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  5. Scalp Psoriasis Vs Dandruff : Differences In Symptoms & Ayurvedic Remedies

Are flakes on your scalp troubling you? Before you conclude that it's dandruff, you need to read this article.

Both dandruff and scalp psoriasis result in flaking, especially in the initial stage. "Without identifying what exactly causes your scalp skin to flake off, there are high chances that you may treat your scalp with unsuitable remedies that may worsen the condition,’’ says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.

To avoid such mishaps, we are here to help you understand how to differentiate scalp psoriasis from dandruff. Keep reading to learn natural treatments for them too.

How Is Scalp Psoriasis Different From Dandruff?

1. While dandruff usually develops only on your scalp region, you can notice psoriasis extending to your forehead, back of your neck, and the region around your ears.

2. Also, you may experience psoriasis in other regions in your body like palms, feet, elbows, legs, etc.

3. Often, dandruff is a mild condition with dry or greasy scalp flaking that may come and go.

4. On the other hand, scalp psoriasis is a chronic condition that is more scaly than flaky. Unlike dandruff, you may notice silver or red (in severe cases) plaque formation in scalp psoriasis.

Scalp Psoriasis Vs Dandruff Symptoms

Dry scalp (incase of dry dandruff)

Greasy scalp (incase of oily dandruff)

  • White flakes on your scalp, hair, and shoulders
  • Itchiness
  • Dry scalp (incase of dry dandruff)
  • Greasy scalp (incase of oily dandruff)
  • Sometimes, it leads to the development of scalp acne
  • Hair loss
  • It is not contagious and mostly triggers between 10-20 years of age
  • Dry scalp
  • Dandruff like flaking
  • Red patches covered in thick silvery scales
  • Extreme itchiness (sometimes, it is not itchy)
  • Big flakes attached to your hair shaft
  • Bleeding happens when you remove the thick silver crust on your scalp
  • Hair loss
  • It is not contagious and mostly triggers between 15-35 years of age

Now, let’s understand what causes each of the two scalp ailments along with different Ayurvedic home remedies.

What Is Dandruff?

Dandruff is a condition that develops due to hyperproliferation [1] of your scalp skin. It means your scalp sheds dead skin cells rapidly due to shortening of the cell renewal process. In Ayurveda, dandruff is termed as ‘darunaka’.

Types Of Dandruff

1. Dry Dandruff

In this condition, your scalp produces dry, white, and loose flakes.

2. Oily Dandruff Or Seborrheic Dermatitis [2]

In this condition, you will notice oily and yellowish flakes that stick to your scalp and hair.

What Causes Dandruff?

Based on the Ayurvedic concept of tridoshas, you are in an absolute healthy state when your bodily energies, Vata, Pitta, and Kapha are in equilibrium. An imbalance of any of these tri doshas will result in a variety of health problems, including scalp and hair problems.

Ayurveda describes ‘Darunaka’ or dandruff as a result of the vitiation of all the three doshas. "While dry dandruff is a consequence of aggravated Vata and Pitta doshas, imbalance occurring in Kapha-Vata-Pitta doshas (predominantly Kapha dosha) can cause oily dandruff accompanied by fungal infections,’’ says Dr. Zeel.

Hence, it is very crucial to understand the status of your doshas before undergoing any Ayurvedic treatments for dandruff.

Here are the different factors that contribute to the development of dandruff by causing derangement of your doshas:

1. Fungus called Malassezia globosa [3]

2. Other skin mites that feed on your scalp sebum

3. Genetic predisposition as dandruff is most likely to run in families

4. Seasonal conditions like wind, sun exposure, cold or heat weather

5. Physical or emotional stress

6. Hormonal imbalances

7. Poor scalp hygiene like not shampooing enough, using dirty combs or brushes, etc.

8. Lifestyle factors such as improper diet or alcohol intake

9. Harsh chemical hair products may trigger skin allergies that cause dry dandruff.

10. Lower immunity levels (in HIV or cancer patients)

man showing scalp dandruff

What Is Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis is the result of the malfunctioning of your immune system [4]. It develops when your immune system or white blood cells trigger overproduction of skin cells which build up in the form of thick plaques on your scalp. It is known as ‘Kithibha’ in Ayurveda.

Scalp Psoriasis Causes

As per Ayurveda, scalp psoriasis results from deranged Vata and Kapha doshas in your body. And, genetics play a predominant role in the development of the condition.

Other factors that can trigger scalp psoriasis by causing an imbalance in your doshas are:

1. Stress

2. Extreme temperatures

3. Smoking [6]

4. Alcoholism

5. Vitamin D deficiency

6. Other frequent infections

psoriatic skin disease in hair

According to recent studies, if one of the identical twins develops psoriasis, there is about a 70 % chance that the other identical twin can also develop the disease [5]. Genetics is one of the predominant factors that cause psoriasis and over ⅓rd of patients are noticed to have a family history of the disease.

Can Dandruff Turn Into Psoriasis?

There is no scientific evidence that claims that dandruff can turn into psoriasis. However, the overlap of the two conditions seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis can be noticed in people and it is termed as sebopsoriasis [7].

‘’It is marked by scalp plaque formation which is thicker than the typical seborrheic dermatitis,’’ says Dr. Zeel.

How Are Dandruff And Scalp Psoriasis Treated In Ayurveda?

A. Effective Ayurvedic Home Remedies For Dandruff

1. Apply coconut oil mixed with a pinch of black pepper to your scalp. Leave it for 20-30 minutes before washing it off using an Ayurvedic shampoo. Repeat it at least once in a week if you have dry dandruff. Black pepper balances your elevated Vata and Kapha doshas.

2. Apply coconut oil mixed with a little amount of camphor to your scalp before going to bed. Camphor is the best antifungal agent to control your dandruff and it balances your elevated Kapha and Pitta doshas.

3. Soak fenugreek seeds overnight and prepare a fine paste in the morning. Apply the paste thoroughly across your scalp and wash it off after 30 minutes. Fenugreek works well to pacify your aggravated Vata and Kapha doshas.

4. Lemon also controls your dandruff due to its high antimicrobial properties. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and amla juice. Massage your scalp with the solution thoroughly before going to bed and wash it off in the morning. Lemon balances all the three doshas, especially Vata and Kapha doshas.

5. Neem [8] is a highly potential dandruff eliminator due to its extremely bitter and astringent properties that work against fungal infestation. Apply neem paste to your scalp and wash it off after 30 minutes. Repeat this process twice or thrice a week. You can also use neem rinse prepared by boiling neem leaves in water. Neem balances elevated Pitta and Kapha doshas.

6. You can include essential oils [9] with antimicrobial properties like tea tree oil, lemongrass oil, cedarwood oil, thyme oil, rosemary oil, etc. in your hair care routine. Add a few drops of any essential oil in half a cup of coconut oil and give your scalp a gentle massage before head bath. Repeat this process twice or thrice a week.

Vedix Tip

Avoid foods like nightshades, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes and peppers, which can trigger inflammation. Also, avoid lemons, fermented foods, pickles, spicy or salty foods, extremely sweet foods, fried foods, etc. in your diet as these foods may encourage psoriasis flares. Most importantly, stay away from tobacco and alcohol consumption.

B. Effective Ayurvedic Home Remedies For Scalp Psoriasis

1. Add a tsp of turmeric powder into a half cup of curd. Apply this mixture on the affected areas on your scalp and leave it for about 30 minutes before rinsing it off using lukewarm water. Turmeric contains curcumin [10], which fights against specific proteins that are responsible for psoriasis spread. You can also include turmeric in your regular diet as it balances all the three doshas.

2. Apply freshly extracted aloe vera gel on your scalp regularly. This helps in reducing the redness and scaling tremendously while aloe vera balances all the three doshas well.

3. Prepare a fine paste by crushing jasmine flowers. Add some yogurt and coconut oil into it. Apply this mixture thoroughly across your scalp and leave it for 30-45 minutes before washing it off using an Ayurvedic shampoo. Jasmine reduces itching and inflammation while balancing all the three doshas.

4. Oral medications of guggul (Indian bdellium) and shallaki (Boswellia Serrata) [11] are the most commonly used herbs to treat psoriasis. Your Ayurvedic consultant can prescribe you the right dosage based on your dosha profile.

5. Include garlic in your diet regularly as it helps in your blood purification and controls psoriasis by reducing inflammatory responses in your body.

6. Regular Panchakarma therapy helps to detox and purify your body, which contributes exceptionally in controlling your scalp psoriasis.

Important Note

We recommend you to seek immediate medical help if the flaking does not clear up despite your regular practice of Ayurvedic remedies. This is because it may also be an indication of some severe underlying medical condition. Also, consult your physician or Ayurvedic practitioner before applying any of the herbal remedies mentioned above to treat dandruff or scalp psoriasis.

The Last Word

Treating dandruff and scalp psoriasis in Ayurvedic ways not only relieves you from the symptoms and reduces flaring, but also keeps you out of risky side effects. Ayurvedic herbal formulations based on your vitiated doshas have long-term benefits on your scalp health while they help you maintain your doshas in the equilibrium state. At Vedix, we customize an Ayurvedic hair care regimen for your unique hair needs by analyzing the current state of your doshas.

Know Your Dosha Now