Asian woman with beautiful hair posing for a dry scalp treatment concept

How to Treat and Prevent Dry Scalp

Don't worry, these dry scalp solutions aren't complicated. Check them out.

You may not know it yet but if you’ve been experiencing some itching, tightness of your scalp’s skin, and possibly some flaking, then you most likely have a dry scalp. While it can be such a hassle to deal with this condition, you can treat it at home using a number of dry scalp solutions. But first, let’s take a closer look at what causes it in the first place. Then, let’s check out different dry scalp treatments:

What are the Main Causes of Dry Scalp?

Dry scalp can be attributed to a number of causes. In most cases, it isn’t a serious condition and can be a rather common occurrence. Some of it can be attributed to environmental factors, like living in areas with dry air. Your lifestyle or habits and certain skin conditions also influence the condition of your scalp. If you have naturally dry skin, you may tend to have a dry scalp as well. When it comes to your daily habits, excessive washing and use of hair products laden with harsh chemicals can also dry out your scalp.

In addition to these causes, there are certain skin conditions that can cause or exacerbate dry scalp. These skin conditions include eczema and psoriasis, both of which tend to cause even more serious skin problems that go beyond just having a dry scalp.

Dry Scalp vs. Dandruff: What’s the Difference?

We mentioned before that flaking can be a sign of having a dry scalp. Is it the same as dandruff? Let’s find out.

Dry scalp: Woman with long black hair with a half up top knot hairstyle standing outdoors
Dry scalp may also cause flaking and itchiness. Credit: Shutterstock

Having dry scalp and dandruff are two distinct conditions and should be treated as such. While having a dry scalp may cause you to have dandruff, it is not enough to say that you have dandruff because of your scalp — because dandruff can be likewise attributed to other and more serious conditions.

Dandruff is largely associated with Malassezia, a yeast-like fungus that breeds on oily scalp areas. Malassezia feed on the excess oil, and when your scalp barrier gets weak, this fungus can cause irritation. This leads to inflammation and causes skin cells to shed faster than usual. When this happens, you get dandruff. Knowing the key differences of these conditions is important in knowing how to find the best remedies for dry scalp and dandruff accordingly.

Shampoos for Dry Scalp

Try these anti-dandruff shampoos that act as dry scalp treatements to improve your scalp’s health.

Dry scalp: Pretty Asian woman showering and washing her hair
A nourishing anti-dandruff shampoo can help prevent dry scalp. Credit: Shutterstock

1. Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Shampoo

Dove Dermacare Scalp Shampoo bottle

Beat dandruff without drying out your hair by using Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Shampoo. It is infused with Olacare Scap Actives that help get rid of flakes and nourish your scalp. Olacare Scalp Actives consist of Octopirox, which fights flakes, sunflower seed oil, which nourishes the scalp, locks the moisture in the hair fibers, and restores scalp health, and glycerin, which is known for its moisturizing properties.

This shampoo is gentle for everyday use, so it’s great for cleansing and relieving scalp itch. For best results, we highly recommend pairing it with Dove Dermacare Scalp Soothing Moisture Conditioner.

2. CLEAR Complete Soft Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Clear Complete Soft Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

This shampoo is formulated with Triple Anti-Dandruff Technology, plus vitamin B3 and amino acid, to remove, resist, and prevent dandruff. CLEAR Complete Soft Care Anti-Dandruff Shampoo also refreshes your scalp and helps replenish protein components, leaving you with a more nourished scalp and healthy-looking hair.

Dry Scalp Treatment and Prevention

Asian woman getting dry scalp treatment from a doctor
For extreme dry scalp, getting your scalp checked by a specialist will help. Credit: PonyWang of Getty Images Signature from Canva

These dry scalp treatments consist of a few hair care and lifestyle tweaks but don’t worry. They’re easy to follow and incorporate into your daily routine. Here they are.

1. Stay hydrated.

It’s good not just for your skin but also for your scalp. Drinking glasses of water daily seems simple enough, but we’re all guilty of under-hydrating ourselves on a busy day. Start setting phone reminders throughout the day: don’t forget to drink water and remember to stock up on hydration in particularly hot or cold climates that can be harsher on your scalp.

2. Limit the use of heated styling tools.

Overusing a hair dryer can damage and dry out your scalp. Go easy on the heat (or save it for snazzy dates) and let your hair dry naturally from time to time so your scalp isn’t exposed to excessive heat.

3. Get the right shampoo and hair products.

Using the wrong shampoo may strip away whatever natural oils your scalp has and worsen the dryness and discomfort. Always choose shampoos and conditioners that can nourish and hydrate your hair and scalp and not exacerbate its dryness.

4 Consult a doctor.

It’s time to see a doctor if you’re experiencing persistent and more painful symptoms on your scalp, or even on other parts of your skin. Check to see your scalp up close in a mirror to see if there’s redness or excessive flaking. If your dry scalp is caused by a medical condition, your doctor may prescribe a specialized remedy to effectively treat it. 

Natural Dry Scalp Treatments

Woman applying oil to her flaky scalp
There are several dry scalp treatments that will help you solve your dilemma. Credit: pixelshot from Canva

1. Olive Oil

Olive oil has moisturizing properties that make for an effective DIY dry scalp treatment. Massage it onto your scalp, then cover your hair with a shower cap for approximately 30 minutes. Rinse well with shampoo and conditioner afterwards to remove oil residue.

If you have dandruff as well, you can combine olive oil and baking soda and apply it to your scalp to remove the flakes.

2. Aloe Vera

Aside from being a good moisturizer, aloe vera can also soothe an irritated scalp. To prepare your own aloe vera gel at home, take an aloe vera leaf from your garden, wash it to remove dirt, and put it upright in a glass to drain the yellow residue, which can irritate the skin.

Once the yellow residue is out, wash the leaf again one more time to make sure it is clean. Get a small peeler or knife and peel the skin off the leaf. Scoop out the gel with a teaspoon and blend it. You can now apply it to your scalp.

3. Lemon

Lemon is acidic and it can help restore the pH balance in your flaky scalp. To use it as a dry scalp remedy, massage lemon juice onto your scalp for five minutes before you shampoo and condition your hair. You can also dilute the lemon juice with water if it stings. Repeat this every day until your scalp doesn’t feel dry and itchy anymore.

4. Apple Cider Vinegar

Like lemon, apple cider vinegar is acidic. It also has anti-inflammatory and exfoliating properties, so it’s a great remedy for dry scalp. Just mix one part apple cider vinegar with two parts water, massage the mixture onto your scalp, leave it for five minutes, and wash with your shampoo and conditioner.

5. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil doesn’t just help make your hair smooth and silky. It can also be used to treat dry scalp. It moisturizes the scalp and helps keep it from getting itchy and irritated. To use, simply apply a small amount of coconut oil onto your scalp and massage gently. Let it sit for approximately 10 minutes before rinsing your hair.

6. Jojoba Oil

Another highly beneficial oil is jojoba oil. Much like coconut oil, jojoba oil is an effective moisturizer that can be used to relieve flaky scalp thanks to its numerous anti-inflammatory properties. To use, just add a few drops of jojoba oil to your shampoo to boost your hair’s hydration and moisture and to prevent your shampoo from drying out your scalp.