Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp: What’s the Difference?
Learn the difference between dandruff and dry scalp so you know the right remedy for each one.
Dry scalp and dandruff are terms often used interchangeably by a lot of people. So it comes as no surprise that there’s a lot of confusion surrounding these two scalp-related conditions; after all, to the untrained eye, the symptoms can appear very similar. So, what’s the deal with dandruff vs. dry scalp?
“The main root cause of scalp issues is the integrity of the scalp stratum corneum barrier,” reveals Peter Bailey, Global Technical Manager, Hair Care at Unilever. “The role of the barrier is to protect against irritants and other things in the environment from penetrating into the human body.”
To help put your mind at rest when it comes to dandruff vs. dry scalp, we’ve created a simple breakdown of the small distinctions between these annoying hair issues. Plus, we explain why you might be suffering from them in the first place.
Dry Scalp vs. Dandruff: Knowing the Differences
How do I know if I have a dry scalp or dandruff?
Dry scalp = a scalp that lacks moisture. The dryness can then lead to an itchy scalp, followed by the shedding of small flakes of the skin due to scratching. The causes of a dry scalp can range from dehydration and environmental effects to poor diet.
Dandruff = caused by over-production of sebum and an overgrowth of a harmless, yeast-like fungus called Malassezia. The yeast feeds on the excess sebum and dead skin, causing the skin to speed up its renewal process. This leads to the frequent shedding of skin cells on your scalp, resulting in the visible flakes we know as dandruff.
What are the physical symptoms?
To differentiate a dry scalp vs dandruff, there can be minor differences in the symptoms. For dry hair, the actual feeling of dryness and itchiness on the scalp are the main ones to look out for.
When it comes to dandruff, the symptoms are similar to that of a dry scalp, but there are some subtle differences. With dandruff, the main symptoms are small flakes and an itchy scalp. The flakes range in size and color and can even sometimes have a distinctive smell.
Either way, for dry scalp, dandruff, or other symptoms it’s important to monitor the health of your scalp and seek professional advice if you have any issues.
What are the main causes?
Dry scalp: A dry scalp is normally caused by internal and/or external dehydration, but scalp conditions like eczema and psoriasis can also contribute to the issue. Changes in the weather or excessive use of products that can lead to build-up are all things that can irritate the scalp and cause itchiness and flaking.
Dandruff: The causes of dandruff are vast, but as previously mentioned, Malassezia is the main culprit. Stress, a weakened immune system, and other existing scalp conditions can make you more predisposed, but anything from genetics to hair care habits, and even yeast sensitivity are also known to be some of the most common causes of dandruff.
So, what’s the solution?
When it comes down to dandruff vs. dry scalp, there are ways to combat these pesky hair concerns.
Dry scalp: Start by examining your hair care routine. You might want to consider using a moisturizing shampoo and conditioner or a clarifying shampoo, to help remove product build-up.
To keep your scalp hydrated, we recommend Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Shampoo. It has Octopirox which works deep in the scalp to keep flakes away and glycerin which is known for its moisturizing properties. Glycerin keeps the skin’s elasticity and helps in repairing your scalp’s barrier. This shampoo also has sunflower seed oil that locks in moisture in your hair fibers for up to 3x scalp hydration.
For best results, pair it with Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Conditioner.
Dandruff: You could also use an anti-dandruff shampoo like the Clear Complete Soft Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo. It is formulated with Triple Anti-Dandruff Technology which helps remove, resist, and prevent dandruff. It also has amino acids that help in keeping your hair nourished and sakura fragrance that helps your scalp stay fresh all day.
Whether you’re dealing with dandruff or scaly scalp issues, it’s important to consult a medical professional for any concerns about the health of your hair and scalp.
Ways to Reduce the Itching
Itching can really be uncomfortable but there are things you can do at home to reduce it. Check out these tips.
1. Got an active lifestyle? Wash your hair every day.
Washing your hair every day does not just help reduce the itching but is also hygienic. Remember that when your hair is dirty, it accumulates in your scalp and cause it to itch.
People are now more into meditation because it calms the body and mind. Since scalp itching may also be sometimes caused by stress, meditating can help in greatly reducing the itching. You can meditate for an hour a day to begin seeing the improvement.
3. Refrain from frequently touching your hair.
Have you noticed that when you touch your hair or rub your scalp it just starts to itch? Keep from doing this and you won’t feel any itching. Plus, frequently touching your hair can cause it to become dry.
4. Rinse your hair thoroughly.
Finger-comb your hair and massage your scalp with your fingertips as you rinse to make sure that no shampoo or conditioner residue gets left on your hair and scalp.
5. Use a shampoo that has tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil’s anti-fungal and anti-microbial properties help keep dandruff away. It also has anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that keep your hair clean and healthy.
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Editor’s tip: Use Love Beauty and Planet Tea Tree Oil & Vetiver Radical Refresher Shampoo and Love Beauty and Planet Tea Tree Oil & Vetiver Radical Refresher Conditioner to make your hair dandruff-free. It has Australian tea tree oil that keeps your hair clean and detoxifies your scalp. Plus, its eco-friendly ingredients are good for the environment too!
Now that you know the difference between dandruff and dry scalp, you can now get the proper remedy. And once the itching or the flaking has stopped, you’ll be on your way toward a healthier scalp.
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