Are you wondering whether you have a dry scalp or dandruff?
You may be confusing dry scalp with dandruff. To a certain extent, dry scalp and dandruff have similar symptoms. While dry scalp is usually characterized by smaller flakes, dandruff flakes are usually larger and oilier (they are usually white or yellow). A good indicator for dry scalp is that you have other dry patches on your body as well. Dandruff is usually concentrated in the scalp area unless you have dandruff that is caused by psoriasis or seborrheic dermatitis.
I have created a short quiz to assess your condition according to the answers that you provide. Simply select one option for each of the 4 questions and then hit the submit button.
After taking the dry scalp or dandruff quiz, please feel free more about each condition and possible treatments below! This quiz serves as a personal guideline but you should always see a dermatologist if you want to know for sure.
Dry Scalp or Dandruff Quiz
What is Dry Scalp?
To start off, the term dry scalp is actually not a medical term.
Having a dry scalp is closely related to having dry skin, in general. It just describes the condition of the skin, but not necessarily what is causing it.
There are several reasons why you may just be having a dry scalp. For example, cold weather is often in climate areas with low moisture. That can leave your skin dry. You could also have dry skin if you do anything that decreases the oil on your scalp.
Your scalp is naturally oily. These natural oils are called sebum and are produced by the Seboherric Glands . If your scalp is not covered by enough sebum you may feel a slight itch. Subsequently, this could lead to your skin flaking off. Dry skin can also apply to other parts of your body, such as your face, hands, and feet.
How does Dry Scalp Look Like?
Flakes from a dry scalp are usually very fine and small. I usually equate them to the dry patches you have when scratching your arms for example.
During really dry and cold seasons, when I scratch my arm, my skin started to peel very slightly, shedding very small flakes. Before I developed dandruff, I had dry skin on my scalp as well. The dead skin did not really flake off until I started scratching it, whenever it was itchy.
How to Treat Dry Scalp?
As I have already mentioned, dry scalp can occur due to several reasons. Cold weather can cause dry scalp, as it absorbs a lot of moisture from your skin.
Additionally old age and genetics are partially blamed as a cause. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to do anything about your genetics and age, but there are plenty of other alternatives. There are several ways to mitigate the dryness to your scalp.
Don’t wash your hair with shampoo too often
Try to wash your hair every 1 – 2 days. If you wash your hair with shampoo too many times a day, or the shampoo itself contains harsh chemicals, it can leave your scalp extremely dry.
Use a scalp moisturizers
There are many moisturizers with rejuvenating properties such as aloe vera and hyaluronic acid. They are designed to sooth the skin and enable it to stay moisturized.
Use scalp and hair oils
What is Dandruff?
In order to understand if you have a dry scalp or dandruff, let’s find out what dandruff actually is. Dandruff is a common skin condition that appears on the scalp. Dead skin cells often appear in the form of flakes on the scalp and in the hair. Dandruff is not a rare occurrence amongst men and women. An estimated 50% of people suffer from Dandruff . There are many causes for dandruff, the mains causes of dandruff are due to the following conditions:
If you have dry scalp for a longer period of time, it may peel off naturally. Dry skin, especially on the scalp can turn itchy and when scratching can create small flakes.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that is mainly found on the scalp. Your scalp will have an inflammatory reaction and will appear red and dry. Due to increased skin cell renewal, the dead layer of skin will flake and fall off. Seborrheic dermatitis is also common in other oily parts of your body, such as the nose, ears, and eyebrows .
Eczema is a skin condition that is similar to seborrheic dermatitis and leaves rough inflamed patches on your scalp and other parts of your body. Similarly, you may also feel a very itchy sensation when dealing with eczema.
Psoriasis is a more serious skin condition. It drastically increases your epidermal cell turnover rate. This process creates new skin cells at a much faster rate. It sheds off the old ones that appear like dry layers of skin [X]. Research shows that psoriasis is an immune system dysfunction.
Scalp infections are also a cause for dandruff. Ringworm (tinea capitis) is a fungal infection on our scalp which leaves ring-like dry patches that tend to flake off.
How does Dandruff Look Like?
Dandruff has the appearance of thick flaky skin on the scalp or in the hair. These skin flakes are white or yellow in color and can also appear on other oily parts of your face, such as your eyebrows or beard.
I had dandruff! Well, since you can’t really cure it but only control it, I shall rephrase my statement. I have dandruff! For the longest time. It started about 15 years ago. I can tell you that I was very demotivated initially, but managed to overcome it, and so can you!
When you have dandruff you can almost instantly tell. You will notice the itchy sensation on your scalp and when you scratch certain areas, where you have dry skin patches, flakes will fall. It can be a very embarrassing situation at first, but once you get the situation under control, it’s a piece of cake.
How to Treat Dandruff?
The first thing that I need to tell you is that dandruff is a chronic condition. I know, it sounds bad at first but it’s actually harmless. With that in mind, dandruff is technically not curable, but managing it is much easier than you think.
In fact, it’s become part of my standard routine, that I sometimes don’t even realize that I have it anymore. There are several ways to treat dandruff. This list is definitely not exhaustive, but it will give you a general gist.
There are many dandruff shampoos on the market. I have tried so many of the wrong kind! I want you to save your money instead and first find out which one is the best for you. When it comes to picking a shampoo, make sure the ingredients are what you need for your condition. Anti-dandruff shampoos usually have one or more of these ingredients:
- Selenium sulfide
- Ciclopirox olamine
- Zinc pyrithione
- Coal tar
Home Remedies for Dandruff
There are also many home remedies for dandruff free hair. Home remedies are great to use as they are usually inexpensive and contain no chemicals. There is a whole list of home remedies available that work great against dandruff, but here are the top 4 that have worked best for me.
- Tea tree oil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Lemon juice
- Coconut oil
I often use these natural home remedies after I have washed my hair with an anti-dandruff shampoo. Home remedies are great to use if you have dry scalp, seborrheic dermatitis or scalp psoriasis. Home treatments will not only help you to get rid of your dandruff, but it will also help to moisturize your hair ensuring that it getting all the essential nutrients. Feel free to read my step-by-step guide on the best oils to use for dandruff.
Maintaining a well-balanced diet is essential for getting rid of dandruff. I do not really recommend to follow a strict diet plan. That’s because I believe in a little more flexibility. However, I always try to incorporate essential vitamins and minerals into my daily meals. This ensures that my hair is as dandruff-free as possible.
Healthy vitamins and minerals you should include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Omega-3 Fatty Acid
I hope this dry scalp or dandruff quiz was able to assist you in understanding which condition you have. I also hope that it helped you shed some light on understanding these conditions a little more. It can sometimes be confusing, as it was for me, as dry scalp and dandruff look very similar and have overlapping symptoms. This quiz should give you a good idea of what condition you are having.
All you need to remember is that dry scalp usually has smaller white flakes that are dry, whereas dandruff usually has bigger yellow or white flakes which tend to be more oily.
Please make sure that you do not take this quiz or material as medical advice. The information here is from years of research and personal experience. If you are looking for a professional diagnosis, please consult a dermatologist.