Dandruff and dry scalp have the same symptoms but are not the same thing. Here, we’ll take a look at the causes. And then, we’ll tell you how to get rid of dandruff and dry scalp the natural way.
Dandruff and dry scalp are embarrassing side effects of a deeper condition. You may not even realize you suffer from the afflictions until someone else points it out. Or you wear your favorite black shirt only to realize the shoulders are covered in flaky, dead skin.
What causes dandruff and dry scalp? What are these conditions? And more importantly, there’s the question of how to get rid of dandruff and dry scalp? In this article, we will take a closer look at the two conditions that appear similar on so many levels. We will also look at remedies and treatments for minor to mild cases.
As always, if you suffer discomfort, pain or notice bleeding, you may suffer from other illnesses and should seek medical advice.
What’s the Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp?
Before we tell you how to get rid of dandruff and dry scalp, let’s discuss the difference between the two.
Dandruff is, in essence, dry skin that has flaked off the scalp. It isn’t painful, but it can cause some itching. Our skin dies and replenishes itself on a daily basis all over our bodies. However, when skin cells grow too rapidly and die too soon, the result is dandruff.
Dry scalp, on the other hand, is the irritation of the skin cells that causes them to die and flake off. The root causes are different between dandruff and dry scalp, but the result is the same: flakes of dead skin in your hair and falling, noticeably, on your clothing and other areas.
Understanding which one you suffer from, either dandruff or dry scalp, will help you combat the problem better. If you have dry scalp, for example, and treatment for dandruff, you won’t fix the problem.
What Causes Dandruff and Dry Skin?
To learn how to get rid of dandruff and dry scalp, we need to know what causes them. There are many causes of each of the problems. These causes can even be similar; it is all about how our bodies react to these causes that determine the issue.
Seborrhea is one major cause of dandruff. It can also affect other areas of the body such as the ears, the chest, and face. If you notice flaking in these areas instead of just your scalp, you may have Seborrhea and should talk to a doctor about treatments and solutions.
Dry, arid temperatures can also affect the skin on the scalp, resulting in flaking and peeling. Dry scalp can also be triggered by hair care products, wearing hats or constantly brushing, combing or styling your hair.
Stress, illness and even cold ambient air can also cause dry scalp and dandruff. Knowing the cause of your condition will also help figure how to get rid of your dandruff and dry scalp. For example, if you start seeing flakes and the only change is a new hairspray, the product may be causing your scalp irritation.
By ceasing the use of the product, you may eliminate the problem altogether. Although a common thought, dirty hair doesn’t cause dry scalp or dandruff. It isn’t a cleanliness issue.
However, if you do not wash your hair and scalp, often enough oils will build up on the scalp that can lead to a condition known as Malassezia. This is a fungus that is naturally on our scalp, but too many oils will cause it to create dandruff.
Symptoms of Dandruff and Dry Scalp
When you overproduce skin cells (dandruff) or have irritation by natural, environmental or chemical means (dry scalp), there are a few symptoms you should be aware of.
The first obviously is the accumulation of the dead cells in your hair or clothing. These may be difficult to spot if the case is mild or if you have light colored hair. On darker hair or darker clothing, the skin cells will show up more readily.
You should also note if you are constantly scratching your head. Dry scalp and dandruff can cause itching as the cells are dying and starting to flake. When you scratch, you are basically removing the loose, as well as not quite detached, cells and may see them fall on your clothing or in front of you.
You can thank the movie The Breakfast Club for the stunning visual you get when you think of scratching dandruff from your scalp.
If you have larger, oily flakes, red, scaly skin or itching you have dandruff. Likewise, if you have small, dry flakes, dry skin on other parts of your body and itching scalp, you suffer from dry scalp.
As you can see, the itching is the only similar side effect. Being able to identify which condition you have is paramount for treatment.
How to Get Rid of Dandruff and Dry Scalp
So, now we’re back to the question of how to get rid of dandruff and dry scalp? There are both natural and medicinal methods of treatment and some will work better than others. As stated previously, it is paramount you know which condition you suffer from. Treating for the wrong one can cause the other.
Also, if you have the ability to narrow down the root cause of the problem, you can effectively treat the underlying condition, and dandruff or dry scalp will clear up on its own.
Here are some of the most common treatment options available to you. If you are ever in doubt, you should seek medical advice from a doctor or dermatologist.
1. Medicinal Shampoos
One of the most common treatments is through medicinal shampoos. These shampoos will contain zinc pyrithione. This chemical targets and kills bacteria (such as Malassezia) and allows the skin cells to come off and be washed away when you rinse.
You may find other ingredients in some shampoos that do the same, or similar, attacking of fungus and bacteria. These ingredients include:
- Coal tar – For dandruff, counteracts the growth and rapid death of skin cells.
- Ketoconazole – For dandruff, fights fungus on the scalp.
- Selenium sulfide – For dandruff, counteracts the growth and rapid death of skin cells
- Salicylic acid – for dry scalp, removes flakes for easier rinsing and removal from hair.
If you see these ingredients then the shampoo label, then you can rest assured that they will tackle the underlying problem and make the flakes easier to wash away.
2. Natural Treatments
If the case is environmental in nature or mild without redness or other more serious factors, you may be able to treat dandruff or dry scalp with natural remedies from items you probably already have in your cupboards.
Take Two Aspirin
Aspirin contains salicylic acid. Crushing two aspirin into powder and adding to your normal dose of shampoo will have the same effect as purchasing a bottle of shampoo with the salicylic acid already included.
Baking Soda Shampoo
Instead of using shampoo, use a handful of baking soda. The baking soda will remove excess oils on the scalp with can lead to dandruff. Wash with the baking soda as you would with shampoo, rinse and repeat for a couple of weeks. Your scalp will begin producing natural oils after 10 to 14 days and your hair and scalp will return to normal.
Gargle and Spit
Alcohol-based mouthwash is great for killing bacteria. This is why we rinse our mouths with it. However, if you suffer from dandruff causing bacterias, you can wash your hair in it too. Just follow your normal shower routine. Except after the shampoo and before your conditioner, wash with a cap full of mouthwash.
The Smell of Lemons
Using lemon juice to wash your hair will help restore the natural ph of your scalp. This will eliminate dry scalp and, eventually, the flakes that go along with it. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze one half into a small dish and the other half into a glass of warm water.
Wash your hair with the lemon juice and rinse as normal. The rinse again with the lemon water. Repeat until the flakes are gone, usually a week or two. The acidic lemon juice will balance the alkaline (or lower ph) of your scalp.
Dandruff and dry scalp are not contagious afflictions nor are they harmful (beyond itching and redness.). Instead, they are symptoms of embarrassing skin cells that die and flake off of our scalps and get caught in our hair or appear on our clothing. Still, it’s only natural for us to want to know how to get rid of dandruff and dry scalp.
In some instances, the causes are due to fungus or bacteria and can easily be treated by a visit to your doctor or dermatologist. For other more mild cases, you can simply treat yourself at home with medicinal shampoos you can purchase anywhere shampoo is sold, or by trying a natural home remedy with items you may already have in your possession.
Most home remedies will take two weeks or more to treat fully, so be patient and don’t give up.
If dandruff or dry scalp does not clear up in a relatively short amount of time, or the condition worsens, you should always seek the professional advice of a doctor or skin care specialist.
Featured image: CC0 Public Domain Ales Kartal via Pixabay.