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itchy | flaky | dry

There are generally 2 conditions that can cause itchy, flaky scalp. They are dandruff or dry scalp. These both have similar symptoms but the treatment and causes are very different.

First, let’s look at dry scalp. This is where the skin gets irritated and flakes off. The causes of dry scalp consist of several factors:

  • Summer: Cold, dry air | Winter - Hot, dry air (dry indoor environments.)

  • Products like certain shampoo, styling gel, and hairspray (alcohol based or drying agents, etc...)

  • Old age

Now, let’s look at dandruff. This is where there is too much oil on the scalp. That excess oil causes skin cells to build up and then shed. A fungus called Malassezia causes dandruff. It is occasionally normal flora and can cause no problems, but when the right environment exists, it can multiply rapidly and cause skin cells to multiply more quickly than usual.

Certain factors can cause Malassezia including:

  • Age

  • Hormones

  • Stress

  • Diet

  • Low Immune

A quick differentiator between dry scalp flakes and dandruff is the appearance.

Dandruff - oily, large flakes that are yellow or white, itchy scalp, oily, red, scaly skin on scalp and body (but can be localized to scalp.)

Dry scalp - small, dry flakes, itchy scalp, dry skin on other parts of your body.

Treatment: (remember, you can always ask your hair stylist suggestions)

Dry scalp:

  • Wash with a gentle shampoo and rinse well.

  • Use a moisturizing conditioner

  • Ask your hair stylist if they can perform a scalp treatment that uses steam to deliver more moisture to your scalp. (If not, then ask your stylist to recommend one.)


  • Wash with a mild and gentle shampoo to rid the excess oils and skin

  • If severe flaking exists then use medicated shampoos that contain any of these: Pyrithione zinc. Selenium sulfide, Ketoconazole, Salicylic acid or coal tar. (all can be found over-the-counter in shampoos)

There are natural remedies for dandruff that can be found here: Help

When it is time to see a doctor:

If you’ve tried a dandruff shampoo for at least a month and your flakes haven’t improved, symptoms are getting worse, or the skin on your scalp looks red or swollen, make an appointment with a dermatologist.

Hope this has helped some in your journey to getting some relief. Until next time, take care and feel good!!!

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