Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp

Who doesn’t like silky, shiny hairs, and long hairs, we all especially females. Hair holds a special position in the overall personality of the person because of which many a very particular about their hair and takes special care.

But still, some issues might arise due either due to environmental conditions or to the internal immune system that may affect the health of hairs.

General issues concerning the hair and scalp are hair loss, fungal infections, disorders causing itching, dandruff, scaling, and dry scalp.

Among all Dandruff and Dry Scalp are most common that have almost similar symptoms like having a falling flake and dry & itchy scalp, but both are very different issues.

Dandruff vs Dry Scalp

The main difference between Dandruff and Dry Scalp is that Dandruff starts due to excessive oil on the scalp, whereas Dry Scalp happens due to loss off moisture from the scalp.

Dandruff vs Dry Scalp

In Dandruff, excessive skin oil on the scalp turns red and scaly which is termed as seborrheic dermatitis in medical terminology. This further causes the yellow or white scales flake off from the scalp.

In Dry Scalp condition, there is too little moisture left in the skin because of which skin becomes irritated and flakes off.


Comparison Table Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of ComparisonDandruffDry Scalp
DefinitionDandruff happens due to the excessive oil in the skin that causes excessive shedding of yellow or white scales i.e. dead skin cells from the scalp.Dry Scalp starts when a little moisture left in the skin. Skin becomes irritated and itchy, and then small white skin flakes fall off.
Main CauseExcessive oil in the skin.Dryness happens due to a little moisture left in the skin.
Exposure LimitationCaused by recurrent exposure to intense heat or cold conditions.Caused by excessive intense heat or cold conditions.
Accompanied ByDandruff can occur on any part of the body where oil glands are there.Dryness on the entire body.


What is Dandruff?

Dandruff is caused when oil glands of the body start producing excessive oil and that also gets over-produced on the scalp.

This excessive oil turns the skin, oily, red, and scaly, which further makes the dead skin that is known as dandruff flakes.

Dandruff flakes are larger as compared to dry scalp flakes and easily sheds off. Generally, they are white but can have a yellowish tinge and appear very oily.

The person who is suffering from dandruff has also itchiness on their scalp which may get worsen if the person scratches the same as it may cause bacterial infection. Thus, creating a possibility to infect the scalp badly with fungal infection too.

Flakes are very well visible on the shoulders of the person when they scratch the scalp.

Dead skin cells are shed by many parts of the body, the same happens with scalp too. But this process gets faster or speeds up when oil secretion becomes more.

People having sensitive skin or a very oily scalp is more prone to get the Dandruff problem. Recurrent exposure to intense heat or cold conditions can also cause Dandruff.

If the condition is not severe then it can be treated using any Anti-dandruff shampoo as per skin type, but if it is severe then to treat the same, one needs to consult a dermatologist.


What is Dry Scalp?

We all know moisture or oil makes the body skin more soft and supple but when there is too little oil or moisture left in your body skin, then it becomes dry.

This also stands true for the scalp as it becomes very dry, irritated, and flaky if moisture in it is too little, which causes Dry Scalp.

Many factors may cause Dry Scalp such as dry or cold air leaving the skin moisture-less, due to winter season, dehydration, excessive washing of hairs, use of wrong shampoo products, or any fungal infection on the skin like eczema.

People who already have dry skin are more prone to the Dry Scalp issue. Flaking, itching, irritation, and dry hair are common symptoms in Dry Scalp.

Generally, small and white flakes are there in Dry Scalp that look somewhat similar to dandruff flakes but these flakes are not as oily as they are in Dandruff.

One should not scratch the scalp if itching happens as it can sore the scalp with skin redness and scabs under the hair.

If you are having a mild dryness on your scalp then limiting hair wash using a gentle shampoo along with quality moisturizing conditioner, with lukewarm water not too hot or not too cold, can help.

But if the condition is severe, then consulting a dermatologist is suggested.

Dry Scalp

Main Differences Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp

People often say there is no difference between Dandruff and Dry Scalp as in both cases skin under the hair becomes itchy, irritated, and flakes shed off.

But the underlying essence of the issue in both circumstances is very different that one must know so that it can be properly treated, else it won’t take much time for converting the condition from mild to severe.

  1. Dandruff happens when excessive oil is produced by the oil glands of the scalp skin, whereas Dry Scalp happens because there is too little moisture left in the skin.
  2. The process of producing oil in the skin becomes very fast in the case of Dandruff that further increases the dead skin cells known as flakes, whereas in Dry Scalp, no oil production happens and flakes are part of dry skin only.
  3. Dandruff flakes are larger, whereas Dry Scalp Flakes are smaller in size.
  4. Dandruff flakes easily shed off when one scratches the scalp, whereas in Dry Scalp flakes don’t shed off easily but scratching makes the scalp to sore.
Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp



Following a healthy lifestyle, exercising, keeping yourself hydrated, regularly consulting your healthcare, and using only authentic quality products is a basic requirement to keep yourself and your skin healthy.

Dandruff and Dry Scalp are not scary conditions and can be treated well but one has to understand whether he/she is suffering from Dandruff or Dry Scalp, else it can only worsen the condition.

Key Differences Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp (PDF Format)

Download the key differences in .PDF format, to read or print them later:

Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalp



  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15525864
  2. https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/82696555.pdf
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3129121/
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