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Itchy Scalp ? Dry Scalp, Dandruff, and Psoriasis Are All Different Things

Dry Scalp, Dandruff, and Psoriasis Are All Different Things

Having a dry scalp is not the same thing as dandruff.

Both can cause irritated scalps and itching but treatment is different. Psoriasis is also a different medical condition and will need treatment.


Dandruff is a broad term used to describe flaking of the scalp. There is a spectrum of presentation, and the cause is often multifactorial.

Seborrheic Dermatitis, aka dandruff, most commonly is associated with oily scalp, greasy scale, and itching. There is often buildup of dead skin and sebum. Malassezia, is a harmless yeast that makes up over 45% of natural skin flora of the scalp and plays a role in causing dandruff. Having dandruff does not mean your scalp is dirty or lacks hygiene

Can You Mix Normal Shampoos with Medicated Ones?

When you use anti-dandruff shampoos be cautious about using conditioner after.

If you are using a medicated shampoo, make sure to use a medicated conditioner as well.

Why? Studies have found when people use dandruff shampoo, specifically ones with zinc pyrithione, and they use a conditioner afterwards it can rinse away up to 50 percent of the medicated shampoo.

You want to leave the shampoo on your scalp for at least five minutes, massage into the scalp, and rinse thoroughly. I recommend using antidandruff shampoo’s 2-3 times per week. If improvement is not seen you may need a prescription shampoo.

Limit Hair Styling Products And Dry Shampoo

Hair products can create buildup on your scalp if you use them too often or don’t cleanse properly. This can create excess oil or buildup which can lead to dandruff. Try to minimize the amount of products you’re using, this includes dry shampoo. It is best to limit your use to once or twice a week when your hair is in need of a refresh. Using it daily can cause buildup.


As we head into fall, the indoor heat is likely responsible for an spike in flakiness. You may think those tiny white flakes are simply a result of dryness, but they are actually an overgrowth of yeast on the scalp. To help use shampoo and conditioner that contain zinc pyrithione. Zinc pyrithione hydrates a dry scalp and treats dandruff at the same time. Massaging the dandruff shampoo into your scalp and leave it on for a few minutes to really give it a chance to work. Because the yeast can contribute to the inflammation, washing your hair at once per day is helpful in controlling the yeast/oil production. Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory condition, not just dryness. When you wash your hair make sure you use warm, lukewarm water rather than hot water to help minimize irritation to your scalp.


I look for certain ingredients in the products I recommend like selenium sulfide, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid, and coal tar. Specifically, selenium sulfide can decrease irritation and itching and pyrithione zinc has antimicrobial properties that soothe irritation. Here are some of my suggestions for an Itchy Scalp:

Patch Test

If your dandruff is caused by allergic contact dermatitis, it’s a good idea to avoid allergens, such as those from chemical dyes or certain ingredients. Your board-certified dermatologist can help perform patch testing can be done to figure out what is causing the allergy. A prescription may be needed to help calm your skin


If you’ve tried switching up your hair care routine and have seen little to no results, we suggest scheduling an appointment with your dermatologist. A dermatologist may prescribe you an anti-inflammatory solution or an oral prescription.

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