What’s the difference between psoriasis and dandruff? These conditions are often confused for each other because of their similar symptoms, which include flaky, skin build-up. But at their core, they’re very different. Here’s what you should know.
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Psoriasis is an inflammatory, chronic condition that affects several systems in the body, like the musculoskeletal system, the immune system, and the skin. Psoriasis can happen when the skin cell’s life cycle speeds up and causes a sudden buildup of dead and rough skin cells. It often causes itchy and thick patches on the body, including the scalp.
Psoriasis is not that uncommon. Around 125 million people around the world have psoriasis.
On the other hand, dandruff is a chronic, but mild, scalp condition. It causes the scalp to flake and itch. Compared to psoriasis, dandruff is rather mild and is not contagious.
A distinct difference between psoriasis and dandruff is that psoriasis tends to look more scaly and the scalp can crack. On the other hand, dandruff tends to be flaky.
There are different kinds of psoriasis, but one kind, in particular, can make your scalp itch. Scalp psoriasis has some key symptoms, which include:
Like dandruff, you could have one or several causes for psoriasis. The causes of psoriasis are unknown, but most doctors and researchers agree that it occurs because of immune system malfunctions, which cause the skin cells to rapidly grow.
Certain triggers are believed to psoriasis, such as:
While the cause for psoriasis is uncertain, dandruff may be caused by several reasons:
The main difference between psoriasis and dandruff when it comes to causes is that while psoriasis is an auto-immune disease, dandruff is affected by certain skin factors.
Typically, a doctor can diagnose dandruff just by looking at the scalp and hair. For psoriasis, your doctor may look additionally at your nails, skin, and scalp. The doctor may also examine a small skin sample to see what kind of psoriasis you may have and other conditions.
The goal of psoriasis treatments is to keep skin cells from rapidly growing, along with removing scales. The exact treatment will depend on the kind of psoriasis you have and its severity.
Some common treatments a doctor may recommend include:
Some doctors may also suggest extra home remedies that their patients can do along with the given treatment to relieve mild symptoms, such as:
Most people with mild dandruff may only need to wash their hair daily. Ideally, they should use a gentle shampoo that will decrease skin cell and oil buildup.
Some people may need to get medicated dandruff shampoo if a gentle shampoo does not work. It may take some experimentation to find the right medicated shampoo for you.
It is worth noting that you should stop using any hair care product immediately if you experience stinging, itching, burning, or redness. You may also need immediate medical attention if you get an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing, hives, rashes, etc.).
Psoriasis and dandruff have similar symptoms like an itchy, flaky scalp. However, it is important to remember that while psoriasis is an auto-immune disease that may become life threatening, dandruff is a milder condition that can be treated with medicated shampoos and proper hair cleansing.
Learn more about Psoriasis here.
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Slide show: Types of psoriasis, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/multimedia/psoriasis-pictures/sls-20076486, Accessed December 15, 2020
Get the facts about psoriasis and psoriasis arthritis, https://www.psoriasis.org/psoriasis-statistics/, Accessed December 15, 2020
Dandruff – Symptoms and causes, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dandruff/symptoms-causes/syc-20353850#:~:text=Dandruff%20is%20a%20common%20condition,with%20a%20gentle%20daily%20shampoo., Accessed December 15, 2020
Scalp eczema: Symptoms, treatment, and remedies, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320791#:~:text=The%20shedding%20of%20white%20skin,most%20often%20affects%20the%20scalp., Accessed December 15, 2020
Psoriasis – Diagnosis and Treatment, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20355845 , Accessed December 15, 2020