How Do You Treat A Dry Scalp And Oily Hair?

Written by Anjali Sayee

Having a combination of dry scalp and oily hair is no joke. We often hear about people having an oily scalp with dry hair, but what about the lesser-known combo of dry scalp paired with oily hair? There is some speculation around what causes a dry scalp with oily hair. In this article, we discuss the causes of dry scalp and oily hair, some symptoms to look out for, and how to treat this condition. Keep reading!

Causes Of Dry Scalp And Oily Hair

A dry scalp is mainly characterized by itching and flaking, and it could be a sign of pruritus (1). It occurs when your scalp is not properly hydrated. Scalp flaking is mainly caused by sebaceous activity (2). The sebaceous glands produce sebum, a complex oil containing triglycerides, fatty acid, wax esters, squalene, cholesteryl esters, and cholesterol. When there is less sebum secreted, the scalp becomes undernourished and starts flaking. A reduction in sebum production can be caused by quite a few issues like:

  • Over-shampooing
  • Fungal or bacterial infections
  • Weather conditions
  • Thermal damage from styling tools
  • Hair dyes
  • Improper hygiene and health care

On the other hand, oily hair is a sign of overproduction of sebum. Excess oil production may hinder hair growth by clogging the pores on your scalp. Hair thinning is commonly associated with excessively oily hair.

A dry scalp paired with oily hair is fairly very common, and it is usually seen in people with straight hair. If you have straight hair, the sebum travels down the length of your hair easily, leaving your scalp dry and your hair too oily. Another suggestion is that there might be too much dirt and product residue built up in the pores of your scalp. These clogged pores push sebum down the length of your hair, leaving the scalp dry.

Scroll down to check out the symptoms of this type of combination hair.


If you have a dry scalp with oily hair, you may notice the following symptoms:

  • Small white flakes on your scalp.
  • Your hair always looks flat.
  • You wash your hair every other day due to greasiness.
  • You may notice redness or small bumps on the scalp.

These symptoms can be quite bothersome, so you may want to treat them. Check out the next section for are some treatment options that you can try!


The best treatment for a dry scalp is to moisturize it with deep conditioners, oils, and hair masks.

  • Keep your scalp moisturized by oiling it regularly, around least twice a week. You can also warm up the oil a bit for better results.
  • Use deep conditioning treatments specifically made for the scalp. These treatments will contain concentrated ingredients that nourish and hydrate the scalp.
  • You can also try hydrating hair packs and masks that contain ingredients like aloe vera, glycerin, avocado, etc. as they moisturize the scalp.

To treat oily hair, use refreshing and cleansing products.

  • Use hair masks that contain rosemary and other sebum-balancing ingredients.
  • You can use dry shampoos to remove excess oil from the hair strands instead of shampooing your hair regularly.
  • Instead of washing your hair too often, you can shampoo your hair once or twice a week and co-wash products the other days. Co-washes and conditioning cleansers don’t completely dry out the scalp like regular shampoos might. But they don’t completely cleanse the scalp, which is you need to use shampoo at least once a week.

Does having a dry scalp lead to dandruff? Find out in the next section!

Can A Dry Scalp Cause Dandruff

Dry scalp and dandruff are two completely different scalp issues that are commonly mistaken for each other. Dandruff is commonly caused by an oily scalp. The oily scalp allows the fungus Malassezia furfur to grow, which causes dandruff.

A dry scalp normally does not cause dandruff. If you do notice dandruff flakes on your scalp that persists even after treatment, then it might be seborrheic dermatitis or chronic dandruff.

There may be cases when too oily hair or an extremely dry scalp might be a sign of some other condition. Scroll down to the next section to find out when to see a doctor.

When Should You See A Doctor?

Please consult a doctor if you notice any of the following:

  • If the dryness on the scalp is paired with severe redness or inflammation and hair loss.
  • If the dryness on the scalp persists even after applying hydrating packs, serums, masks, and deep conditioning treatments.
  • Your hair is starting to thin out with excess oil.
  • You start experiencing hair loss.


While dry scalp with oily hair may sound like a strange combination, it is a fairly common condition. You can treat it by using hydrating products on your scalp and limiting how often you wash your hair. It is a good idea to consult a doctor if you start experiencing hair loss. Use the treatment tips mentioned above to get a healthy scalp and hair!

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  1. A Practical Guide to Scalp Disorders
  2. The Role of Sebaceous Gland Activity and Scalp Micro floral Metabolism in the Etiology of Seborrheic Dermatitis and
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Anjali Sayee is a writer and an introvert. From studying Aeronautical Engineering and wanting to design her own airplane to writing articles on hairstyles, she has been on quite a journey. She believes that hair is one of the key factors that define a woman’s personality. To quote her, “What’s the first thing they do in the movies to show a personality change? Change the hair – because it has a life of its own.” She’s here to help you find the hairstyle you need. This bookworm is a self-professed Wholocker, a talented drummer, and an amateur photographer.