You might assume it is just dandruff if you have an itchy scalp. However, it might signify something more, like a dry scalp. Even though dandruff and dry scalp have similar symptoms, they are two different conditions. Understanding the difference between the two helps you get the proper treatment. Here are some ways to tell what you are dealing with.
Why do I Have Dandruff
Like the rest of your body, your scalp sheds dead skin. Dandruff is the result of this process. Therefore, the faster your skin sheds, the more dandruff is produced. For instance, there are certain factors that alter the rate your skin sheds, like fungal infections, sensitivity to hair products and the oils your scalp secretes. These three work together and make dandruff worse. However, other scalp conditions mimic the symptoms; it may not just be dandruff.
Most individuals naturally have a fungus called Malassezia on their scalp, but it does not cause trouble. Yet, this fungus causes irritation and flakes in people with dandruff. A study conducted shows a close relationship with dandruff and scalp bacteria.
Is It A dry Scalp
A dry scalp is the result of the skin not producing enough oil to keep the scalp lubricated. This causes itching, irritation and flakes, like some other forms of dry skin. Oil from your scalp conditions your hair. When you do not have enough oil, your hair looks dry and brittle. People who already have dry skin are more likely to suffer from a dry scalp. A few things like dry air, excessive washing and certain skin conditions make you prone to a dry scalp.
What Symptoms To Expect
Individuals with a dry scalp might notice they shed flakes from their scalps. Unlike dandruff flakes, a dry scalp will have whiter, smaller flakes. On the other hand, dandruff flakes tend to be large and yellowish or oily in appearance. Both conditions seem to come and go, but dandruff due to fungal infections won’t get better without the proper treatment. Also, give shampooing less a try if you want to get rid of a dry scalp.
Both of these conditions make your scalp feel irritated. If you experience severe symptoms, you might itch your scalp to the point that it is red, tender or bleeding.
Do I Need To See A Doctor
Dandruff and a dry scalp are usually easily managed at home. However, other scalp conditions mimic dandruff. For example, scalp psoriasis causes irritation on the scalp caused by an autoimmune disorder. Another form of dandruff called seborrheic dermatitis causes intensive tenderness on the scalp. You should see a doctor for your scalp:
- If there are other symptoms like sores and redness.
- At-home treatments are not working.
- If there are any open wounds on your head.
If you have an autoimmune disorder or chronic illness, call your doctor before attempting treatment. A weakened immune system increases the chance a scalp condition will get worse.
When do I Need Treatment
If you have dandruff, try using an anti-dandruff shampoo when washing your hair. Not only does this help treat fungal infections, but it also treats many of dandruff’s underlying conditions. This is because the majority of dandruff shampoo contains pyrithione, which has antifungal and antimicrobial properties. Another option is coal car shampoo, but this shampoo can change your hair color.
If a dry scalp is your problem, using a hydrating shampoo is one way to get some moisture onto your scalp. Massage three teaspoons of coconut oil onto your scalp, then wait an hour before rinsing it out to hydrate and get rid of flakes.
How To Prevent Flakes
The misconception that bad hygiene causes dandruff and dry scalp is a myth. Unfortunately, researchers do not know the exact cause of dandruff. For most people, dandruff is a chronic condition that can go away and then come back. Lifestyle changes to reduce dry scalp and dandruff can help to get rid of or reduce your symptoms.
It might be possible to try and prevent a dry scalp. Treatments like using less irritating shampoo, shampooing less often, drinking more water or using a humidifier are great ways to help with a dry scalp.
Everyone is different, so there is no right amount of time to wash your hair each week. Get the proper shampoo or other treatments for the best ways to reduce any irritation. If it is dandruff or a dry scalp, get the appropriate treatment to slow the side effects.