Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp

These skin conditions are generally confined to the scalp area. People suffering from dry scalp or dandruff suffer both embarrassment and irritation. Understanding the main difference between the two conditions as well as their effects is worthwhile.

Overview: Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp

Dandruff refers to a skin condition that affects one's head to bring about small white flakes which conspicuously appear when he or she scratches the head. However, the white flakes are quite small compared to the dead skin when one is suffering from psoriasis. Some cases of dandruff are quite persistent while others do not respond to traditional dandruff treatment. Hence, the patients are forced to visit the dermatologist.

On the other hand, dry scalp refers to dry skin that occurs in the densely haired area of someone's head. The scalp is naturally very greasy and oily since the skin in the scalp area produces more sebum compared to any other part of the body. Although the dry scalp can end up causing dandruff, these two conditions are quite distinct. For instance, dry scalps develop when the scalp is not able to produce or hold sufficient moisture.

If you're suffering from either dandruff or a dry scalp, do not panic! The two conditions can safely be controlled.

What are the symptoms of Dry Scalps and Dandruff?

The symptoms of the conditions for most teens and adults are easy to spot; white, oily flakes of dead skin. They are majorly observed on the head and around the shoulders. If you're experiencing an itchy or scaly scalp, you're probably suffering these conditions. Keep in mind that these problems are quite prominent during fall and winter. However, indoor heating and summers improve and facilitate the dry skin.

Newborns are more prone to a condition known as cradle cap, a type of dandruff condition. You'll notice a scaly, crusty scalp on the head of the baby. Cradle cap occurs anytime all through the infancy period. Cradle cap can be alarming, especially for new mothers. However, the condition is not harmful and quite often clears up on its own.

An individual suffering from dry scalp might notice some flakes shedding off from their heads. However, the dry scalp flakes are somehow smaller and whiter compared to those of dandruff. In severe situations, one may experience frequent scratching on their scalp which after some time, turn red and bring about small sores.

What causes Dry Scalp and Dandruff?

Generally, naturally occurring processes within the body cause dandruff. Individuals are able to notice the skin naturally shedding from their scalps; ranges from flakes on the hair or even clothing. Further, the skin on the scalp itches from a condition known as seborrhea. When the skin on the scalp produces excess oil or sebum, the excess sebum from the sebaceous glands facilitates the shedding of the dead skin. This generally brings about dandruff.

When the skin has too little moisture, you'll definitely get a dry scalp. The skin around the scalp is then irritated and after some time, flakes off. When one develops dry scalp, the individual might generally have dry skin on other parts of the body. The following factors also cause dry scalp:

  • Contact dermatitis; a reaction caused when one applies products on the scalp such as hairspray, styling gel; just to mention a few.
  • Aging
  • Cold, dry air

Interestingly, when one needs more skin on the body, the scalp normally multiplies the production. This results in many other cells dying off quickly and shedding off. The primary cause of dandruff is the seborrhea dermatitis. The condition makes the skin oily, red, and scaly, and white or yellow scales flake off the head as dandruff. A fungus normally known as Malassezia triggers this condition. The fungus lives on the scalp. Remember: some people have a lot of Malassezia on their scalps causing a more severe dandruff condition.

What really is the key difference between Dry Scalp and Dandruff?

Of course, many people would find it difficult to understand the difference between dry scalp and dandruff. Did you know that it's actually possible to suffer from both dry scalps and dandruff? The only way to distinguish between these two conditions is by the appearance of the flakes. Dandruff flakes are bigger and look oilier.

When One Should see a Doctor

Of course, one can effectively treat most dandruff using the over-the-counter shampoo. However, you may find that the skin is not responding to dandruff shampoos, even after trying it for more than a month. Worse still, they might be getting worse, red, and swollen. You'll probably need to book an appointment with a dermatologist.

Treatment for Dandruff and Dry Scalps

In case you're suffering from severe dandruff, a dermatologist can wash with a gentle shampoo followed by a moisturizing conditioner. One way to confirm whether you're suffering from dandruff or dry scalp is by applying a light moisturizer on the scalp before going to bed. If you have a dry scalp, the flakes will disappear upon showering the next morning. Other hair stylists offer a scalp treatment by use of steam for optimum moisturizing of the scalp.

If you're suffering from some mild dandruff, you can effectively wash the hair with a gentle shampoo. This reduces the amount of oil and sebum on your scalp. Otherwise, cases that do not work with regular shampoos can try a dandruff shampoo. Generally, the dandruff shampoos contain some compounds that kill the fungus on the scalp as well as remove the flaky skin.

How to Prevent Dandruff and Dry Scalps

If you're looking for prevention measures for dry scalp and dandruff on your head, consider the following tips.

  • In case of dandruff symptoms, it is imperative to wash with antidandruff shampoo.
  • Avoid products that have chemicals, bleach, and alcohol in them.
  • Spend a few minutes in the sun every day. Exposure to ultraviolet light can help control dandruff.