This article was medically reviewed by Caroline Chang, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist and member of the Prevention Medical Review Board, on January 3, 2020.
If you’re dealing with a dry scalp, you know just how itchy and even embarrassing it can be. It’s also pretty common. “Dry scalp affects up to 15% of the population,” says Shari Lipner, M.D., Ph.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian.
A dry scalp means the surface layer of skin cells on your scalp is compromised, allowing moisture to escape. What can you do about it? We tapped top dermatologists to break down the possible causes behind your discomfort—and the remedies that will bring relief ASAP.
What causes a dry scalp, exactly?
“The most common reason for a dry scalp is seborrheic dermatitis, also known as dandruff,” says Dr. Lipner. But dry scalp and dandruff aren’t exactly the same thing. Dandruff may be caused by a variety of factors, including a yeastlike fungus, scalp irritation, and skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, which can lead to dryness and flaking in your eyebrows, face, or ear canals in addition to your scalp, she says.