Dry Scalp Vs. Dandruff: Treatments, Shampoos & Remedies

Is there a difference between dry scalp and dandruff? Well, this is a question many people have asked. Right, there is a difference although, the two terms have been used interchangeably. So without any doubt, there must be a lot of misperception concerning these two conditions. Learn more about the difference between causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.

Identifying the difference

Here we discuss the causes and symptoms of both the two that will help you tell the difference.

1. Dry Scalp

This condition is the due loss of moisture from the scalp skin. The dryness will, therefore, be followed by itchiness and shedding of small flakes of skin due to scratching. It can also be red and irritated and may make your hair to look dry and dull.


Here are the potential causes:

  • Eczema
  • Dietary deficiencies
  • Cold and dry weather
  • Hard water
  • Aging
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Poor diet i.e. consumption of caffeine
  • Too-frequent shampooing
  • Hair products that often contain alcohol, which can dry out your hair
  • Improper hair care including lack of oiling, unhealthy beauty habits and not bothering to condition your scalp

2. Scalp dandruff

Dandruff is due to excessive production of sebum and overgrowth of harmless yeast, a yeast-like fungus known as Malassezia. The skin will speed up the renewal process when yeast will be feeding on the excess sebum and the dead skin cells. Resultant symptoms will be a frequent shedding of the skin cells on your scalp and thus visible flakes called dandruff are formed.

The symptoms of dandruff may be similar to those of dry scalp there will be a slight difference. With dandruff, the major symptoms are greasy yellowish or greyish flakes. These flakes are relatively large than those from dryness and maybe even accompanied by some foul smell.

What Causes dandruff

Some causes may be similar to those of dryness on the scalp but don’t forget, they are two different things. Here we look at both internal and external causes.

a) Internal causes
  • Improper nutrition
  • Heredity predisposition
  • Allergic reactions
  • Lack of rest
  • Emotional stress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Poor health
b) External ones
  • Excessive use of hair products
  • Improper use of hair-coloring products
  • Cold weather and dry indoor heating
  • Infrequent shampooing of the hair
  • Infrequent washing of hair and scalp

Can dry scalp cause dandruff?

If you have been asking yourself this question then the answer is an absolute yes. According everydayhealth.com, dry scalp causes scaly flakes called dandruff.

These flakes are usually smaller and less oily than other causes of dandruff. Fortunately, when resulting from this condition, they can be easily be treated with simple products containing pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, tar, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole.

There this point which is very important to note, due to the fact that dry scalp can cause them, we can, therefore, try to control it in order to prevent dandruff. But don’t forget that, there are also other causes of dandruff apart from dryness and such causes need to be treated may be with different medications.

Let us now focus on the effective ways to treat and cure these two conditions.

Treatments and shampoos

Treatments for may be the same since dryness can also cause dandruff-remember we had mentioned before that treating them will also prevent the occurrence of these conditions. Not to forget, treatments for both will fundamentally depend on the causes, severity or maybe the medical history of the victim. Such treatments will range from OTC products to prescribed treatment to DIY home remedies. Among the OTC product may be the shampoo for dry scalp and dandruff.

Did I just mention a shampoo? Well, we got another headache again! There are many shampoos on the market termed effective for these two issues but, not all will solve your problem! Then again, how do we know which shampoo is good for dry scalp and which one suits dandruff? Don’t panic, we have a solution right here…

Good or best shampoo for dandruff and dry scalp

Depending on the severity and hair type, you should be able to find an effective shampoo that will provide faster results. Therefore a good shampoo for brand may be similar especially these we are about to explain) must be able to clear all the buildups. The ingredients found in them include salicylic acid, green tea, and tea tree oil among others

Some of the recommended shampoos brands you should think of if you have these two issues include the following:

  • Head & Shoulders Dry Scalp Care with Almond Oil 2-In-1 Dandruff Shampoo
  • Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Original Formula
  • Pure Tea Tree Oil Shampoo – Natural Essential Oil Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Gentle Restorative Shampoo
  • Yes To Carrots Naturals Scalp Relief Shampoo

Remember, before application of any shampoo, you must make sure you read the instructions on the labels on the product containers. Applying wrong shampoo or wrong shampoo application procedure can just worsen the situation, and by the way, too much application of shampoo is the beginning of all sorts of dandruffs!

Having focused on shampoos, we again have another alternative. The natural home products. Many customers refers to some of these products as “natural ant-dandruff shampoo.” Some of these ingredients like tea tree oil, carrots, aloe vera and many others can be found in many shampoo brands in the market.

So before you spend a lot of money buying that expensive shampoo yet the ingredients are similar, why don’t you use these powerful products with fresh ingredients? Read on to explore more on these home products for dry scalp and dandruff.

Natural home remedies

Dandruff is not curable but it can be controlled and managed by treating some of their causes. You may also have them resulting from other sources but all the same, the natural products we are going to explore here, have the potential to treat both these two issues irrespective of the causes.  Just pick one remedy (remember a mixture of two or more ingredients can just make a wonderful remedy) that suits you and apply it persistently.

1. Aloe Vera and Vinegar

Aloe vera as an antifungal, it kills all the harmful bacteria and fungus on the scalp hence removing dandruff. It soothes and moisturizes it and remove dead skins and therefore a good anti-flaking treatment that will eventually prevent the occurrence of dandruff. We also have to give credit to its minerals and vitamins that nourishes that scalp skin without dandruff.

  • Mix fresh extract of aloe Vera with two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
  • Shampoo and condition your hair
  • Apply this mixture and leave it for some time then wash it off thoroughly using lukewarm water

2. Baking soda

Baking soda assist in treating most of the scalp conditions. It help optimizing its acidity levels hence maintaining the correct moisture level. It is also proved anti-fungal, this ensures that bacteria that may cause dandruffs are removed. It also has an absorbing potential that keeps the correct hair moisture in place eliminating dryness.

  • Mix one cup of baking soda with three cups of water to form paste
  • Apply it on a damp hair and leave it for some time and wash it thoroughly with warm water.
  • Apply it twice a week for good outcomes

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Another long-term serving natural remedy for dryness and of course a better solution for dandruff is apple cider vinegar. It has a couple of roles, I have to mention this. It restores the pH balance and thus limiting the growth of yeast that can cause dandruff. This is another wonderful hair clarifier and clean blocked pores as well and hence maintain the optimum content of moisture.

  • Mix equal amount of apple cider vinegar and water.
  • Add 15 drops of tea tree oil
  • Apply the mixture on your scalp and massage properly
  • Rinse it off after 15 minutes
  • Repeat this remedy 2-3 times in a week

4. Lemon juice

Lemon juice is a natural dandruff treatment that clears the buildups in hair and also optimizes acidity levels which ensures correct moisture content. It contains vitamins for healthier skin and strong hair growth. This is how to apply this remedy:

  • Cut a ripe lemon into two halves and extract the juice
  • Apply it on your scalp directly
  • Massage it keenly and leave it for five minutes
  • Rinse your hair with cool water

5. Coconut oil

This is another natural product that makes a good treatment for both these two conditions. According to top10homeremedies.com, “Coconut oil helps eliminate dandruff due to its antifungal properties. It also moisturizes dry scalp and provides relief from itching.” Procedure of application:

  • To two cups of coconut oil, add a cup of lemon juice
  • Rub the mixture on your head and rub it a bit
  • Leave it to sit for 20 minutes and then wash your hair
  • The process should be repeated for about 2-3 in a week

Other home natural products that can also be applicable include, rosemary oil, black tea, avocado and banana, honey, fuller’s earth among others. So what is important? Fine, there are several home products that can be used to treat these two problems but all of them may not work for you. Just pick on one or a combination of 2-3 products and try out at a time.


Both dry and scalp dandruff are just mild conditions that are easily treated at home or by simply purchasing some over the counter shampoos. But these conditions may be very bothersome and embarrassing especially if you ignore them (you don’t bother to treat them) and thus accompanied by intense itching and flaking.

Itching may trigger scratching that will result in secondary bacterial infections lead to outrageous symptoms. To respond to any symptom of the two condition in time. See your doctor if the OTC shampoos and home remedies don’t improve your condition. He/she will prescribe appropriately for extreme dryness and severe dandruff treatments.


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  2. https://www.allthingshair.com/en-uk/hair-care/dandruff/dry-scalp-vs-dandruff-difference/
  3. http://urbanbushbabes.com/there-is-a-difference-between-dandruff-dry-scalp/
  4. http://www.top10homeremedies.com/home-remedies/top-10-home-remedies-for-itchy-scalp.html
  5. http://healthyleo.com/the-top-15-home-remedies-for-dandruff-and-dry-scalp/
  6. http://www.medguidance.com/thread/Dandruff-vs-Dry-Scalp.html
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