencies may lead to a dry scalp.
  • Overuse of chemicals: Frequent use of products that contain harsh chemicals such as shampoos, hair mousse, hair sprays, gels etc. (especially the ones containing alcohol) can also lead to a dry scalp.


  • Hot oil therapy can temporarily alleviate dry scalp. Massage the scalp gently to stimulate it using any oil of your choice. Alternatively, you can also settle for a deep conditioning hair mask to restore the moisture.
  • Include Vitamin B6 and B12 in your diet. Have lots of fresh fruits, vegetables, grains, fortified cereals, pulses, poultry, fish, leafy greens etc. Try to avoid junk food, especially the ones that contain excess sugar and salt. Also, reduce your alcohol intake to retain moisture on the scalp.
  • Drink plenty of water, juices and other liquids to stay hydrated.


How to identify: The yellowish flakes of skin that spread all over the scalp is a sign of dandruff. The dandruff flakes are larger than the flakes in a dry scalp and stick to the skin of the scalp. It is accompanied by itching, tenderness and also, scalp odor at times.

It is a common problem and affects almost everyone at some or the other stage in their life. They may experience mild to severe dandruff, which leads to embarrassment when the flakes of skin are clearly visible on their hair or on their clothes. Dandruff is also said to trigger hair loss and hair fall.


  • Dry skin flakes: Dry skin is by far the most common cause of dandruff. The flakes in this type of dandruff are usually smaller and consist of less oil. This can occur not only on your scalp but also other parts of the body.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis: This is a common condition leading to dandruff. Characterized by red, greasy skin, you get flaky white or yellow scales on the scalp and various other areas of the body rich in oil glands.
  • Product buildup: Hair serums, gels, sprays, conditioners and mousse make your hair appear sleek and picture perfect. However, excess of these products on your scalp can lead to the clogging of pores and subsequently dandruff.
  • Skin problems: Chronic skin problems such as Eczema or Psoriasis can lead to dry, dead skin cells that are rough, red, flaky and scaly.
  • Malassezia: Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus and it is present on the scalps. It can often lead to scalp irritation and cause extra white and flaky skin cells to grow and fall off.
  • Hair care products: Certain hair care products may cause the scalp to get more sensitive, irritate it and cause dandruff. This is usually caused by chemicals present in products like hair dyes, styling gels or even shampoos.
  • Stress: A stressed out body and mind can also lead to dandruff.
  • Extreme temperatures: Extreme temperature conditions such as a heat or cold can also cause dandruff.
  • Diseases: Certain diseases like Parkinson’s disease and strokes can also cause dandruff.


People often trust a number of natural remedies or homemade treatments, which include lemon juice, aspirin, vinegar, baking soda, olive oil, coconut oil and aloe vera. These remedies, however, provide temporary relief from dandruff.

The same holds true for medicated, anti-dandruff shampoos that provide momentary dandruff relief.

But if you are looking forward to a more effective treatment, try the clinically-proven anti-dandruff lotion – D’free. It works overnight on the scalp and is gentle on the hair. By using it just two times in a row, you will be able to notice the difference.


These are some of the common differences and facts related to dry scalp and dandruff, two conditions that can be managed with various preventive measures or treatments. Use the information to identify the conditions and take steps to ombat them for a healthy scalp and hair.

Image Credit – Flickr User thefuturistics