What Causes A Dry Scalp, And How Is It Different To Dandruff?

If you are right here, it is most likely as a result of your scalp is supplying you with gyp. And everyone knows, there’s few issues fairly as maddening as a scratchy, itchy, prickling scalp. The downside is, our pores and skin (and subsequently our scalps) could be opposite little divas – telling you one factor, however doing one other. Dry scalps can masquerade as dandruff and vice versa since their signs are fairly comparable. How to deal with every although, could be very totally different. So with the intention to cease the scratching, stat, it is advisable know what you are coping with.

Luckily, we have now simply the specialists for the job. We requested Stephanie Sey, professional Trichologist for Nizoral and Anabel Kingsley, Philip Kingsley Brand President and Consultant Trichologist, to information you thru figuring out and treating dry scalps vs dandruff.

Here’s each doable motive why you will have an itchy scalp (plus an expert-approved information to treating it quick)

What causes a dry scalp?


“A dry scalp occurs when the top layer of skin (the epidermis) lacks moisture (water). It is commonly due to environmental factors, such as weather. However, it is more likely to occur when your scalp is not producing enough, or adequately replacing, sebum (oil) – which tends to happen as we get older,” explains Anabel.

“While a dry scalp is common – it’s not quite as common as having dry skin elsewhere, such as your hands, arms, legs and even your face. This is because your scalp is a highly sebaceous environment (i.e. it contains more oil glands, and therefore produces more oils, than most other parts of your body). Therefore a dry scalp tends to be more common in the summer months as the scalp can become sunburnt,” provides Anabel.

How is a dry scalp totally different to dandruff?

“Many think dandruff is a dry scalp condition and although the symptoms are the same (dry flakes and itchiness) dandruff is actually due to excess oil. The flaking gives many the impression that this is caused by dryness, it is not. Dandruff is an oily condition,” says Stephanie.

The oiliness skilled when you will have dandruff is attributable to an overgrowth of yeast. “Yeasts naturally live on your scalp, and usually do not cause any problems. However, itching and flaking can occur when an overgrowth of yeast causes your scalp’s microbiome to become imbalanced. However, some people are simply sensitive to normal levels of these yeasts on their scalp,” says Anabel.

“It is difficult to differentiate between dandruff and dry scalps, however, the best way to do this is to think what may have caused this dryness to the scalp,” says Stephanie. “Is it an allergic reaction to something you have used, or have you been using products that are drying out your hair and scalp recently? If you’ve answered yes, then it is probably a dry scalp,” she provides.

“If your hair is a bit greasy despite the flakes and is there all the time, then it is likely you are suffering from dandruff. If you are still not sure then use a dandruff shampoo for a while, like Nizoral (£9.30), and see if it alleviates the symptoms. If it is dandruff, then the ketaconazole (an anti-fungal ingredient) in Nizoral will do its job,” says Stephanie.

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Is a flaky scalp totally different to dandruff?


A flaky scalp could be a symptom of dandruff, but it surely’s additionally a symptom of dry scalps, though they’re attributable to totally different causes. “With a dry, flaky scalp, the skin gets irritated and flakes off. With dandruff, the cause is too much oil on the scalp. That excess oil causes skin cells to build up and then shed,” explains Stephanie.

“A flaky scalp will also be attributable to different scalp circumstances, reminiscent of tinea capitis (a extremely infectious fungal an infection of the scalp, additionally known as scalp ringworm), allergic contact dermatitis (a response to merchandise used on the scalp, reminiscent of hair dye, hairspray, hair gel or mousse), or psoriasis (a pores and skin situation that causes pink or silvery scales which are adherent to the scalp,) Stephanie clarifies.

Why does a dry scalp trigger itchiness?

“A dry scalp is irritated and, as such, causes itchiness. Scalp issues such as seborrhoeic dermatitis can cause low-grade inflammation and shedding, which in turn causes itchiness,” says Stephanie.

What are the most effective methods to deal with a dry scalp?

“To deal with a dry scalp you need to identify the cause of it first. We have enough sebaceous glands on our scalp to keep the scalp lubricated, so if the scalp is dry then there is most probably an underlying cause,” says Stephanie. “Some causes could be an allergic reaction to a product, or even washing your hair too often with a poorly formulated harsh shampoo,” she provides.

As with dry pores and skin elsewhere in your physique, a mix of light exfoliation and hydration may help. “Try a daily re-hydrating scalp toner containing ingredients such as sodium salicylate – an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant active that helps to soothe the scalp,” says Anabel, reminiscent of Philip Kingsley’s Stimulating Daily Scalp Toner (£19.10).

If you assume the dryness may be attributable to a extra critical scalp circumstances, reminiscent of psoriasis, allergy symptoms and sensitivities, these might have additional investigation. “It’s best to talk to a dermatologist or trichologist if you are concerned. A few ‘red-flags’ to look out for are very heavy scales, scales that are firmly stuck to your scalp, pustules, bleeding, inflammation and pronounced redness,” says Anabel. “Just as if you had a skin condition, like acne, a scalp condition needs consistent and daily treatment to bring it under control. After all, your scalp is simply an extension of the skin on your forehead,” she provides.

If you will have an irritated and itchy scalp, you want one among these soothing shampoos

What’s the easiest way to moisturise a dry scalp?


“Some methods to handle a dry scalp are through the use of one thing soothing like aloe vera gel instantly on the scalp [try Aloe Pura Aloe Vera Gel, £6.49] or a hydrosol like rosewater [attempt Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin mist, £7.99]. A hot oil treatment, such as coconut oil and jojoba oil, just before you are going to wash your hair could go a long way as well to help rebalance the scalp,” says Stephanie.

Anabel agrees, “twice weekly, apply a moisturising scalp mask containing ingredients such as aloe vera, and mild exfoliants, such as betaine salicylate,” she says. And “hydrate from within i.e. drink enough water,” she provides.

Will a dry scalp go away by itself?

“It really depends on the cause,” says Stephanie. “If it was an allergic reaction and you remove the cause, then it will go away. If you are over-washing with a harsh, poorly-formulated shampoo and you stop, it is also likely to go away. If your scalp is still dry and flaky after some time, then it could be that you are suffering from dandruff and need an anti-fungal treatment like Nizoral.” If you’ve got tried the above and are nonetheless struggling, search out an professional who may help establish the issue and a therapy plan.

For extra from GLAMOUR’s Deputy Beauty Editor, Elle Turner comply with her on Instagram @elleturneruk.