Are you suffering from hair fall issues? Has your scalp become too oily or too dry? Are you unable to diagnose the true cause? Don't you worry; we're here to lessen your doubts. In this article, we'll be discussing the difference between dandruff and dry scalp and their major symptoms, so you can easily identify your condition. Let's look at the differences, shall we? 

Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp

It is quite common to confuse two similar things. Dandruff and dry scalp are examples of the same. Owing to similar symptoms, both of these conditions are often referred to as one another but learning more about the causes and appearances would alleviate doubts.  


A dry scalp refers to the shedding of flaky skin due to extreme dryness—a lack of moisture results in irritation in the scalp. The skin particles that are shed off are often confused with dandruff. More often than not, if your scalp is dry, there are high probabilities of the other parts of your body being dry. It is a severe issue for people with dry skin. For such people, adequate hydration is the key. 

Unlike dry scalp, dandruff refers to the lumped-up skin cells that fall off due to extreme greasiness or oiliness of the scalp. Both the conditions have stark opposite causes. The formation of new cells in the scalp, followed by the rapid loss of cells, is associated with dandruff. The itching may become painful, but it doesn't seem to stop. Itchiness occurs even when there's no dryness in the scalp and oil is the sole inhabitant.


Dry scalp can be caused due to several reasons, including contact dermatitis. It occurs due to the reaction certain products have with our scalp's natural oils. These can be sprays, shampoos, serums, etc. Dry scalp causes can also be too much exposure to too hot or too cold air and old age. Skin ailments like eczema and excessive hair washing can also lead to a dry scalp. 

Seborrheic dermatitis is the primary cause of dandruff. This can occur wherever hair growth is seen, such as armpits, genital organs, etc. This condition can affect children as well and is then known as cradle cap. Seborrheic dermatitis makes the scalp red, oily and flaky, leading to the shedding of skin cells sooner than they should shed in normal circumstances. 

Also Read: Home Remedies For Dandruff

Malassezia is a fungus that is yet another cause of dandruff. It stays in our scalp itself, but the problem arises when too much of it is present in our scalp. This fungus speeds up the process of shedding skin cells. It can be caused due to hormonal changes, stress, and age. 


Smaller, dry flakes belong to the issue of dry scalp and usually appear white or colorless. Dandruff results in large and oily flakes which appear white or yellow. It also results in the scalp becoming red. 


Dandruff and dry scalp have opposite treatments, owing to their opposite causes. A dry scalp is cured by keeping the scalp moisturized, not allowing the dryness to sustain. The application of a moisturizing shampoo should follow hair washes. Hair spas can also abate dry scalp issues by steaming the roots, thereby locking in the moisture. While focusing on keeping your scalp moisturized, please don't overdo it. Moisturizing too much might lead to dandruff problems. 


Shampooing or washing the hair regularly can be the primary cure for dandruff. However, if the dandruff issues aren't minor and need more attention, dandruff shampoos should be used. Dandruff shampoos contain fungus-killing chemicals, which abolish the root of the problem. Doctors should be consulted if dandruff problems persist. Doctors usually recommend strong anti-dandruff shampoos. 

Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp

The prevention of both dandruff and dry scalp can be done by changing our lifestyles. Dry scalp can be curtailed by using nourishing or moisturizing hair products, mainly shampoos. Shampooing at least twice per hair wash is necessary to get rid of the excess oils collected in the scalp. People with oily skin face the problem of dandruff more because of their active sebaceous glands that keep producing oil. Increasing the gap between two consecutive hair washes. Treating the roots and tips of the hair with steam, that is, using a humidifier. Drinking more water and staying hydrated. 

Sulfate and paraben-free shampoos are recommended to reduce the chances of tension in the scalp. Moreover, it's essential to dry your hair properly before fastening it or styling it with heat. The water that remains in the scalp makes it greasy sooner than it otherwise would. It's a good idea to shift to a gentle, anti-dandruff shampoo way before the problem becomes more intense. Prevention is always better than cure. 

Dandruff vs Dry Scalp: Which is harder to cure?

Both dandruff and dry scalp can be treated gradually, but dandruff is a more chronic condition and gets extremely difficult to deal with. Even if it's cured for a while, it keeps coming back again and again. To keep your scalp as dandruff-free as possible, you've got to follow a specific routine, as instructed by your dermatologist. Our scalp is a sensitive area, and indiscipline can lead to dandruff and other hair evils. 

Along with everything mentioned above, it's essential to check the kind of food we consume. The appearance and health of our skin and hair are reflections of what our body consumes. A healthy, balanced diet and moderate quantities of water can solve most of your hair problems, including dandruff and dry scalp. We hope by learning the difference between dandruff and dry scalp can help treat the problems better!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Is dandruff caused by dry scalp?

A. Dandruff can be the result of dry scalp, but it can happen for many reasons, including a yeast-like fungus that feeds on the oils in your skin. 

Q. Should I wash my hair everyday if I have dandruff?

A. No, but you can was your hair once or twice a week.

Q. Will coconut oil help my dry scalp?

A. Yes, coconut oil can moisturize the scalp, and its antifungal and antibacterial properties can help reduce the risk of infections.

Q. Should I apply oil if I have dandruff?

A. It works best if you have extremely dry skin along with dandruff.

Q. Does drinking water help with dry scalp?

A. Yes, drinking water can help you with dry scalp.

Also Read: Hacks To Get Rid Of Dry Scalp