Dry Flaky Scalp: Is it Dandruff? Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Shahid Iquebal   by Shahid Iquebal, M.Pharm.    Last updated on September 27, 2019,

dry flaky scalp

Dry flaky scalp: What is it? What are the causes of dry flaky scalp?

If you have a dry, flaking scalp, you may think it is dandruff. But, it may be a sign of your dry scalp.

Dandruff and flaky scalp are two different things, though they usually have the same common symptom - flakes that fall off the hair and an itchy scalp.

A dry, flaky scalp can be the result of a variety of conditions. Some common causes of dry flaky scalp are:

There could be many more reasons that contribute to flaky scalp and poor scalp health.

What are the triggering factors for dry flaky scalp?

You develop dry scalp when your skin has too little moisture (dehydration). The skin on the scalp becomes irritated and causes flakes to fall off the head.

Dry flaky scalp can be triggered by many factors. Some of them are:

  • Cold and dry air
  • Too much shampoo use, styling gel, and hairspray
  • Age

Symptoms of dandruff vs. dry flaky scalp

Dandruff can show different signs and symptoms than the symptoms of dry flaky scalp in many ways such as:

  • Dandruff causes large oily flakes that are generally white in colour. On the other hand, dry scalp causes smaller and dry flakes.
  • Dandruff causes oily, red, and scaly skin, which does not occur in dry scalp.
  • If you have dry scalp, usually, skin on other parts of the body is also dry. This is not so in case you have dandruff.
  • Both causes itchy scalp.


More: Simple Tips To Get Rid Of Dandruff: Natural Home Remedies For Dandruff

More: Dandruff: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment

Treatment of dry flaky scalp and itchy flaky scalp: How to get rid of dry scalp?

Use less shampoo

Avoid too much of shampoo. If you use it too much, the chances of the residue left behind increase.

Get rid of the dried skin cells

Getting rid of dry, dead skin cells is good for your scalp. Mix a tablespoon of sugar with your shampoo and gently apply it on your scalp with your fingers.

Avoid extremely hot water

Hot water can make your scalp skin more dry and flaky. Avoid heat styling products too such as a blow-dryer. Extreme heat can cause the scalp to become irritated, dry, and flaky.

Scalp massage

Scalp massage allows the blood to flow to the scalp and clears the blocked pores that may be interfering with sebum (oil produced in the sebaceous glands of the scalp) production.

Massaging the scalp also helps loosen any excess dead skin, making it easier to wash away.

Apply oil

Apply oil to the scalp. Apply the oil to your scalp using gentle motions of the fingers. Cover the entire scalp with oil. Once the oil is applied entirely on the scalp, cover the head with a wrap. Leave it for about an hour. Rinse it well with lukewarm water and shampoo it well. You can use a moisturizing conditioner.

Prevention of dry flaky scalp and itchy flaky scalp

Here are some ways to prevent dry flaky scalp and itchy flaky scalp.

Wash your hair often with an antidandruff shampoo. Always ensure to rinse out all the shampoo. If the residue remains, it can cause itchy flaky scalp.

Avoid using hair products that contain harsh chemicals such as bleach. They can dry out your scalp further.

Avoid oily hair products because they can build up on the scalp.

Stay out in the sun every day for some time. Some scientists say that ultraviolet light exposure can help control dandruff and dry flaky scalp. But don’t get too much sun exposure because it can increase the risk for skin cancer.

Outlook: Is there a cure for dry flaky scalp or dandruff?

There s no cure for dry flaky scalp r dandruff. You will have to manage the symptoms over a long time. Generally, these dry flakes come and go. Treating it with a special medicated shampoo can help manage the condition and prevent itching, irritation, and flakiness.

Shahid Iquebal

Shahid is a pharmacologist with masters in pharmaceutical sciences and pharmacology. In the past, he worked for Maxinov Healthcare Research Division and R.P Biotech. At DiseaseFix, he is a content guide and writer. He is also associated as a researcher with Integrated Resources Pvt Ltd. currently. Shahid’s areas of interests include cellular and molecular pharmacology, pre-clinical screening, and systemic and clinical Pharmacology.

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