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Scaly or Flaky Scalp

Written by
Dr. Suvash Sahu
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.

Published on Dec 15, 2016 and last reviewed on Jul 08, 2019   -  2 min read


Dry, itchy, or flaky scalp can be a sign of dandruff or fungal infection. Dandruff is also the leading cause of hair fall. Learn about ways to get rid of it.

Scaly or Flaky Scalp

Scaly scalp or flaky scalp is raised, tiny flakes of skin in the scalp. The common causes of scaly scalp are cradle cap, dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis.

Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is also known as infantile pityriasis or Infantile seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is common within the first 2 to 3 months of life.




Scaling due to dandruff (Pityriasis capitis) in the scalp is the most common at about 20 years of age.



Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff may be considered as the same condition, but it differs in the disease severity spectrum.

Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by,


Psoriasis of scalp is common.

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For further knowledge regarding scaly scalp consult a dermatologist online -->


Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Scaly Skin?

Scaly skin is a rough, raised patch of skin that, on close examination, seems to be broken up into a group of flat, raised bits of skin, as exposed to flakes that are thin and fine. In some cases, scaly skin resembles the scales on a fish, though not in such a smooth or symmetrical pattern.


How to Prevent Flaking In My Scalp?

To prevent flaking of the scalp:
Eat a healthy diet like foods that contain plenty of the following foods like fish oils that contain omega-3 fatty acids, which is good for healthy skin and hair. Regular intake of oily fish or fish oil supplements may help relieve the symptoms of a flaky scalp.


What Makes the Scalp to Be Flaky?

The scalp can become flaky due to dryness and lack of moisture or can be due to:
- Psoriasis.
- Seborrheic dermatitis.
- Due to lack of shampooing.
- Yeast called malassezia.
- Contact dermatitis caused by personal care products.


Is It Normal to Have A Flaky Scalp?

It is not normal to have a flaky, itchy, and scaly scalp because they are the main signs of dandruff. White, oily flakes usually accumulate in the hair and shoulders that often worsen in the winter and fall months, when the air is dry.


How to Get Rid Of Scalp Build-Up?

To get rid of scalp build-up:
- Find the right shampoo and conditioner suitable for your hair type.
- Regular and thorough washing.
- Apple cider vinegar.
- Keep hair detangled.
- Lemongrass oil.
- Exfoliate the scalp.


How Do I Know That It Is Dandruff or a Dry Scalp?

To identify whether you have dry scalp or dandruff, apply a light moisturizer to your scalp before going to bed. If the cause is dry scalp, the flakes should disappear once you shower the following day. But if it does not go, it is due to dandruff.


How to Remove Flakes From My Hair?

To remove flakes from your hair:
- Detangle your hair with your finger with a product of good slip.
- Detangle hair in the shower by allowing water to run through your hair while detangling and adding pressure to push or wash out any flakes attached to your hair.
- Detangle your hair either with your fingers or a wide-tooth comb when the hair is dry, known as dry detangle.


What Is the Best Way to Treat Dry Flaky Scalp?

Baking soda, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties, and olive oil with a moisturizing effect can exfoliate the scalp. The combination of baking soda and olive oil is a good choice for dandruff alongside dry scalp. The moisture, exfoliation, and antifungal properties combined can manage the itchy white flakes.


How to Get Rid Of Dandruff Flakes Completely?

To get rid of dandruff flakes completely:
- Do not oil hair and keep it on for long.
- Vinegar.
- Baking Soda.
- Neem.
- Tea Tree Oil.
- Garlic.
- Aloe Vera.


How Can I Remove Dead Skin From My Scalp?

To remove dead skin from your scalp:
- Massage your scalp with coconut oil after a bath in a circular motion for the oil to get easily absorbed in the scalp.
- Lemon juice with exfoliant quality helps to remove dead scalp skin.
- Use a clarifying shampoo to wash your hair once a week, which will help to loosen the accumulated dead skin cells.
- Eat foods that are rich in vitamins B and C as well as those that contain zinc.


What Can Kill Fungus on the Scalp?

To kill fungus on the scalp, you can use:
- Azadirachta Indica leaves to fight against skin irritations, fungus, itching, or excessive oil.
- Apple cider vinegar is a classic treatment for scalp fungus.
- Fenugreek seeds, an herb, to get rid of fungi.
- The Emu Oil helps to stop any scalp sensitivity while fighting the fungus on a microbial level.
- Antifungal shampoos.
- Nizoral shampoo that contains Ketoconazole (antifungal).


How To Get Relieved From the Dry Scalp in Winter?

To get relieved from the dry scalp in the winter, you can:
- Massage your scalp.
- Apply DIY hair masks for deep conditioning.
- Rinse your scalp, which is dry, with apple cider vinegar.
- Avoid heat styling tools and hot showers.
- Use mild hair care products.
Cover the scalp to protect it from sun rays and stress from cold winds.


How to Treat Dry Flaky Scalp in My Baby?

The dry scalp in babies usually clears up within a few months. But, if you dislike the patches on your baby’s scalp, you can try some remedies. Wash the baby’s scalp with mild baby shampoo, recommended by the pediatrician. After washing, run your fingers on the baby’s scalp to loosen the scales gently with the comb.

Last reviewed at:
08 Jul 2019  -  2 min read




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