Why is My Scalp Peeling Off in Chunks (Large Flakes)?

Large flakes falling off your scalp could be very embarrassing. You may assume that you have dandruff, but that’s not always the case. Skin issues like seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and sunburn can cause the scalp to peel off in chunks.

Many different skin conditions affect the scalp. Yes, dandruff is a common problem. But dandruff flakes are different from the chunks of skin that come away due to other types of skin conditions. A heavily peeling scalp can also be linked to a condition that’s more serious.

Some skin ailments are more easily treatable than others. In short, you need a way to reduce your desire to scratch. It’s when you scratch at your scalp that most flaking most often occurs. But, the scratching could also put you at risk of getting an infection.

Table of Contents:

Why Are Large Flakes Coming from My Scalp?

This guide will focus on the different causes of a peeling, flaking scalp. Skin conditions that cause flaking are common. But, they usually need to be treated differently. If you’re experiencing large flakes on the scalp, you could have a condition you’re not even aware of. So, knowing the other symptoms is necessary.

It’s also important to know if you do, in fact, have dandruff, and what you can do to help get rid of it. We’ll cover symptoms of these conditions, as well as possible causes and treatments. You don’t have to live with chunks of dead skin falling from your scalp. Most conditions are quite manageable.


Most people think dandruff and dry scalp are the same things, but this isn’t true. Dandruff usually occurs because of the opposite problem: too much oil/buildup on the scalp.

The difference between dandruff and dry scalp is clear when you look at the flakes coming from your head. Dry scalp will usually cause small, white flakes to occur. Dandruff flakes may be larger and have a yellowish tint to them.

There are a few culprits that can lead to dandruff on your scalp. Some of the most common include the following:

  • Not washing your hair enough. This allows dead skin cells to build up on the scalp and create thick dandruff patches.
  • Yeast that irritates the scalp. It causes excessive cell production. The yeast can build up on the scalp and create the sensation to scratch.
  • Certain hair products. You can get contact dermatitis from hair products, or use products that clog the pores and create a buildup on the scalp. This can cause thick peeling to occur when you itch your head.
  • Skin that is irritated and oily. This is also known as seborrheic dermatitis, which is a more severe form of dandruff.

Because dandruff is so common, the easiest way to treat it is with an anti-dandruff shampoo. There are many different kinds on the market, from Head and Shoulders with antifungal ingredients, to Neutrogena T/Gel. The Neutrogena shampoo contains coal tar. Before you choose the right shampoo or other treatment option, it’s best to determine what might be causing your dandruff in the first place.

Dry Scalp

Dry scalp can cause flaking of your skin. Usually, though, these flakes will be small and white. Large chunks of skin rarely are caused by a dry scalp alone. It’s common to confuse this condition with dandruff, but one look at the type of flakes you’re experiencing can usually give you a good idea of what you’re dealing with.

You can also tell if you have dry scalp or dandruff by looking at possible causes. A dry scalp can be caused by things like dry hair, hair products that dry out your skin, or even older age.

Another way to tell if you have dry scalp rather than dandruff is to look at other areas of your skin. Unless the dryness is caused by hair products, it’s likely that other parts of your skin will also show signs of dryness.

Unlike dandruff, a dry scalp won’t feel oily. But, it can still be extremely itchy and cause smaller flakes to come off your scalp.

Read how you can solve your dry scalp problems if nothing else works.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff go hand in hand. They are often linked together and talked about interchangeably. But, seborrheic dermatitis only refers to a more severe form of dandruff.

It is a skin condition that can cause red, scaly patches on the scalp. It occurs when your scalp produces too much natural oil. When this happens, your hair follicles become clogged, and thick patches form.

Because these scaly patches are naturally oily, scratching at them will cause them to flake off in large chunks. Unfortunately, scratching at the patches of skin can cause them to bleed, which may lead to infection.

There is no one answer about how long seborrheic dermatitis will last. It occurs due to specific flare-ups that may affect everyone differently.

Some common triggers include:

  • Cold weather
  • Weakened immune system
  • Dry weather
  • Stress

It’s a scalp condition that will never entirely ‘go away.’ But, with treatment, it can be properly managed, and you don’t have to deal with it constantly. For mild cases, you may find that regular treatment allows it to go away in just a few months. More severe cases may take longer.

Seborrheic dermatitis is most often treated with a medicated shampoo containing coal tar or ketoconazole. Introducing one of these shampoos is the easiest way to address the problem without having to change your routine.

Home remedies are also popular for treating this condition. One of the most common home remedies is apple cider vinegar. It helps to balance out the pH levels of your scalp and will reduce oil production.

The worst part about seborrheic dermatitis is the itching and inflammation. Too much of it will cause large flakes to fall from your scalp. Finding relief from the itching can help the condition to heal faster, and will create fewer problems for you while you’re dealing with it.

Puriya Cream can be used to treat eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and rashes. It also helps with getting relief from the itching. You can see itchy bumps disappear after only a few days of using this cream.

Can Seborrheic Dermatitis be Prevented?

Seborrheic dermatitis cannot be cured but there are things you can do to lower your risk of experiencing it. Most of these preventative measures are simple lifestyle changes you can do on a daily basis.

Some of the prevention methods include:

  • Always make sure your scalp and hair are clean
  • Rinse away hair products like shampoo and conditioner completely
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid wearing hats, or wear caps made of breathable material

These changes may not prevent the condition altogether. But, it’s less likely that you’ll put yourself at risk for it if you follow them.

Large flakes keep falling off my scalp

Scalp Psoriasis

Another common skin condition of the scalp is psoriasis. You can experience psoriasis anywhere on your body, but it can be especially harsh on the scalp because itching it can lead to hair loss or damage.

Psoriasis is one of the most common skin conditions people can have. You should be able to recognize the symptoms of scalp psoriasis quickly so that you can start a management plan.

Unfortunately, psoriasis isn’t curable. While you can’t catch it from other people or give it to anyone else, you can experience flare-ups, and probably will throughout your life once you have it.

Like many other skin conditions, researchers aren’t entirely sure what causes it. One strong belief is that it has something to do with the immune system. Whatever the cause, though, certain triggers seem to affect when people experience a flare-up of the condition.

Some of these triggers include:

  • Certain medications
  • Allergies
  • High levels of stress
  • Diet
  • Injury

Scalp psoriasis is one of the more common skin conditions, but it can be easy to get it confused with other conditions like eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. It does have some similar characteristics. But, the symptoms you should look out for if you’re concerned, you may have this condition are:

  • Red patches of scaly skin
  • Red bumps
  • Itching and flaking
  • Burning sensation on the scalp

Again, no treatment will get rid of the condition entirely. Most treatment options are designed to reduce inflammation and get rid of pain so you can live with psoriasis. Medicated shampoos are often the best solution for managing psoriasis. You can also try topical creams specifically designed for this type of condition, like Era Organics Eczema and Psoriasis Cream or Puriya Cream.

Finding the right treatment can be a bit of a trial and error process. It’s important to choose a topical agent that won’t further irritate your skin. Choosing an all-natural solution is usually a safer option, as the ingredients tend to be milder.

Like many other skin conditions, some people look for home remedies to manage the pain and irritation. For psoriasis, one popular method is to use a topical agent that contains aloe vera. Aloe vera is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. It will provide a cool, soothing sensation to your scalp. It also contains antioxidants that can help to heal your skin faster.

Can Psoriasis Be Prevented?

There is no way to prevent psoriasis from occurring on the scalp completely. But, there are a few things you can do to lower your risk and make flare-ups less severe.

Use these helpful tips to keep yourself safer from potential flare-ups:

  • Lower your stress levels
  • Eat a healthy diet and try to keep your immune system strong
  • Exercise
  • Keep your skin moisturized
  • Limit intake of alcohol


Ringworm gets a somewhat scary reputation because of its name. It is caused by a fungal infection. Also known as tinea capitis, this type of fungal infection can create thick, scaly patches on the scalp. These patches usually have a circular mark in the center, which is where the condition gets its name.

Unlike many other skin conditions, ringworm is highly contagious. That’s why it’s often common for children. But, anyone can get it. You can even catch it from animals.

Aside from itchy patches of skin on the scalp, other symptoms of this condition include:

  • Painful scalp
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Crusty sores

If your ringworm does form crusty patches on the scalp, they can burst open and start to ooze. Unfortunately, that can cause the fungal infection to spread. So, it’s important to treat ringworm as aggressively as possible.

The fungus spreads quickly, even to other areas of your body. Treating it properly can help to reduce these symptoms and stop your urge to itch. The less scratching you do at your scalp, the less likely it is for large chunks of skin to fall off.

The best treatment options for ringworm are antifungal medications. It’s likely you’ll need to take an oral antifungal medication prescribed by a doctor. You can use an antifungal shampoo or topical agent along with the oral prescription.

The good news about ringworm is that it isn’t a chronic condition like many others. If you get it once, it doesn’t mean you’ll get it again repeatedly throughout your life.

It’s not safe to completely say ringworm is preventable since it’s such a contagious condition. But, you can lower your risk of getting it by avoiding sharing hair tools or towels with anyone. You should also steer clear of touching anyone who currently has the condition – including pets.

Why are flakes falling from my scalp?


Can your scalp get sunburned and peel with flakes? One of the most common reasons for peeling skin that people face time and again is a harsh sunburn. We may rarely think about getting a sunburn on the scalp, but it can occur quite often. The scalp may, unfortunately, go without sunscreen when you’re applying it elsewhere on your body, which can make it easily at risk for a sunburn.

It doesn’t matter if you have a full head of hair or not, the scalp is always at risk of sunburn, just like anywhere else on your body. If you haven’t protected it and it does burn, it can be painful, cause itching and irritation, and areas of skin can start to peel away.

If you come home from a day in the sun and notice that your scalp seems red and feels tender to the touch, you should try to treat it right away. A sunburn will eventually go away on its own. But before it does, it can cause your skin to peel, and cause a strong itching sensation.

How do you treat a sunburned scalp?

One of the best ways to treat a sunburn on the scalp is to use a hair product or shampoo that contains aloe vera, such as SunBurnt Advanced Sun Recovery After-Sun Gel. This will help to repair your skin and provide cooling relief right away. You can apply aloe vera before bed at night, and rinse with lukewarm water in the morning.

One thing to avoid if you have a sunburn on your scalp is using shampoos or hair products that contain harsh chemicals or alcohol. Alcohol will make the flaking of your skin much worse. It can also cause more irritation and pain. If you frequently use hairspray, you should avoid it when you have a sunburn, since most styling sprays contain high amounts of alcohol.

It may seem silly to apply sunscreen to your scalp, especially if you have hair. But, any exposed areas of the scalp should be protected with either a sunscreen (SPF 30+), a hat or a cover of some kind.

If you do get a sunburn on your scalp and it begins to blister severely, or the burn gets worse instead of better with time, consult with a dermatologist.

Treating a scalp that peels off with large chunks of skin all depends on what’s causing the problem. As you can see, many different factors can contribute to an itchy, flaking scalp. Some conditions are easily treatable. Others only take simple lifestyle changes.

Whether your peeling scalp is caused by a health condition or external factors, it’s a good idea to treat it right away. The pain caused by many of these problems can become severe when they aren’t treated. Most of the conditions also won’t go away on their own.

We hope this guide has made it easier for you to identify any possible scalp condition you might be facing that causes your skin to peel. Flaking skin from the scalp can be as irritating as it is embarrassing. The sooner you recognize the symptoms of your scalp condition, the sooner you can find a management option that works.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.