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Understanding the Difference Between Dandruff and a Dry Scalp

If you are experiencing an itchy scalp or have noticed flakes falling from your hair, the culprit could either be dandruff or dry skin. Though very similar, these two conditions differ in their causes, prevention, and treatments.

What causes dandruff?

On the most basic level, too much oil on the scalp causes dandruff. One condition that creates dandruff is called seborrheic dermatitis. This condition results in skin that is oily, red, and scaly. When it occurs on the scalp, the scales flake off and result in dandruff flakes that are typically large, white or yellow, and oily.

Another trigger of dandruff is malassezia, a fungus that lives on the scalp. An excess of this fungus multiplies skin cells at a quick rate, making the scalp shed dead skin cells faster and resulting in dandruff.

What causes a dry scalp?

Too little oil or moisture causes a dry scalp, which occurs when your scalp’s skin flakes off from irritation. Older age and cold and dry air can contribute to a dry scalp. When the scalp is not lubricated, itching and flaking can occur.

Dry scalps result in smaller, drier flakes compared to dandruff flakes. Those with dry scalp may also have dry skin on other parts of the body. It may make their hair look dry as opposed to dandruff, which may make hair greasier.

Prevention and treatment

Though not necessarily curable, both dandruff and dry scalp are preventable and treatable!

Home remedies can help treat dandruff; try using anti-dandruff shampoos or try the alternative tea tree oil shampoo. Since some cases of dandruff might be due to fungal infection, you may find home remedies do not work and that you need professional treatment.

To treat dry scalp, try shampooing less often or switch to a moisturizing shampoo. Drinking more water might also help keep the skin moist and prevent dry skin. Avoid using products with harsh chemicals that may dry out your scalp.

If you are struggling with dandruff, dry skin, or hair loss, call on the team at Hair Replacement by Janet! It is our goal to help you achieve healthy hair or find a custom hair system that works for you, so that you look good and feel good. Give us a call at 650-592-3691 today to make an appointment!

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