Do I Have Dandruff Or A Dry Scalp?

Q. I’ve noticed powdery white flakes on my shoulders – does that mean I have dandruff? How did I get it and what can I do about it?

A. It could be that you’re suffering from a dry scalp. Turn your head upside down and brush your hair over some dark fabric or paper. If the flakes are small and powdery, it’s likely you have a dry scalp. If they are large, clumpy and moist, it’s likely you have dandruff. Both can be treated and are temporary conditions. A dry scalp may be caused by stress, tiredness or insufficient rinsing of shampoos and conditioners. Give your scalp a gentle massage once a week with warm oils, such as almond, before shampooing out. Keep hair scrupulously clean, washing frequently with a gentle shampoo.

Although dandruff also results in flakes from the scalp, it’s more likely to be caused by oily conditions than dry ones. The dead cells from the scalp pick up excess sebum, which is why they can fall in clumps. Use a specifically formulated shampoo – there are a number of them on the market – and use it regularly, alternating it with your regular shampoo. Watch your diet too – eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and cut down on fats. Try to get regular exercise because it helps send oxygen through your body to regenerate the cells. If the condition persists, see your doctor or consult a trichologist. Don’t worry unduly about it: worrying only makes the condition worse. After all, we all come across it at some point in our lives.