Dry Scalp vs Dandruff: 5 Ways to Avoid Flaking

Dry Scalp vs Dandruff: 5 Ways to Avoid Flaking

If you’ve struggled with a dry, itchy, and irritated scalp that results in falling flakes of dead skin, then you may be dealing with dandruff or dry skin. But what’s the difference? Typically, a dry scalp causes your skin to feel irritated and flake, whereas dandruff results from high oil production and skin cell build-up that eventually sheds into tiny white flakes. Either way, it can leave your head feeling like a withering old dust bowl in the peak of summer.  

Once you know which condition you’re struggling with, you can determine which treatment would best suit your needs and stop your scalp from flaking once and for all. Below, here are our top 5 ways, including products and lifestyle changes, to avoid a flaky scalp. 

1. Use a scalp scrub.

All hair types can benefit from scalp scrubs. Not only are they great for purifying the skin, but they also provide instant relief, hydrating and detoxifying the scalp. The best scrubs are infused with sea salt. This promotes healthy blood circulation and rids your skin and hair follicles of any build-up. Scalp scrubs also work well as a shampoo replacement; just make sure to follow up with a nourishing conditioner on the ends of your hair. Take care to avoid scrubs that contain harsh chemicals or abrasive exfoliants, such as walnuts or apricot pits. These ingredients can further irritate your scalp and cause microabrasions that increase itching and worsen flaking.

2. Invest in the proper shampoo.

Another way to avoid flaking is by cleansing with a gentle shampoo. For dry scalp, you should focus more on moisturizing your skin with a conditioner or steam treatment. If you struggle with dandruff, experts recommend washing your hair with dandruff shampoo to reduce the amount of oil and, in turn, reduce flaking skin.

For best results, be sure to use a shampoo that contains some of the following ingredients:

  • Pyrithione Zinc: This antifungal drug is strong enough to kill any fungus that may be found on your scalp but gentle enough to use daily.
  • Selenium Sulfide: Commonly found in most dandruff shampoos, this ingredient prevents the death of too many skin cells and reduces fungus growth. 
  • Ketoconazole: This over-the-counter ingredient delivers prescription-strength healing by killing dandruff-causing fungi at the source.
  • Salicylic Acid: This ingredient removes the layer of dead skin from your scalp before it flakes off. However, some people experience worse flaking and dehydrated skin when using this ingredient. Consult your doctor before using any products with salicylic acid.
  • Coal Tar: Tar-based shampoos work by slowing the growth of skin cells and prevent shedding.
  • Tea Tree Oil: Shampoos that contain this essential oil reduce scaling and fungus growth while promoting healthy hair growth.

Dry Scalp or Dandruff? Here Are 4 Ways to Avoid Flaking

3. Rethink your styling products and habits.

If dry scalp is your main concern, you may want to change your styling products and/or habits. Certain gels, pomades, creams, balms, and sprays can build up on your scalp and cause itching and flaking. In some cases, these products can cause contact dermatitis rash, irritation, and other allergic reactions. While shampooing your hair may seem like the proper solution, it could be feeding the problem. Both frequent and infrequent shampooing can worsen dry scalp by drying out the skin or allowing for intense oil build-up.

4. Practice self-care.

Many things can lead to or worsen a dry, flaking scalp, including weather, stress, and diet. On the bright side, there are a few simple remedies to counteract the effects of these triggers.

These remedies include:

  • Spending time in the sun. Exposure to ultraviolet light is known to help control dandruff. Just remember to wear SPF.
  • Taking time to relax. Practice meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, and other relaxation activities to manage your stress levels and prevent flare-ups of flaking.
  • Giving your scalp some TLC. Before you wet your hair, exfoliate and massage your scalp with a hairbrush or your fingers. Doing so will increase blood circulation and loosen any impurities or build-up from your scalp.
  • Changing your diet. If you struggle with dandruff, cut out carbs and sugars and start taking a multivitamin to help keep your skin healthy. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water also helps avoid flaking.

Dry Scalp or Dandruff? Here Are 4 Ways to Avoid Flaking

5. Don’t forget to visit a professional.

While these tips are simple to follow, the best results come from the expertise of hair and skincare professionals. Here at Genesis, our estheticians and trained cosmetologists will be able to assess and help treat your skin concerns. On top of using high-quality products, our professionals will advise you on how to care for your scalp at home. Contact us today to book an appointment with one of our estheticians or cosmetologists! 

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