Home General Dandruff and Psoriasis: 2 Very Different Conditions

Dandruff and Psoriasis: 2 Very Different Conditions

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If you’re having a problem with your scalp, you need to be able to identify exactly what it is. This is necessary as you start to take the path of recovery or management. Symptoms may be similar, so it can be tricky to figure out what’s going on.

Here’s how to differentiate between dandruff and psoriasis:


This is a condition of the scalp affecting almost half of the adult population globally. Dry skin breaks off from the scalp in white or yellow ‘flakes’ big enough to be seen by the next person. This condition is isolated to the scalp. It can’t be spread from one person to another.

While dandruff is a disease on its own, it also acts as a symptom of other conditions. After all, it could signal the presence of a fungal infection, eczema, or seborrheic dermatitis. One may use purifying shampoo to fight dandruff. However, if symptoms do persist; it’s advisable to seek medical attention.

The scalp will be itchy and sometimes oily and there’s going to be a bit of redness in certain areas. The more you scratch your scalp, the more likely you are to develop a skin infection. Cold and dry weather only serves to harden the skin further, worsening the breakout of flakes. In infants, crusty patches or oily ‘scales’ will appear on the scalp.

What causes dandruff?

There’s a mystery surrounding the cause of dandruff. It may be caused by an overly oily scalp, a certain type of fungus, or hormones. Environmental factors such as dry or cold climate, family history, and even shampooing too often can cause dandruff.

How do you treat dandruff?

When it comes to mild cases, it doesn’t get better than purifying shampoo to fight dandruff. That shampoo will have to be easy on the scalp, with no strong chemicals. If the dandruff is a little worse than mild, prescription shampoos with ingredients like tar or selenium sulfide are needed. And in the worst cases of dandruff, other topical medications are used.


Psoriasis is a more serious condition compared to dandruff. It’s incurable and is classified as a chronic inflammatory disease. Not only does psoriasis affect the scalp, but other parts of the body too. People will often mistake it for dandruff because of the fallout of dead skin flakes.

There are periods of high-intensity irritation and there are times when it isn’t so bad. A lot of the time, the scalp is affected, but there are just as many cases where other body parts suffer the same fate. Skin cells from pretty much anywhere in the body are attacked by the immune system. The result is that the rate of development increases, with excess cells falling out continuously.

It doesn’t just entail grey-white scales falling from the scalp. There may be hair loss, but it won’t be permanent. There’s a chance that a burning sensation will be felt and in some instances, there are small, red bumps that turn into scales. It all differs from person to person.

What causes psoriasis?

It isn’t clear what’s responsible for causing psoriasis. What we do know is that the immune system is involved. That’s because the white blood cells attack the skin cells, prompting the production of new skin cells. Genetics does often play a role and people with lighter complexions are the ones most affected.

How do you treat Psoriasis?

Medical shampoos are effective if it isn’t a bad case. You want to look for the ones containing corticosteroids to keep inflammation at bay. In more serious cases of psoriasis, treatments to help the immune system may help to reduce the intensity of its attack and they are necessary. You may also need to change your lifestyle, especially if you take tobacco, and alcohol or you’re often dealing with stress and extreme weather.

Robert Haynes did his degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. He is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.

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