The Difference Between Dandruff and Dry Scalps

difference between dandruff and dry scalp

Today we’re taking a quick but important look at the difference between dandruff and dry scalps. You see, dandruff and dry scalps may share the same main symptoms – falling flakes and itchy scalp – but they’re two entirely different conditions. In one – dry scalp – the skin is dealing with irritation. In the other – dandruff – the cause is an excess of oil on the scalp.

Dry Scalp

When the scalp is starved of moisture, the skin gets irritated and flakes away. Dry scalp can also be triggered by cold, dry air; aging; or even contact dermatitis caused by hair products you’ve been using. Symptoms include:

  • skin flaking
  • tightness on the scalp
  • itching
  • redness

Healthy skin seals in the moisture so your body remains hydrated. Once the outer layer is damaged, moisture escapes leading to the dryness. Dry scalp can also be caused by dandruff.

Dandruff

The primary cause is seborrheic dermatitis, a condition that makes the skin oily, scaly, and red. Seborrheic dermatitis can be found anywhere near an oil gland which includes the sides of the nose, armpits, groin, and eyebrows.

Another cause is a fungus called malassezia (try saying that three times fast. Or even one time fast!). It usually lives on most people’s scalps but when you have too much of it, it can lead to dandruff.

How To Tell The Difference

One way to tell is by how the flakes look. Dandruff flakes are larger, yellow or white, and appear oily whereas dry scalp flakes are smaller and drier. Both conditions cause an itchy scalp but only dandruff produces oily, red, scaly skin – and only dry scalp is associated with other patches of dry skin on the body. 

Treatment

The great news is that for dandruff, Reviv3’s three-part system does indeed return the scalp to a healthy state and help in controlling all scalp concerns (for the best results, we recommend you use it daily). Dandruff isn’t curable but Reviv3 helps manage those symptoms (the flakes and the itching!).

As for treating dry scalp, then you’ll want PRIME Moisture + Conditioner. Our clinical study shows that it balances the pH of the scalp. And in money-saving good news, PRIME is included in our Three Part System pack (as well as sold separately).

You can round out the treatment by spending a few minutes out in the sun each day. There is evidence that UV light exposure can help with dandruff but don’t overdo it because prolonged exposure might increase the risk of skin cancer.