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Dandruff VS. Dry Scalp: What Is the Difference?

In this article, we will cover the difference between the two scalp conditions and what causes them.

Read on

Dandruff and dry scalp can both cause flakes on your scalp, so what is the real difference between the two?

No one wants to have either condition, and constantly having to worry about depositing skin flakes on your hair, shoulders, and clothes can be embarrassing.

In this article, we will cover the difference between the two scalp conditions and what causes them.

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a common scalp condition, that is not serious, contagious, or dangerous, but may be irritating or embarrassing.

The main symptoms of dandruff are a red, itchy scalp and large white or yellowish flakes that sometimes feel oily or scaly.

Often, dandruff is first discovered by seeing flakes of skin on hair, beard, clothes, or shoulders.

Certain people may be more susceptible to developing dandruff including:

  • Males
  • Young or middle-aged adults
  • Having Parkinson’s disease
  • Having HIV
  • Having a weakened immune system


What is dry scalp?

Dry scalp is, well, just what it sounds like - dry skin on your scalp.

Dry scalp can also cause irritation and scalp itchiness, and deposit little white flakes in your hair or on your clothes.

If the dry skin flakes are caused by dry skin, however, the flakes will likely be much smaller and whiter in color than dandruff flakes.

Also, the flakes and scalp tend to feel dry, not oily like with dandruff.

A sign that you may have a dry scalp and not dandruff is if you have constantly dry skin on other parts of your body.

Dry scalp may also be more common in the older population.

What can cause dandruff and dry scalp?

Dandruff may be caused by:

  • Hormones
  • Increased stress
  • Oily scalp buildup

Dry scalp may be caused by:

  • Dry, cold air
  • Not enough moisture in your skin
  • A skin reaction to products used on the area

How to treat dandruff and dry scalp?


  • Use an anti-dandruff shampoo regularly
  • Wash scalp with a gentle shampoo on a regular basis
  • Avoid excess oil buildup on the scalp
  • Reduce stress

Dry Scalp:

  • Use a gentle shampoo and a moisturizing conditioner
  • Apply a gentle moisturizer directly to the scalp
  • Stop using irritating hair products
  • Use a humidifier in your home or office
  • Protect the skin on your scalp with a hat in the cold

Dandruff VS. Dry Scalp summary:


  • Large, oily, white or yellow flakes
  • Itchy, red, oily scalp
  • Treat with a dandruff shampoo and regular washing

Dry Scalp:

  • Small white flakes
  • Itchy dry scalp
  • Dry skin elsewhere in your body
  • Treat with moisturizing products on your scalp

Need additional hair help?

Maybe your only issue with your hair is not just flakes, but that you also do not have quite as much of it as you used to.

Well, there are options out there!

Strut Hair Formula or Finasteride tablets and topical formulas may help you retain your current hair and potentially reduce the amount of hair loss over time.

Schedule an Online Visit with our U.S. licensed doctors today to see if these prescription hair options are a good fit for you.

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