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  5. Dandruff vs Dry Scalp: Differences + Ayurvedic Treatments

Picture this. You have an important client meeting. Armed with your brilliant smile, well-researched presentation, and confident self, you march forward. A quick glance in the mirror, and you come undone. White flakes on your shoulders, and an itchy and dry scalp leave you fumbling for a quick cover!

Rest your worries. Remember that you are not alone. Ancient Ayurveda offers a wide range of natural remedies and healing therapies accompanied with holistic lifestyle regimes to effectively manage your dandruff and dry scalp condition.

Let’s understand how you can safely manage and treat dandruff and dry scalp with the healing power of Ayurveda.

What Causes Dandruff As Per Ayurveda?

In the Ayurvedic system, Dandruff (or Darunak) is classified as a Shudra Roga. This occurs when there is an imbalance in the three doshas, namely, Kapha, Pitta and Vata.

The doshas primarily responsible for dandruff are Vata, rough and dry in nature, and Kapha, an oily substance. In severe cases, both these doshas cause accumulation of impurities in the deep tissues, leading to itchiness and dryness of the scalp.

The accumulation of impurities in the deep tissues is known as Ama, which is heating and dry in nature. Aggravated Vata-Kapha, along with contamination of the tissue results in higher shedding of dead epidermal cells in your scalp, which is commonly known as dandruff.

The main causes of dandruff [1] are:

  • Low vitality
  • Irregular bowel movement
  • Blood impurity
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Irregular sleeping habits
  • Excessive dietary salt intake
  • Consuming cold-frigid drinks/water
  • Exposure to harmful UV rays
  • Avoiding hair oil massage on scalp
  • Contact dermatitis
  • Emotional stress
  • Hormonal imbalance
  • Skin conditions like eczema, seborrheic dermatitis [2] or psoriasis

What Causes Dry Scalp According To Ayurveda?

As per the ancient Ayurvedic excerpts, dry scalp occurs when there is an increase of Vata dosha in your body. When the level of Vata dosha rises in your system, it lowers the level of Kapha dosha, leaving your scalp dry and irritated.

This persistent irritation in your scalp can also be accompanied by hair loss and dandruff.

One of the primary causes of dry scalp is the usage of harsh chemical-laden hair products, which damage and dry your scalp and hair. Skin infections, excessive washing of hair and overall dehydration of the body can also lead to a dry scalp.

Dandruff Vs Dry Scalp Flakes: Understanding The Differences

Based on the symptoms you’re experiencing, you can understand the differences between dry scalp flakes and dandruff as listed in the table below:


Dry Scalp


Observe dry skin on your arms, legs or any other region



Scaly, red and oily skin



Itchy and dry scalp



Dry, small skin flakes



Oily, large skin flakes which are white or yellow-colored



Dry scalp results in small and white flakes, whereas dandruff flakes are comparatively larger and appear oily. Both dry scalp flakes and dandruff appear and disappear with time. However, dandruff which occurs due to a fungal infection usually requires treatment to get better.

On the other hand, dry scalp may heal if you avoid using shampoo for your hair daily. Irritated and itchy scalp is seen in both conditions. People with severe symptoms may tend to scratch their scalp, which leads to small sores or redness.

Ayurvedic Methods To Treat Dandruff And Dry Scalp

1. Ayurvedic Therapies

A. Shirodhara

shirodhara ayurveda massage

Shirodhara is a type of treatment in which warm Ayurvedic oil infused with herbal ingredients is poured onto your forehead. The process of oil pour continues for approximately 30 minutes, followed by a complete body abhyanga or srota massage, which involves scalp manipulation and cranial activation.

The Ayurvedic treatment is renowned for managing excessive Vata in your system. The steadiness, weight, and warmth of the oil poured gently balances the light and cool nature of the Vata dosha.

Besides treating dandruff and dry scalp, the Shirodhara treatment also helps in counteracting the effects of stress, reducing anxiety, and improving sleep quality.

B. Shiro Abhyanga

Shiro Abhyanga [3] is a relaxing head, neck and shoulder massage using a mix of medicated herbal oils. This Ayurvedic treatment helps in relieving itching and dryness in the scalp by enhancing oxygen and blood flow.

C. Thalapothichil

It is a traditional Ayurvedic treatment which involves massaging the scalp with prescribed oils, followed by application of herbal juices and medicated pastes combined with oils onto your head and scalp.

The combination includes ingredients like Panchagandha, Musta, Amlaki, and others that are grounded to form a thick paste. This treatment helps in stimulating your hair follicles and reducing dryness of your scalp.

D. Nasya

Nasya is an Ayurvedic therapy which involves lubricating your nasal route with herbal oils, powders or juices that specifically manage your scalp and hair issues. Urdhvajatrugat Vikara Nasya heals diseases of all organs above the shoulders.

The medicinal oils administered through your nostrils help detoxify the toxins in your head, which is known as shodhana. When the medicated oil reaches back in your throat after passing through your nostril, you must spit it out. This relieves blockage and helps in treating underlying conditions.

Besides treating dandruff, Nasya is a recommended treatment for hair fall, headaches, premature greying of hair and congestion.

Word of caution: Do not undergo the Nasya therapy post Shirodhara or heavy meals. This therapy should be done on an empty stomach.

2. Ayurvedic Supplements For Dandruff And Dry Scalp

Below are some of the most effective Ayurvedic herbs you can take as dietary supplements for treating dry scalp and dandruff:

  • Chalmogra oil
  • Mahamanjisthadi Kadha
  • Kaishore Guggulu
  • Sarivadyasava
  • Khadiraristha
  • Gandhak Rasayana
  • Arogyavardhini Bati
  • Surakta Syrup
  • Guduchyadi Taila
  • Neem Capsules
  • Amla juice

Important Note: Please consult your Ayurvedic doctor before taking any Ayurvedic supplements or medications.

3. Natural Hair Masks for Dandruff and Dry Scalp

A. Methi (Fenugreek)

Methi or Fenugreek seeds have a high nicotinic acid and protein content, which helps treat scalp issues like hair thinning, baldness and dryness.

fenugreek seedson metal plate

How to use:

  • Start with soaking three tablespoons of Methi seeds in water and keeping it overnight.
  • Blend the Methi seeds to form a thick paste the next morning.
  • Add one tablespoon of lemon juice into the Methi paste and apply the mixture onto your scalp and hair.
  • Allow it to dry for approximately 30 minutes before rinsing with a mild shampoo.
  • You can also heat a few Methi seeds in coconut oil. Once the oil cools down, strain and use it to massage your hair and scalp.
  • Methi powder can be used to form a paste, combined with yogurt or henna as a nourishing hair mask.

B. Lemon

Due to its rich antifungal, antibacterial and antioxidant properties, lemon is a great natural remedy for dandruff. It also contains zinc, flavonoids, Vitamin C and citric acid, which help in preventing itchiness and dry scalp.

How to use:

  • Begin with mixing equal parts of olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and ginger juice. Apply the mixture into your scalp and leave it to dry for 30 minutes. Wash off your hair using a mild shampoo.
  • Another hair mask which you can easily make in your home is by mixing lemon peel powder, sandalwood powder and multani mitti. Make a thick paste by adding water and apply it onto your scalp. Allow it to dry for 30 minutes and rinse with a mild shampoo.
  • Prepare a hair mask by mixing two egg whites with fresh lime juice. Apply it to your hair and leave it for 30 minutes before washing your hair with a neem shampoo/soap for dandruff-free hair.

C. Green Gram

Green gram is an effective natural remedy for treating dandruff, which can be used as a herbal shampoo.

How to use:

  • Prepare a thick paste of green gram powder by mixing it with water. Apply the paste onto your scalp and hair and rinse with lukewarm water after 15 minutes.
  • If you have oily hair, you can use curd to form a paste and rinse your hair with a mild shampoo.

D. Snake Gourd

Snake gourd is an excellent homemade remedy to treat dry scalp and dandruff. You can massage your scalp with the freshly extracted juice. Allow it to dry for 30 minutes and rinse your hair with a mild shampoo. This prevents the recurrence of dandruff by detoxifying your scalp.

E. Neem

With its high disinfectant properties, Neem oil helps in relieving dandruff, which appears due to fungal skin infection. In ancient Ayurveda, Neem [4] has played a significant role in Indian hair care routine as it is renowned for its antiviral and antifungal properties.

How to use:

  • Prepare a Neem paste by grinding the leaves and combining it with some curd. Apply it generously all over your hair and scalp and leave it on for 30 minutes.
  • Another beneficial remedy is Neem oil, which can be used directly or by combining with rosemary and tea tree oils.
  • You can also try chewing fresh Neem leaves on an empty stomach every morning for quick relief from dandruff.

F. Amla

Amla is a rich source of Vitamin C, which helps treat dry scalp effectively and prevents dandruff from recurring. With anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, Amla is an excellent natural remedy for dandruff. It also relieves the itching caused by dry scalp.

How to use:

  • Make a paste by mixing amla powder in water. Blend a few Tulsi leaves separately in water and combine both the pastes. Apply the mix onto your scalp and hair and allow it to dry for 30 minutes. Wash off your hair in cold water using a mild shampoo.

Medical Treatments For Dandruff And Dry Scalp

Over the counter scalp products and shampoos are easily available in pharmacies and drugstores to manage seborrheic dermatitis. But, they are synthetically made and cannot heal it completely. We would advise you to prefer natural, Ayurvedic products over chemical-laden options.

woman washing her hair

Before using an anti-fungal shampoo, you should first gently remove any crusty or scaly patches on your scalp. This will help the scalp products and shampoos to work more effectively.

Before buying any antifungal or anti-dandruff shampoo [5], you can quickly scan through the list for at least one of these active ingredients:

  • Coal tar
  • Zinc pyrithione
  • Selenium sulfide
  • Ketoconazole
  • Tea-tree oil
  • Salicylic acids

Note: If you have a severe case of dry scalp [6], then avoid using any hair treatment products containing salicylic acids as it may worsen your existing condition.

The best management strategy is to use such shampoos [7] until your dry scalp and dandruff condition is under control. Once you are able to manage your scalp condition, you can use these less frequently. Always consult your doctor for the right treatment.

Remember to alternate your dandruff shampoo with a mild variant for better results. A few of these shampoos should be left on your scalp for 5-10 minutes for the ingredients to work, while some others require to be rinsed quickly. Please follow the instructions mentioned on the container.

Please note that these shampoos contain chemical ingredients which can cause side effects and damage your hair with long-term use. Hence, it is always advisable to use natural ingredients and remedies to treat dandruff and dry scalp, based on your doshas.

The Last Word

In Ayurveda, dry scalp and dandruff materialize due to anxiety, stress, blood impurity and several other underlying health conditions. By knowing the difference between their symptoms and recognizing the dosha imbalances in your system through Ayurveda’s intrinsic and time-tested approach, you can effectively manage your scalp issues.

Vedix helps you to understand and incorporate the best hair care solutions by customizing a natural Ayurvedic hair care regimen for you.

Know Your Dosha Now

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