Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp

We’ve all seen the commercials: someone suddenly notices white flakes on the shoulder of his or her dark clothes, and then you see the dramatic embarrassment and horror. A dandruff shampoo is recommended and then they become flake-free. Thanks to these commercials, we are very familiar with dandruff and how to treat it. However, it is often used interchangeably with dry skin despite the fact that there are differences between the two.

What is dry scalp?

Dry scalp is what most people who think they have dandruff actually have: small white flakes of dry skin from your scalp that are caused by lack of moisture, use of harsh hair products, and changing of the seasons. People may notice this condition more in the winter when the air is dry and it is tempting to take hot showers, which dries out skin. Unlike dandruff treatment, dry scalp may not necessarily require using a medicated shampoo. Staying hydrated, using warm water, gently massaging the scalp and applying natural oils may help resolve the problem.

What is dandruff?

Dandruff is a chronic condition characterized by larger oily yellow or grey flakes that shed from the scalp and cause itching. Unlike dry scalp, it is usually caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, as well as improper shampooing or excessive hair products. In the case of moderate/severe dandruff, it is appropriate to use medicated shampoo. Other remedies include tea tree oil, a better diet, and regular hair washing.

If you are unsure whether or not you have dry scalp or dandruff, or your dandruff isn’t going away even after use of medicated shampoo, please consult with Dr. Juan Vaillant of Old Bridge Dermatology, a board-certified dermatologist serving the Old Bridge, NJ area. Not only does he have the skills and state-of-the-art technology to aid him, but he also cares about each individual patient and takes the time to diagnose and treat all skin conditions. Whether you have acne, nail fungus, or skin cancer, we can help so contact us or call (732) 679-0222 to make an appointment!