What to Use for Dry Scalp when Nothing Else Works

Do you suffer from dry and flaky scalp? Or do you experience dandruff regularly? You may feel irritated or self-conscious about the condition of your scalp. The good news is that there many solutions for dry scalp when nothing else seems to be working for you.

A persistently dry and flaky scalp can affect many aspects of your day-to-day life. While most of the time there are no underlying health issues, there are a list of explanations (in this guide) that we encourage you to explore carefully.

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My Dry Scalp Won’t Go Away

It is essential to get to the bottom of why you are experiencing any issues with your scalp. This is especially true if it feels like you’ve already tried every solution that exists. We’ve identified ten ways to get rid of an extremely dry scalp that works!

There are many ways to eradicate a dry, flaky and itchy scalp that is getting you down. From effective shampoos to at home remedies, there’s something out there for everyone.

Are Dandruff and Dry Scalp Different?

It is important to note that dandruff and dry scalp are different.

Dandruff causes the scalp to flake and causes visible flakes on clothing or in the hair. In most cases, it is caused by fungal or a scalp infection.

Dry scalp, by contrast, occurs when the scalp does not produce or hold enough moisture.

It occurs when the scalp is insufficiently lubricated. This can be caused by many factors, but one of the most common is by being over-washed and not looked after correctly.

Understanding the difference can help when it comes to choosing the right treatment.

What Treatments and Products Will Help My Scalp?

If you are someone who has experienced scalp issues whether that’s itching, flakiness or dryness, you will have likely have tried all the standard over-the-counter (OTC) products.

Some of the most common remedies for a flake-free scalp include:

  • Anti-dandruff shampoos and conditioners
  • Clarifying shampoos
  • Stopping using hair products
  • Regular hair cleaning/washing.

While these are all perfectly acceptable options for getting relief from an itchy and flaky scalp, there are other options to explore that really do work!

Rinse Your Hair with Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people prefer to avoid hair products with chemicals in them (such as clarifying shampoo).

There are so many DIY and home remedies that you can make yourself to ensure you avoid harsh chemicals. After all, chemicals can affect your scalp even more.

An apple cider vinegar rinse can do wonders on the cleanliness of your hair and condition of your scalp. ACV can easily clean away the build-up of unwanted dirt on the scalp.

You should never use ACV straight from the bottle. Ensure that it is diluted first. Measure a four-to-one ratio of water to ACV.

Because it’s potent, if ACV is not diluted, it can do more damage than good for your scalp. Diluted ACV should be massaged into the scalp for 10 minutes before being rinsed out with warm water.

Rinse Your Hair with Diluted Lemon Juice

Much like the ACV approach, diluted lemon juice can also do a great job of clearing up the scalp of flakes and dirt. Due to similar PH values, lemon juice should always be diluted too.

The acidity levels in lemon juice can help to get rid of dandruff and other common scalp complaints. Diluted lemon juice gently cleanses your scalp as a shampoo would but doesn’t damage it in the way that many clarifying shampoos sometimes can.

Diluted lemon juice should be massaged into the scalp for 10 minutes before being rinsed out.

Exfoliate Your Scalp with Baking Soda

If your daily personal care routine includes the use of a lot of hair care products, you may notice that your hair can easily become weighed down and unkempt.

Baking soda gets the job done when it comes to cleaning your hair. Making and using a baking soda paste as a scalp exfoliator can clean your hair and roots with ease.

It is so easy to make a baking soda paste:

  1. Mix it with water, conditioner, and an essential oil for dry scalp, such as jojoba or peppermint.
  2. To apply, massage the mixture through wet and brushed (detangled) hair either during or after your shower.
  3. Always thoroughly condition your hair afterward for a silky smooth look and feel.

Doing this once a month can work wonders on your hair. In no time, you can clear up any traces of a dry and flaky scalp caused by pesky build up.

Keep Your Tresses Detangled

Gently brushing your hair can do so much for the health of your scalp. While it isn’t a quick fix to keeping your scalp in order in the long term, it can help with general upkeep.

Ensuring that your hair is frequently detangled – especially during and after a shower or bath – will really work wonders. The fewer knots there are in your hair, the less stress there will be on the scalp. Therefore, you’ll experience less flakiness and dryness in the long run. Also, your hair will always look shiny and sleek.

There are some tremendous detangling brushes out there which help to massage out any knots. If your hair tangles easily, consider investing in one.

Pyrithione Zinc

This is an excellent antifungal remedy that kills the unwanted fungus on your scalp that causes common flaking. If you have an extremely flaky scalp, you’re in luck as pyrithione zinc shampoos are gentle enough to use every day.

Selenium Sulfide

Reducing fungus and preventing skin cells from dying off easily, selenium sulfide is a winner. However, due to the strong chemicals, it has been known to change the hair color.

This anti-fungal remedy is usually only prescribed, so you may have to make an appointment with your doctor to get your hands on it.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid can be found in many shampoo products. The most common type is Neutrogena T/Sal. This acid removes extra scale from your scalp before it has the chance to flake.

For some people, however, salicylic acid can dry out the skin and cause more flaking. Therefore, be careful when using it and keep a note of any drastic changes.

A Step-by-Step Approach to a Dry Scalp

If you suffer from a medical condition, dandruff or other drying scalp problems, you’ll want to know how to care for your scalp correctly.

There is a process when it comes to dealing with a dry and flaky scalp.

Use the following steps to eradicate a dry scalp for good:

  • Moisturizing products.
  • Topical spot cream.

Pre-Wash Treatments for Your Scalp

You can work wonders on a dry scalp if you relax and prepare it for washing. The key to resolving issues is all in the preparation.

Start off by gently massaging your scalp with a soft bristled brush. This will remove the build-up of oil, hair products, and excess skin cells.

You may experience loose flakes of skin as you exfoliate your dry scalp. Gently massaging your scalp with a brush is great to lift away dirt and distribute the natural oil that is on your scalp.

A homemade hot oil treatment for your scalp will help to moisturize your scalp deeply. Additionally, it will also lock in that all important natural moisture.

Coconut oil is excellent for most things and is great as a conditioner for your hair and scalp.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Rub coconut oil directly onto a dry scalp and through your hair.
  2. Put a shower cap and leave for up to 45 minutes for deep miniaturization.
  3. Add a spoonful of honey in with the coconut oil. Honey is full of natural goodness and is a great remedy for a dry scalp.

Use a Proper Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

If you suffer from dandruff, it can take some time to experiment with different products and establish which anti-dandruff shampoo works best for you. One of the ones we like is Nizoral AD shampoo.

There are so many professional detoxing and great quality moisturizing shampoos on the market that have been clinically designed to target dandruff.

While a good anti-dandruff shampoo may do the trick, it is vital to get to the root of the issue.

Use Scalp-Moisturizing Shampoos

Pantene’s Pro V’s Damage Detox Shampoo is an excellent option to cleanse your scalp properly.

Mix up your routine a little and use moisturizing shampoos to keep the scalp hydrated. Natural shampoos and those that are filled with essential oils are excellent.

Medicated shampoos should only be used as a last resort, and it definitely shouldn’t be used for every wash. It can be abrasive to your already sensitive scalp.

Topical Spot Treatments

There are so many nourishing topical spot treatments available.

All that you need to do is apply it to your hairline when you feel a flare-up coming on. Burts Bees products or even Vaseline can trap in moisture and keep your scalp flake-free. But, it can be difficult to remove Vaseline from your hair, so be warned.

Natural Remedies

There are so many natural remedies for your scalp. Your scalp is a sensitive part of your body, so you need to treat it with products that are kind to your skin.

So, what are some of the more effective natural remedies for my dry and flaky scalp?

  • Apothecary tea tree oil
  • Regularly washing and conditioning your hair
  • Avoiding inflammatory foods
  • Avoiding the use of chemicals.

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil (melaleuca) is a natural essential oil that’s used to treat many different dermatological conditions.

Commonly used for spots, tea tree oil can also work wonders on your dry and flaky scalp. It is jam-packed full of antioxidants and antimicrobials which means it has excellent healing powers.

This impactful little oil can fight nasty bacteria, viruses, and fungus, making it great for the skin. When used instead of medicated anti-dandruff shampoo, tea tree oil can have some wonderful effects. And it is all natural!

Avoid Inflammatory Foods

As the adage goes, “you are what you eat”. Whatever you put in your body can be completely reflected in your skin. While it may not be something that you have given much thought before, fungus on the scalp can be caused by certain foods – some more so than others.

It can be easy to avoid skin and scalp problems by avoiding inflammatory foods. Inflammatory foods are most commonly made up of processed consumables.

This includes most food with sugar, gluten, dairy, soy, peanuts, and alcohol. These are only a few of the foods you should avoid if you suffer from skin and/or scalp issues.

How to stop my scalp from being overly dry

Antifungal foods can make you feel great. If you have a dry and flaky scalp, eat more garlic, apple cider vinegar, banana, avocado, flaxseed, ginger and coconut oil.

As long as you have a healthy and balanced diet and no underlying health issues, a healthy diet can help you avoid some very common skin and scalp issues.

Keep a Note of Break Outs

Is your scalp breaking out regularly? Does it happen once, twice or even three times a month? A flaky and/or dry scalp can come out of nowhere at any time. But if you notice a level of regularity with your breakouts, there could be an underlying reason.

Due to heat at night, your scalp may be a lot itchier than during the day. Before your head hits the pillow, take a shower or bath and wash and detangle your hair. This can be very soothing.

If your scalp breaks out after using a particular product, be sure to avoid it in the future. If you want to find out what’s causing the itch (as long it’s not medical), strip back all the products that you use. If you use only natural and basic products, you’ll be able to establish the trigger.

Consider if the breakouts are caused by the following.

  • A laundry detergent or soap suds
  • Chemicals from shampoo, conditioner or shower gel
  • Fabric from clothing or hats
  • Inflammatory food or drink products
  • Hair extensions, wigs or jewelry (if you wear any of those)
  • Deodorant or perfume.

If you think that any of the above is causing your dry scalp issues, take preventative measures to put a stop to the breakouts.

What Causes a Dry and Flaky Scalp?

There are so many reasons as to why your scalp may be dry and flaky.

These include:

  • Dandruff
  • General hygiene
  • Dry, cold air
  • A poor diet
  • Old age
  • Medical conditions


Dandruff makes your head itchy, flaky, and dry.

You may find that there are particular areas of your scalp that are affected more than others. While dandruff isn’t a dangerous condition, it can become painful when not treated properly.

The most common cause is an oil build up on the scalp which causes the skin cells on the scalp to clump together. This results in the common white dandruff flakes.

General Hygiene

If you do not keep on top of your personal hygiene and wash regularly, chances are, your scalp will begin to suffer the effects. Because of the build-up of environmental dirt, oils and beauty products, a dry and flaky scalp or even the medical condition of dandruff can occur.

Poor hygiene can result in short-term scalp problems. If you do not think that you are cleaning your hair enough, consider creating a schedule.

can't get rid of dandruff tried everything?

Dry, Cold Air

The cold weather can really affect the health of your skin. Whether it is the winter or there is a chill in the air, your scalp may feel the effects.

Everyone experiences mild-to-moderate dry scalp at some point, but it can become a chronic problem in the colder weather. Winter weather zaps the moisture out of your hair and scalp.

To prevent this from happening more frequently, there are some things you can do:

  • Moisturize your hair
  • Drink more water to stay hydrated
  • Consider wearing a hat to lock in moisture.

A Poor Diet

Fatty acids in your diet such as flaxseeds, walnuts, and salmon, along with reducing coffee and alcohol intake, can help alleviate dryness all over your body.

The seaweed, kelp, is an excellent source of essential minerals and is high in iodine. This is known to support hair growth and scalp healing. To be safe, conduct research or speak to a dietitian.

Old Age

As you grow older, your body can experience some harsh changes. One of the most common complaints from the older generation is that the scalp is becoming dry and flaky.

While there is little that can be done, it is recommended that you speak to a medical professional. This will establish if there is a preferred haircare product or a medical explanation.

Medical Conditions

Malassezia globose

The real cause of dandruff is a yeast (fungus) called Malassezia globose. This fungus lives on your scalp, feeding on old skin and the build-up of oils.

The reason skin sheds and flakes with this fungal infection are because the fungus uses enzymes called lipases to metabolize the oils. This creates a by-product called oleic acid which penetrates your skin and triggers dryness.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis can go away without treatment, but it usually requires intervention.

If your dermatitis flares up quite frequently, you may need many repeated treatments before the symptoms go away. Daily cleansing with a gentle shampoo can help reduce oiliness and the build-up of dead skin.

When this occurs in infants, the condition is known as cradle cap and causes crusty, scaly patches on the scalp. This can be painful for the baby and could benefit from medical intervention.

Scalp Psoriasis

A common skin disorder that leads to raised, reddish, often scaly patches, Scalp psoriasis can occur as a single patch or affect your entire scalp.

It can also spread to your forehead, the back of your neck, or behind and inside your ears. You can’t catch scalp psoriasis from another person. However, it is not known what causes it.

When Should I see My Doctor?

You should consider visiting your doctor in the following circumstances:

  • Very sore and red
  • Dryer and flakier
  • Constantly breaking out in dandruff
  • Scabbed, spotty or bleeds
  • You are so uncomfortable that you are losing sleep
  • Your scalp condition is causing embarrassment and anxiety
  • You suspect that your skin is infected

Always remember that there is no reason to be embarrassed about having a dry scalp. Use the treatments that we’ve recommended (above) to clear up the condition. If the state of your scalp does not seem to be improving, you should seek professional advice from a doctor.

Copyright 2018 by DryScalpGone.