Eek! Itchy scalp AND flakes?! Must be dandruff, right? Maybe, maybe not.

Is it dandruff or is your scalp just dry? Dry scalp and dandruff can look similar but are caused by different conditions. If you look a lil' closer, you'll discover a few things that set them up apart.

As similar as these conditions may seem, knowing the difference between them will help you understand how to treat your itchy, flaky scalp.


A dry scalp is caused by your sebaceous glands being unable to produce enough natural oils to keep the skin on your head moisturized. As a result, the top layer of skin on the scalp dries out and begins to crack and shed into tiny little white flakes. And the itchiness? Well, just like the skin on other parts of the body, once the scalp gets dry it can get irritated and itchy. Another common sign of a dry scalp is dry hair. The lack of sebum not only deprives the scalp of moisture but the hair shaft as well, leaving ends feeling and looking dull and rough.


  • Cold, dry climates
  • Over-shampooing

  • Drying products (hairspray, styling gel, etc.)

  • Dehydration


Dandruff is caused by a condition called seborrheic dermatitis which causes the scalp to become oily, red, and scaly. Normally, the skin cells on the scalp multiply when you need more of them and then shed off and die but with dandruff, the skin cells multiply and shed faster than usual. The best way to tell if it is dandruff is by the flakes. Due to the oiliness and overgrowth of skin, dandruff flakes are often larger and sometimes yellow.


Most people believe that dandruff is caused by poor hygiene. Although a dirty scalp and hair can certainly aggravate and contribute to the condition, the true culprit is a fungus called Malassezia. It can be found in every head of hair, but some people have more of it than others which is what causes their skin cells to multiply quicker.

How do you treat itchy, dry, flaky, scalp?

If you suspect that you have a dry scalp, be sure to use a gentle and moisturizing shampoo that will not further dry out your scalp and hair. Always be sure to follow that up with a silicone-free conditioner and styling products that help to keep your hair hydrated.

Massaging oil into your scalp is also a great way to prevent it from getting dry and flaky. The Donna's Recipe Strength Hair Oil  Jojoba Oil (plus other amazing ingredients) which simulates the texture and consistency of the natural oil your scalp produces, making it less likely to build up on your skin/scalp and clog your pores and hair follicles.

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