Scalp psoriasis vs dandruff: what is the difference?

Scalp psoriasis and dandruff are both skin conditions that can cause your scalp to itch and cause you white flakes, have you ever wondered, is this just dandruff or maybe scalp psoriasis? and how can I tell the difference!

Well, dandruff is very common and usually caused by dry skin while scalp psoriasis is a more serious, long-term condition that shouldn’t be left untreated.

The good news is that there are treatments available for both scalp psoriasis and scalp dandruff. Read on to learn about them!

what is dandruff?

Dandruff is a common condition where white scales appear on the scalp. it often occurs in people who have oily hair or scalp and usually clears up after shampooing with a mild shampoo once a week. If it doesn’t clear up within 2-3 weeks, then you may need to use an anti-dandruff shampoo.

causes of dandruff :

An overgrowth of a fungus called Malassezia: this fungus feeds off dead skin cells which leads to flaking and can cause dandruff.

 Dry skin: People who use too many chemicals or shampoo often get dandruff. Some people have sensitive skin, and this makes them more likely to develop dandruff.

 Oily hair: Oily hair means that there’s excess oil on the scalp. This leads to flaking because the oils make the surface of the scalp very dry.

Hormonal changes: Women going through menopause tend to have more dandruff than usual. The hormones change the way the body works, which affects the scalp.

Medications: Certain medications like birth control pills, antidepressants, and some blood pressure medicines can also lead to dandruff.

Alcohol: Drinking alcohol can affect your skin and hair. It can also make your scalp drier.

Stress: When you’re stressed out, your body produces extra cortisol, which can cause your scalp to become dry and lead to dandruff.

symptoms people with dandruff usually experience :

Dandruff causes tiny white flakes to fall off your scalp. These flakes look similar to dead skin cells but they’re actually just loose hairs attached to your scalp. They don’t come from your head.

Itching: you’ll get an itchy scalp when your scalp gets irritated by the build-up of dead skin cells. Dandruff can be really irritating if you scratch it.

Dryness: You’ll notice that your scalp feels dry when you have dandruff. This is because your scalp has lost its natural oils.

Unpleasant smell: Your scalp will produce a foul smell when you have dandruff. This is because the dead skin cells are rotting.

how can you prevent it?

when it comes to dandruff, there is no cure for it but we can get rid of or control itchy and flaky scalp. Brushing hair and using a dandy shampoo are the first two treatments you should try.

avoid washing your hair every day. Washing your hair every day removes all of the natural oils from your scalp. Over time, this can leave your scalp feeling dry and flaky.

Avoid using harsh soaps. Regular soap is fine. But if you have dandruff, you shouldn’t use anything that’s too abrasive to avoid a dry scalp.

Use a moisturizing shampoo. Moisturizing shampoos contain ingredients such as glycerin and lactic acid. These ingredients help protect your hair against damage caused by excessive heat and humidity.

Use a conditioner. Conditioners help restores moisture to your hair. They also add shine like coconut oil.

Wear hats. Hats keep your hair protected from sun exposure.

Don’t wear perfume. Perfumes can leave a sticky residue on your hair and scalp. This residue attracts dust particles and bacteria.

Keep your home clean. Cleaning up after yourself will help reduce the amount of dust and dirt in your house.

Keep your pets away from your scalp. Pets often lick their fur and then transfer this saliva onto your scalp. This can cause dandruff. Try keeping your pet indoors during peak dandruff season.

If your condition doesn’t improve and you’re still scratching despite trying all these tips, you might need to see a dermatologist to get your medicated shampoo or topical medications that contain ingredients like salicylic acid.

Scalp psoriasis, what is it and how is it different from dandruff?

Scalp psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that affects the scalp. It looks very much like dandruff. However, it’s not the same thing. Scalp psoriasis is more serious than dandruff.

Dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis is a common problem caused by an overgrowth of bacteria on the surface of the skin. It affects the scalp, face, and body. Dandruff usually isn’t serious. You can’t catch it from anyone else or pass it on. It can be uncomfortable or embarrassing, though. Dandruff can be treated at home without a prescription.

on the other hand,  Psoriasis is a chronic disease caused by your immune system, it affects the skin and usually starts when you’re young and lasts throughout life. Your scalp is most commonly affected, but it can also occur in any part of your body. Scales on your scalp can break away and fall off, leaving behind dry, rough areas. The scales tend to appear as flat, silvery scales. The scabs that form under them often leave red marks. In severe cases, the skin thickens and forms raised, inflamed bumps called plaques.

What causes scalp psoriasis?

There are several factors that may contribute to causing scalp psoriasis. The most common factor is stress. If you’re under a lot of stress, your body releases chemicals called corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are hormones that regulate many functions in our bodies. When these hormones are released, they can trigger scalp psoriasis.

Other factors include:

Exposure to sunlight. Sunlight can make your scalp itch, which leads to itching.

A weakened immune system. People with weak immune systems are at greater risk of developing psoriasis.

Certain medical conditions. Some people who suffer from certain medical conditions develop scalp psoriasis. For example, some people with diabetes develop scalp psoriasis due to high blood sugar levels.

Some medications. Many prescription drugs can lead to scalp psoriasis. Examples include steroids, birth control pills, and anti-seizure medication.

How do I know if my scalp is affected?

The symptoms of scalp psoriasis vary depending on where the skin is affected. Symptoms usually start out mild and gradually worsen over time.

Mildly affected people show only slight, fine scaling, while moderately to severely affected people show more serious signs such as red, bumpy patches, silvery-white scales, dandruff-like flakiness, dry scalp, itching, burning or soreness, and hair loss.You should go to the doctor if you have any of these problems.

in general, the common psoriasis symptoms include:

  • salp Itching and skin irritation
  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Thickening of the skin
  • Blisters
  • Scabs
  • Hair loss

psoriasis plaques

How long does it take for scalp psoriasis to go away?

Most cases of scalp psoriasis clear within two weeks. However, some cases last longer. In rare cases, scalp psoriasis can be permanent.

Scalp psoriasis treatment :

Treatments for scalp psoriasis depend on how severe the condition is. There are three types of treatment options: topical, oral, and light therapy.

the treatment plan should be established by your doctor.

Topical treatments:

These treatments are applied directly to the affected area. They work by reducing inflammation and itching. Corticosteroids help treat mild to moderate psoriasis. They are available as ointment, cream, lotion, gel, foam, spray, and shampoo. People with mild to moderate psoriasis should apply them twice daily for 2 weeks, then once every other day for another 2 weeks, then once weekly until symptoms disappear. Topical steroids may be used for up to 8 weeks, but if you continue using them longer than this, side effects become more likely. Corticosteroids help treat mild to moderate psoriasis. if you have more severe forms of psoriasis, your doctor may give you stronger topical steroids, such as triamcinolone acetonide (Tranxene, Triadafil) clobetasol propionate (Dermapen). Topical steroids should be avoided because they can lead to thinning of the skin. Vitamin D analogs help treat psoriasis by slowing down the growth of skin cells. Calcitriol slows down the growth of skin cancer cells. Retinoids work by stopping the growth of new skin cells, but they also make your skin thinner. Retinoids are used to treat acne. When using these drugs, avoid sunlight exposure. These drugs can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. Use these drugs during pregnancy and breastfeeding only when necessary. Tacrolimus reduces inflammation and plaque buildup. Protopic and Elidel can help prevent dryness, irritation, and itching caused by psoriasis. They are not recommended during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. These drugs could increase your chances of getting skin cancer and lymphomas. Salicylic acid shampoo and scalp solution helps to reduce the scaling of scalp psoriasis. It may be used along with other medications to help them penetrate the skin easier. It doesn’t cause irritation to the skin. It’s available over the counter or by prescription in various forms such as shampoo, cream, and oil. These products may irritate the skin. Also, they may leave behind stains on clothes and bedding. Goeckerman therapy is better than coal tar because it combines coal tar with light therapy. It is safe for pregnant women and children. It doesn’t cause staining or odors. It is less messy than other treatments. Anthralin is an anti-inflammatory medication used to treat psoriasis. It is often used as a topical treatment for acne. It can cause irritation and staining but is generally safe when used properly.


Oral medication and injected (systemic) drug therapies are often prescribed for moderate to severe psoriasis. The most common oral medications include methotrexate, cyclosporine, fumarates, and retinoids. Oral medications are effective for treating milder cases of psoriasis. However, some people develop liver problems after taking these drugs. Injected medications are very useful for treating severe cases of psoriasis that do not respond well to topical treatments. Examples of injected medications include etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira), infliximab (Remicade), ustekinumab (Stelara), alefacept (Amevive), and efalizumab (Raptiva). These injections are usually given as a series of shots over time.

Light Therapy AKA laser treatment :

This type of treatment uses ultraviolet (UV) rays to kill off the bacteria that causes scalp psoriasis. A UV lamp is placed close to the affected areas to deliver the right amount of energy. This treatment works well for mild to moderate cases.

If you decide to use one of these treatments, you’ll need to follow specific instructions. Your doctor will tell you what to expect during each step of the process.

tips to keep in mind:

– Try using a medicated shampoo.

– Use an over-the-counter medication if you have mild cases.

– If you have severe cases, see a dermatologist.

– You may need to use a prescription treatment.

– Be sure to get regular checkups from your doctor.

– Avoid direct sunlight.

– Don’t use any other topical treatments without first talking to your doctor.

– Talk to your doctor about using any other medicines.

– Get emergency medical care if you notice signs of infection.

– Keep all appointments so that your progress can be monitored.

– Follow your doctor’s recommendations for how long you should take each medication.

– Continue using the same medicine for at least 6 months before changing to another kind.

– Take the medicine exactly as directed. Do not change the dose or stop taking the medicine unless told to do so by your doctor.

– Do not share your medicine with anyone else.

– Some medicines can interact with others.

**Do not use any other topical treatments unless approved by your doctor.**

– Do NOT use any other topical treatments if you’re currently using a systemic treatment.

– If you’re taking corticosteroid creams or ointments, talk to your doctor before using other topical treatments.

– Do not use any other topical treatment if you’re currently using an injection.

– If you use a steroid cream, wait at least 24 hours before applying anything else.

– If you plan to use a salicylic acid product, wait at least 3 days before starting any other topical treatment.

– If your skin becomes red or irritated, stop using this treatment immediately and contact your doctor.

– Wash your hands thoroughly after handling the medicine or using the treatment device.

– If you accidentally touch something contaminated with the medicine, wash your hands immediately.

– If you accidentally spill the medicine on yourself, rinse it off with cool water.

– If you think you’ve been exposed to someone who has a contagious disease, such as chickenpox or measles, call your doctor right away.

– If you become pregnant while using this treatment, discuss with your doctor whether you should continue using it.

– If you breastfeed, ask your doctor whether you should use this treatment.

– If possible, avoid getting sunburned. Sunlight increases your risk of developing skin cancer.

– If you develop blisters or sores, stop using the treatment and contact your doctor. It could mean you have developed a fungal infection.

– If you experience side effects, stop using the treatment. Tell your doctor right away. This is very important.

– Report any new symptoms to your doctor.

Conclusion :

The information provided here is only intended to help you in understanding these common skin conditions; Scalp Psoriasis and dandruff. with a brief description of these two diseases and can they be dealt with. For more detailed information, do not hesitate to consult your physician.