Most people have a hard time distinguishing these two scalp conditions. Others, still, believe that the two are one in the same. The truth is that they are different. Most importantly, dry scalp is largely caused by lack of moisture, on the skin while dandruff is caused by too much oil (sebum) on the scalp.
Contrary to what many believe, dandruff is not caused by dryness, but by excess oil on the scalp. It is often a product of an over-growth of harmless yeast. In some patients, the yeast starts to feed on dead skin cells and on excess oil, causing skin cells to shed more often and clomp into flakes.
Dry scalp, on the other hand, is caused by dryness. This dryness may be caused by a number of factors, including use of inappropriate soaps and detergents, extreme weather, chemicals buildup, and poor diet (including excess caffeine intake).
Signs and symptoms of dandruff are large flakes that may not come off easily while those of dry scalp are itching and small white flakes that come off easily. While dandruff may not be treated but can be prevented and controlled, dry scalp can be treated by use of natural remedies like apple cider vinegar to restore the PH of the scalp and remove product buildup. Natural oils, including coconut, jojoba, and olive oil may also be effective in treating dry scalp.
While major causes of dry scalp are largely external, those of dandruff are often internal. Some of the major internal causes of dandruff include excessive consumption of sugars, fats, and starch; improper nutrition, and especially one that contains excess fats; hormonal imbalance; allergic hypersensitivity; hereditary disposition; and overall poor health.
On the other hand, external causes are almost similar. Some of these include excessive use of hair products, cold weather, and excessive use of hot hair curlers.
One of the easiest ways of dealing with dry scalp is by drinking plenty of water on a regular basis to re-hydrate the scalp. Better yet, it is advisable to leave natural oils to regenerate by reducing hair-wash frequencies. Dandruff, on the other hand, can easily be controlled by using anti-dandruff shampoos.
These shampoos contain an active ingredient called salicylic acid, which is effective in removing dead skins from the scalp and reducing the rate at which these cells are created. You should not believe that less shampooing, or no shampooing at all, will eliminate dandruff. Doing this, sadly, only leads to accumulation of oil and dead cells, which yeast and fungi feed on, making dandruff worse.