If your scalp is extremely dry, you might notice a buildup of flakes on your scalp, in your hair and even on your clothes, especially after scratching. Dandruff is a very common condition that many people suffer from at some point in their lives. Severe cases of dandruff, however, can develop into scalp conditions that result in very large, often itchy flakes of skin.
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Aside from severe dandruff, two scalp disorders can result in both an extra dry scalp and large flakes of dead skin. Plaque psoriasis can cause a buildup of itchy, large scales of skin on your scalp. You may also suffer from a disorder known as seborrheic dermatitis, a form of eczema. According to the International Eczema-Psoriasis Foundation, this condition commonly occurs in people with both oily and very dry scalps. It results in large, dry, whitish scales and is often accompanied by inflammation.
Dandruff can be caused by several factors, including dry skin, weather conditions, skin sensitivity to certain products or infrequent shampooing. Dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis and scalp psoriasis may have a genetic component, as it tends to run in families, according to the International Eczema-Psoriasis Foundation.
Certain lifestyle and other risk factors can exacerbate dry, flaky scalp conditions. According to MayoClinic.com, you're more likely to develop dandruff if you're a man, have a poor diet -- especially if you're not getting enough zinc, certain types of fats or B vitamins -- or suffer from physical illnesses such as Parkinson's disease.
Certain over-the-counter medicated shampoos containing zinc pyrithione, coal tar, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole or salicylic acid may help alleviate dry, flaky scalp conditions, according to MayoClinic.com. If these shampoos don't help, see your doctor. Prescription medications such as oral antibiotics or creams containing anti-fungal agents may be beneficial.
An alternative treatment to try for dandruff is a shampoo that contains tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has anti-fungal and antiseptic properties, which may be effective for this condition. You can purchase commercially prepared shampoos containing tea tree oil in most drug and grocery stores. Use caution if you have sensitive skin, as tea tree oil may cause irritation.