Dandruff and Psoriasis: What’s the Difference?

By Leah Campbell
Reviewed by Allison Truong, M.D.
April 05, 2022

Plenty of people have experienced flakes of skin in their hair, otherwise referred to as dandruff. There are many hair-care lines that promise to help eliminate those pesky flakes, and research has found that roughly half the population deals with dandruff at some point in their lives.

But what if those flakes aren’t just run-of-the-mill dandruff? Here, we explain how to tell the difference between dandruff and scalp psoriasis.

The Difference Lies in the Root Cause

“Both dandruff and psoriasis can cause itchy, red, scaly areas in the scalp and sometimes on the face,” says Scott Paviol, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at PHC Paviol Dermatology in Charlotte, North Carolina. While these conditions can sometimes be difficult to distinguish, they have a very different root cause.

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