Lice vs dandruff: 7 clear differences & similarities to know

Lice vs dandruff

Feeling confused between differentiating ‘Lice vs Dandruff’ since they can share a lot of similarities in their characteristics and appearances?

If you are, then you are in the right place!

You have every right to confuse between the two common problems Each year about 7-10 million people in the US alone are affected by lice. Such is the case with dandruff too. Almost every one of use must have gone through both of these common scalp problems once in their life.

In this guide, I would be going through both of them in minute details to make you easily understand to differentiate whether its ‘lice or dandruff’ and treat both Lice and dandruff at home with easy-to-find home treatments.

Lice: How to check yourself for lice?

How to check for lice

Before you are able to understand ‘how to tell if you have lice or not’, first you need to know the definition and general look of common lice. Let’s find out these two things first, then understand its types, symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.

Lice: definition & pictures

Lice (the plural of louse) is essentially a tiny parasite that is attached to human hair and primarily feeds of blood of the human skull. Medically, a lice infestation is known as “Pediculosis Capitis”.

The most prevalent kind of lice is head lice. There are following different types of lice that you need to know

Types of lice

Types of lice

There are three primary types of lice which are Head lice, body lice, and pubic lice. The most common type of lice in humans is ‘Head lice’.

1. Body lice

This type of lice lives most of its time on the body of their hosts and on humans, they lay their eggs on clothes. It only goes onto the body to feed itself. Since they live on animal bodies, they are commonly associated with the spreading of diseases among them.

2. Head lice

Head lice are special since they are the species of lice that live only on humans i.e you can never contact them from other animals like cat, dog, pit or other pet you might have at your home. In simple words, they can’t survive without humans.

Now, since they are contagious parasites and can’t fly as they have now wings, their eternal home is a human scalp.

So, these exist in human hair in either of these forms.

  1. Eggs, called ‘nits’ ( tiny white specks on your hair are lice legs)
  2. Young adults in humans hair called nymphs ( tan-colored lice insects hatching from nits, the eggs of lice)
  3. Adult lice, just squalling the size of a sesame seed

3. Pubic lice

Commonly known as crabs, are the smallest type of lice and are transmitted only during the sexual activity of individuals since they live in the hairs of the host’s genitals. The common itching you feel in your genitals is mainly due to this kind of lice

Causes of lice: How you get lice?

Causes of lice

Since a lice is a parasite, it is very contagious and can easily crawl and transmit itself to other people through frequent close contacts.

The common medium of crawling and transmission of lice from one to another are.

  • Poor hygiene
  • Your bedding
  • Your clothing
  • Your towels
  • Your personal use items like combs, hair accessories, and hats
  • Most commonly, your family member who comes frequently in close contact to you can easily transmit these lice

Symptoms of lice: How to tell if you have lice?

symptoms of lice

Now we know the most common causes of lice, let’s find out common symptoms of lice to enable yourself to differentiate lice just by judging its symptoms.

  • Frequent and intense scratching of your head
  • Frequent and intense itching on your scalp
  • Red spots formation on scalp upon scratching
  • Lice eggs attached to your hair in the shape of a tear
  • Little tiny black spots in your hair 
  • Your swollen lymph

Dandruff: definition and pictures

Dandruff definition and pictures

Dandruff is a skin condition of your head scalp (unlike lice, which is about your hair) which causes white flakes of hair to appear in your brush, or your shoulder or collar.

Generally harmless, it is non-contagious and non-inflammatory but it is embarrassing to be seen and reflect poor upkeep of your head skin health.  The biggest harm associated with it is sometimes intense itching that can make you restless.

What causes Dandruff?

What causes dandruff?

  • Extremely dry or oily skin
  • Seborrheic dermatitis( It affect many areas of skin like the back of your ears, eyebrows, nose sides. people suffering from it have irritated, oily skin which makes them more prone to dandruff)
  • Skin yeast
  • Less brushing of your hair
  • Some skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
  • Your shampoo or skincare products
  • Certain medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease
  • Your vitamins deficient diet 
  • Age factor( young adolescents are more likely to get it than adults)
  • Genetic factors

While it commonly affects young people, children can also experience it in the form of a Cradle cap, which is a type of dandruff commonly found in newborn babies.

Symptoms of dandruff

symptoms of dandruff

  • Yellow or white flakes on your clothing
  • An extremely dry or oilskin which is flaky
  • Constant itching scalp
  • Formation of red patches on your scalp
  • In extremely dry or cold weather, above-mentioned symptoms become more severe and pronounced
  • A temporary hair loss which is apparent while you are brushing or washing

Lice vs dandruff: Differences and similarities

While the symptoms of both lice and dandruff are the same i.e you do have sever itching in both cases and you might be wondering what is causing this itchiness in my head?

Is that because of lice or dandruff? How do I spot the difference between the two. Well, you don’t need to worry as I am going to list below all the visible differences between lice and dandruff to easily figure out is that lice or dandruff in your head.?

Lice vs dandruff: Differences

difference between Lice and dandruff

The following are the most important differences and similarities between lice and dandruff.

Difference 1: Location

Lice are primarily concerned with our hairs where they lay their eggs called nits while Dandruff is primarily concerned with your head scalp. So nits continue to attach to our hair while dandruff after flaking easily falls off our hair.

At first sight, they look the same thing but close analysis can easily reveal these differences

Difference 2: transmission and contagion

Another very clear difference between the two is their ability to transmit from one host to another or being contagious. While Dandruff is not contagious and does not transmit from your family member or closely attached people but this is not the case with lice.

Lice, on the other hand, can easily transmit from a family person or a close relative who has head lice to a lice-free person.

Difference 3: Color

Lice are generally apparent in the form of black or brown spots on your hair while dandruff is white or yellowish in color.

Difference 4: Visibility

While lice can need a magnifying glass to closely observe them since they are tiny in their initial stage of life, this is not the case with dandruff which is easily visible on your hair and can be spotted on your shoulder or clothing if it flakes down in whitish or yellowish hue.

Difference 5: Degree of harmfulness

While dandruff is most of the time temporary and harmless and can be easily treated but this is not the case with head lice. Lice can cause very severe itching of our head causing your lymph nodes to swell,  which can sometimes lead to serious bacterial infections

Lice vs Dandruff: similarities

Lice and dandruff similarities

The following are the most important similarities between lice and dandruff which can help you differentiate between the two common problems of the scalp.

Similarity 1: Both can cause severe itching

This is one of the common symptoms of two as both can cause an equal sensation of itching but they do vary in their severity or harmfulness. While itching of lice can lead to serious bacterial infections, dandruff itching is generally temporary and harmless.

Dandruff tends to itch more when the scalp is dry. People with lice may feel a crawling sensation on their scalp.

Similarity 2: Both can have white specs or flakes on your scalp

This is another commonality between the two. Both lice and dandruff can have white specs or flakes on your scalp. For lice, it is due to nits, for dandruff it is primarily due to flaking of scalp skin.

Lice treatment

Lice treatment

To treat lice, there are both effective medicated and home remedies. First, I will briefly explain a very common and effective medicated shampoo treatment and then I would go through some very effective home remedies.


1. Medicated prescription shampoo

Medicated lice shampoo

Medicated shampoo Treatment contains lice and zits-killing ingredients like permethrin and pyrethrin which is usable for all children and people over 2 years of age.

How to use medicated shampoo?

  1. First, change your clothes because they can be stained or colored during treatment application.
  2. Always follow the usage Menaul and if you have long hair, you may need an additional shampoo bottle.
  3. Application of lice killing shampoo should not be done and forget option. Rather check for results in the next 8-10 hours after application.
  4. When you find your head lice dead, use a fine comb to take out dead lice

As far as the frequency of medicated shampoo usage for effective lice treatment, try using it after every week from the day you start using to make sure your lice are dead.

Best Natural remedies for lice

best natural remedies for lice

The following are some of the best home remedies for treating lice at home. If you can’t get your hand’s on a specialized medicated anti-lice shampoo, don’t worry. These natural lice remedies are equally powerful at removing lice and could save you a lot of money.

1. Tea tree oil for lice treatment

tea tree oil for lice treatment at home

Why it is effective for lice?

  • It has strong anti-fungal and anti-microbial characteristics that can effectively fight lice, their eggs, and bacteria or any kind of infection emanating from them.

How to use it?

Take about 2-3 drops of tea tree oil, and massage your scalp directly for a few minutes. Next, tie up hair tightly and leave it for 2-3 hours before rinsing them off with slightly lukewarm water.

As far as frequency of usage, try using tea tree oil for at least once a week while using are trying to kill lice but being regular with it with also ensure to prevent lice coming back once they are killed. 

2. Sodium chloride & Acetic acid solution for lice

sodium chloride and acetic solution for head lice

salt for getting rid of lice is another effective home remedy to combat lice. As for its frequency of usage, try doing this at least twice a week for a whole month and minutely measure your progress.

Why this is effective for lice?

Both of these home ingredients have very good desiccating characteristics that strip all the moisture from your hair which makes it difficult for lice and nits to survive.

How to use it?

Take about less than half a cup of both solutions and mix them and save them in a separate bottle together. Now, spread this mixed solution all over your scalp and hair and leave your head as it is for a couple of hours before rinsing it with slightly lukewarm water.

As for its frequency of usage, try doing this at least twice a week for a whole month and minutely measure your progress.

3. Use your own blow hairdryer for lice

blow hair dryer for lice treatment

I am sure you would be surprised to know your favorite blow dryer could be used for this purpose.

To make use of dryer for this job, open up your scalp, turn your dryer hottest setting and start moving over your scalp. The immense heat would be too much for buddying nits and lice. 

Also, the heat of dryer would strip off any moisture of your hair which is important for lice survival. After 5-10 minutes of blow drying at the hottest setting, comb your hair with a fine comb to remove off any dead lice or nits.

4. Suffocate-kill your lice with olive oil

kill your lice with olive oil

Suffocating and killing your lice is another home remedy that you can follow to kill your lice and Olive oil is the best choice to do it.

How to do it?

Begin with taking a thick layer of olive oil and apply all over your scalp and hair lengths. Then tie up your hair firmly, cover them up properly with a good cap, and go to sleep at night.

During the night, the olive oil would cause nits and lice to suffocate while you sleep. Next morning, get up and comb your hair with a fine comb to remove leftover dead lice debris.

As far as frequency of its usage, try it for at least a month every week until you completely get rid of your lice.

5. Make use of powerful antiseptic neem for lice

The powerful antibacterial and antiseptic properties of neem are too good for any kind of lice.  It’s a very powerful natural remedy to doing away with lice naturally for good.

How to do it?

Take a handful of neem leaves and boil them in a cup of water. Now take the juice and leaves of neem and directly apply over your hair and leave alone your hair for at least a couple of hours. After that, wash them off with lukewarm water

Or else, if you can’t your hands on neem leaves you can make use of commercially available neem oil for lice treatment at home.

6. Try Apple cider vinegar with coconut oil for lice

apple cider vinegar and coconut oil for lice treatment

This combination is another powerful source of stopping the spread of lice. While sheer acidity of acetic acid can easily kill your lice, the suffocating properties of coconut oil can kill them too overnight.

How to use it?

To use it in an effective manner, first, apply a spoonful of apple cider vinegar and massage all over your scalp and hair lengths.

Once this apple vinegar has dried up, take coconut oil and massage your hair with it now and cover all your head with it and leave it untouched under a head cap for the whole night. 

Next morning, wash your hair with slightly lukewarm water.

Try doing this two times a week for the whole month until you feel a clear respite from disturbing lice.

7. Try out Anise oil for head lice

Anise oil for head lice treatment

Anise oil may coat and suffocate-kill lice.

2018 study of natural remedies for lice in children found out that anise oil was one of the most effective natural remedies.

Although other home remedies were found frequently effective as well but anise oil was one of just two that permanently eliminated lice for people who used.

8. Try Mayonnaise for lice

Mayonnaise for lice

Mayonnaise for head lice can be an effective natural remedy against lice owing to the following factors:

  • Since Lice can open and close their breathing holes to avoid suffocation, so there’s no guarantee that it will always work. The National Pediculosis Association has received conflicting reports on the success of this home remedy.

How to use it for treating lice?

  1. People who’ve tried it recommend using real, full-fat mayonnaise. Simply slather it on liberally and pop on a shower cap.
  2. Let the mayo do its thing overnight and then shampoo and comb for nits in the morning.
  3. Finally, repeat one week later to kill any lice that hatch from nits that survive the treatment.

Preventing lice: How to keep lice permanently away?

While any kind of medicated treatment or home remedy can kill lice from the scalp, but if you’re not careful and don’t take proper preventing steps, you are bound to go through the whole diagnosis and lice treatment cycle again.

So, note down below given preventative steps given by (CDC) and never get lice near you.

Best Lice prevention tips

The following are the best lice prevention tips to avoid lice in the first place.

1. Keep your hair usage items separate.

This is the single most important prevention strategy that can effectively lice clinging onto your head. Since lice can easily crawl in and out of your belongings, so it is imperative to use only your own items and keep them separated.

The following items should be kept separate.

  • Combs and brushes
  • Hair accessories like clips, ponies
  • Your clothing like a coat 
  • Your bath or mouth towels
  • Your headsets or earbuds if you have

2. Teach your kids to avoid a lot of head-to-head contacts

This is another very effective lice prevention strategy. Often little children are unaware of any kind of lice and when they play around, they are very likely to touch each other heads giving lice pathways to crawl over to another host. 

This further can travel to parents when they touch or share a bed or chair with their kids while cuddling them. To teach and demonstrate your kids to avoid any such games which make their head contact with others very frequently.

Finally, if your daughter or son has long hair, you can teach him to use a hair controlling ponytail to perfectly bind your hair to avoid getting in contact with another child so often.

3. Completely separate out personal belongings.

Shared spaces like closets, lockers, drawers or even your clothes hook are perfect sources for your lice to crawl over to the untouched areas.

So, immediately ask your child to separate out anything like hats, coats, scarves, overcoats, etc and manage them their own space for these things. By doing this, at least the lice would not be able to affect another person

Please note that these instructions are equally applicable for adult parents

Other important lice prevention tips

  1. Try washing your daily use items like your clothes, bedding and other clothing types in warmer temperature of the water, ideally above 130 degrees Fahrenheit. This would kill any budding lice
  2. Similarly, hot wash your hairbrushes and combs for 10-15 minutes regularly, at least once a week
  3. Take out all your rugs, cleans and carpets in your home and wash them too in hotter waters.
  4. Never ignore your head-scratching or itching for the first time and take steps from day one before lice grow out in numbers.

Treating dandruff: how to keep dandruff away permanently?

Dandruff treatment at home

Just like lice treatment options, there are medicated shampoo treatments for dandruff too which can effectively slow down flaking of your scalp and curing fungal infections.

Any dandruff shampoo should be looked for these chemicals when you go out there to find out good anti-dandruff shampoo treatment.

The most common ingredients of shampoo are

  • Selenium sulfide
  • Coal tar
  • Ketoconazole and
  • salicylic acid

Try using this anti-dandruff shampoo for at least 2-3 times a week for effective treatment and prevention of dandruff.

Best natural remedies for dandruff at home

natural remedies for dandruff at home

While there is effective medical shampoo treatment for lice, but you don’t always look to over the counter solutions to combat a common problem like dandruff.

There are many kitchen ingredients that can treat your dandruff with the same effect as your medicated treatments and since they are readily available at home, these pure natural remedies sometimes can be more readily useable.

The following are some of the best natural remedies to treat dandruff at home without having to visit your near medical store.

1. Aloe Vera for dandruff

Aloe vera for dandruff

Aloe vera a go-to remedy for most of the body and skin treatments due to its amazing properties like its strongly anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal which is enough to keep any sort of dandruff in check.

For skin treatments, it is a strong moisturizer and very efficiently soothes skin problems like burns, psoriasis and severe cold sores.

Many studies have found it to be helpful against a range of fungal species which implies it can cure a lot of scalp problems like hair loss. However, further and more solid research needs to be done to establish more credibility.

2. Increase your body’s Omega-3s for dandruff

omega 3 for dandruff

Omega 3 fatty acids are really powerful nutrients of our bodies that serve a whole lot of body functions like your heart health, immune system health and your overall skin wellbeing.

An Omega-3s deficient body can be affected with low oil production, low hydration of bodies and premature aging levels.

Similarly, its deficiency directly relates to your skin and scalp health which manifests itself in the form of hair dryness, skin dryness and obviously this lays perfect ground of attack of dandruff.

So, in short, Omega-3 fatty acids can effectively curb inflammation which can set you free of any irritation or dandruff symptoms.

Rich sources of Omega-3 fatty acids

  • Salmon
  • Trout
  • Mackerel
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Or a good fish oil supplement

3. Baking Soda for dandruff

baking soda for dandruff

You might be using baking soda day in day out but perhaps you would never have thought that it can sort out a very common issue of dandruff too.

Why it is effective?

  • It is a mild exfoliant that can help remove your dead skin cells and reduce persistent itching and flaking or scaling of your skin.
  • Baking soda has strong anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties which have been known to be an effective remedy against any sort of dandruff

It’s believed to act as a gentle exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and reduce scaling and itchiness.

To make the best use of baking soda for dandruff, always apply baking soda directly on your wet hairs when you enter into bath and gently massage it all over your scalp.

There on, let it be as it is for 2-3 minutes and then you can use your normal shampoo. 

For best results, try applying baking soda directly to wet hair and massaging it into your scalp. Let it sit for a minute or two, then continue shampooing your hair as usual.

4. Coconut oil for dandruff

coconut oil for dandruff

Coconut oil for dandruff treatment is another powerful anti-dandruff treatment that you need to take notice of.

Why it is effective?

  • It is an excellent and powerful moisturizer and hydrates your skin to discourage the growth of dandruff.
  • It has been linked with strong anti-fungal anti-microbial properties which directly concern with the growth of dandruff and suppress eczema

5. Tea tree oil for dandruff

Tea tree oil for dandruff

Tea tree oil is a very popular essential oil that comes from the Melaleuca alternifolia plant. Historically, people have been using tea tree oil to treat a number of skin & body conditions, such as acne, athlete’s foot, and dermatitis.

Why it is an effective anti-dandruff remedy?

Tea tree oil contains a compound called terpinen-4-ol, which is known for powerful antimicrobial properties. So tea tree oils having high concentrations of terpinen-4-ol may help treat dandruff by suppressing the growth of dandruff-causing fungi and bacteria on the scalp.

Research evidence:

2018 study examined the bacterial mix of 140 Indian women’s scalps and found that women with dandruff had more Staphylococcus epidermidis (S. epidermidis) bacteria than those without dandruff.

In another study i.e a review from 2017 examined the antimicrobial effects of various types of essential oils. The authors ended up concluding that the compounds in tea tree oil may effectively control S. epidermidis bacteria.

A bit of caution:

Applying tea tree oil directly on the scalp can cause inflammation or rashes, so people looking to use tea tree oil option to treat dandruff can start by adding a few drops of it to their regular hair shampoo.

Alternatively, shampoos containing tea tree oil are available in some drug stores and online.

6. Lemongrass oil for dandruff

Lemongrass oil for dandruff

Traditionally, people have been using lemongrass and lemongrass oil to treat various digestive issues, low blood pressure, and minimize stress.

Just like tea tree oil, Lemongrass oil also has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help significantly reduce dandruff symptoms.

Research evidence:

According to a small study conducted in 2015, hair tonics containing about 10 percent lemongrass oil significantly reduced dandruff up to 81 percent after two weeks of time.

However, just like tea tree oil, lemongrass oil may lead to irritation or allergic reactions if a person layers it directly on the skin.

To reduce the risk of any serious allergic reactions, people can dilute lemongrass oil with water or add up a few drops into their regular shampoo or conditioner.

5. Apple cider vinegar for dandruff

Apple cider vinegar for dandruff

Like its long range of other health benefits, it can be used as an effective anti-dandruff strategy too.

  • The high acidity level apple cider vinegar triggers the shedding and falling down of dead skin cells and thus preventing dandruff
  • It is a great PH balance of the skin which easily fights off any sort of dandruff-causing fungus.

How to use it?

Don’t directly apply apple cider vinegar to your skin rather, add a few tablespoons of it to your daily shampoo or any other hair oil and then apply directly onto your hair and scalp.

If you’d like to give apple cider vinegar a try, add a few tablespoons to your shampoo or combine it with other essential oils and spray directly onto hair.

6. Controlling your stress levels can help dandruff

stress control can help your dandruff

You might wonder, what the hell my stress levels have to do with dandruff. But to your surprise, there is definitely a link according to 

While obviously there is no direct linkage between stress and dandruff, but what you need to know is that it can exacerbate symptoms like itching and dryness which directly relates to your dandruff on the head.

Moreover, a prolonged period of stress badly affects the activity level of your immune system which can diminish your body’s capacity to fight off new fungal infections and other related skin conditions which are directly responsible for promoting dandruff.

According to one study of Healthline which involved people suffering from dermatitis, more than 80% of people were found to have stressful life events.

How to control stress?

There are many easy to do stress control strategies like meditation, deep breathing aromatherapy and yoga which can be effective in getting your stress under control.

7. Try medication like Aspirin

Aspirin for dandruff controle

A drug like aspirin could be another source of surprise for you as a home remedy for dandruff but it is actually true.

Like I have mentioned for a number of times, anything which fights off fungus is one of the best recipes for fighting dandruff and the same is true for Aspirin.

An acid named Salicylic acid is a major component of aspirin and no doubt it has strong anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties.

 Also, by virtue of these properties, it helps you fight against dandruff and other skin concerns by scaling, flaking and loosening of skin which can be removed by then easily.

That’s why if you have carefully read the common ingredients of a common shampoo, you would find salicylic acid mentioned there. Salicylic acid works by helping get rid of scaly skin and loosening flakes so that they can be removed.

According to a study lasting for 4 weeks, in Healthline, those people who were using a shampoo containing salicylic acid in it were more effective in dealing with the severity of skin scaling and hence dandruff than other shampoos that contain other than salicylic acid.

How to use it?

To use it as an effective anti-dandruff treatment, crush two simple tablets of aspirin and add the resulting powder to your shampoo and then wash your hair normally.

8. Try out Zinc for dandruff

zinc for dandruff

Zinc is a very important mineral that helps maintains the healthy body’s immune system and promotes cell growth. We get zinc from animal proteins, nuts, and whole grains.

Research evidence:

According to a study by the NIH, severe zinc deficiencies have been linked with hair loss, diarrhea, impotence, and skin lesions.

IN another comprehensive review from 2016 found zinc deficiency as a potent contributing factor for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.

That’s why many dandruff shampoos contain zinc pyrithione because it simply prevents fungal growth and removes away excess skin cells from the scalp.

9. Include a lot of vitamins & minerals in diet

Minerals and vitamins for dandruff

Food actually has dominant effects on the body. Food may not be the root cause of dandruff, but it may make any problematic symptoms worse.

While there is currently little research on how food aggravates dandruff. However, a growing body of research is supporting an association between diet and inflammatory skin disorders, such as seborrheic dermatitis.

So since fruits and vegetables contain a lot of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that may significantly help reduce inflammation.

Research evidence:

According to an observational study involving 4,379 people found that people who reported eating a lot more fruits & vegetables were less likely to have seborrheic dermatitis.

The results also found that typical Western diets may actually increase the risk of seborrheic dermatitis in females.

Moreover, a  2018 review found that a biotin deficiency could lead to several skin disorders like seborrheic dermatitis. Biotin or also called vitamin B7, plays a crucial role in supporting healthy hair, nails, and skin.

These are biotin-rich foods include:

  • liver
  • egg yolks
  • nuts
  • salmon
  • nutritional yeast

10. Include a lot of Probiotics in your diet

probiotics food for dandruff

What are Probiotics anyway?

They are a type of beneficial bacteria that are good for your health.There are many potential probiotic benefits, including protection against allergies, lower cholesterol levels and increased weight loss.

Moreover, probiotics can also boost your immune function, which could aid the body fight against the fungal infections that cause dandruff. In fact, one study found that taking probiotics regularly for 56 days significantly minimized the dandruff severity in 60 people.

Furthermore, probiotics have also been shown to suppress the symptoms of skin conditions like eczema and dermatitis, especially in infants and children.

While probiotics are readily available in supplement form for a quick and convenient dose. However, they are more commonly found in many types of fermented foods, such as kombucha, kimchi, tempeh, sauerkraut, and natto.

Dandruff prevention: How to keep it permanently away?

How to prevent dandruff?

Follow the below tips to effectively fight dandruff before it reaches you. They say, prevention is better than cure and this is true for dandruff too.

  • Don’t try to scratch your scalp while you are applying shampoo. Rather a gentle massage it with your shampoo
  • Try to wash your hair at least thrice a week minimum and rinse out all the shampoo in your hair by proper squeezing your hair. After that brush your hair gently and do it regularly to avoid getting debris stuck into your hair.
  • Avoid any such harsh chemicals which are common in hair coloring products and easily strip off useful bacteria from your scalp which fight dandruff causing yeasts.
  • Always be moderate in your use of hair products like gels, sprays which can gradually build up in your scalp to cause dandruff. Rather make a habit to use more and more natural products for your hair.
  • Always sun protect yourself wherever you are. UV rays of the sun can damage both the skin of the scalp and your body which can indirectly lead to dandruff. For that, use a broad SPF to take care of most of the sun damage.
  • If you are a dry skin person, you can try sleeping with a humidifier in your room to keep your scalp from extremely drying up

Nits vs dandruff: what are differences?

Nits vs dandruff: differences

Now you know the difference between lice and dandruff very well, it’s time to know a thing or two about nits, which are basically the eggs of lice and how are different from dandruff.

Difference 1: different location and attachment

Nits are primarily glued to your hair shafts while dandruff is related and attached to your scalp of the head.

Difference 2: different colors of both

Nits are generally whitish or yellowish in color overall when they are empty but they are greyish or black when they are pure eggs but dandruff’s color remains either yellowish or whitish throughout their period.

Difference 3: different size and appearance 

While Nits are tiny, hard to observe white specs, however, dandruff has thick yellowish flakes of scalp skin, very visible even from a distance.

Difference 4: a different leading cause of both

While nits are tiny eggs of adult lice, hence they are caused and produced from adults lice, not a thing of their own. On the other hand, dandruff is caused by a common skin condition called eczema or seborrheic dermatitis.

Dandruff commonly occurs either because of the overproduction of sebum or extreme dryness of head scalp skin.

Dandruff vs Dry scalp: Differences and similarities

Dandruff vs dry scalp: differences and similarities

Another very closely related concern with dandruff is a dry scalp. When you have it you might suspect, it could be dandruff but not necessarily.

Dandruff vs Dry Scalp: Differences

People often wonder what is the exact difference between both, because both are the cause of each other. Interesting!

Difference 1: Different underlying reasons

The main underlying reasons for a dry scalp are 

  1. cold or dry air causing extreme moisture loss
  2. Your beauty products like hair sprays, gels, etc causing build-up 
  3. Your older age could be a factor too 

As a result of these symptoms, your scalp loses all its moisture and your skin starts to flake off.

On the other hand, dandruff in your head is caused primarily by a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis which turns your skin type into flaky and scaly.

Difference 2: Different appearance and size

There is another crucial difference between the two. While dry scalp has very tiny flakes of your scalp skin but this is not the case with dandruff which has thickish and scaly skin scratches that are clearly visible from the distance either on your head surface or your shoulders.

Difference 3: Both cause a different level of dryness on your body

While the condition of dandruff is mainly concerned with your scalp, the only place where it occurs, but this is not the case with dry scalp. 

Rather dry scalp implies in the bigger picture, that your other body parts other than your scalp could also be suffering from dryness which needs your separate attention too. 

Dandruff vs Dry scalp: Similarities

While there are some clear differences between the two, there are some closely related similarities which sometimes can make them indistinguishable at first sight.

Similarity 1: Both can cause dryness and are caused by it

Dry scalp, as the name indicates, is known by extremely dry scalp surface and this is the case with dandruff too. It is one of the major symptoms of dandruff because scaling and flaking of the skin can lead to extreme dryness in your head in the end.

Similarity 2: Both cause intense itching

This is another similarity between the two as both are known to cause an intense sensation of itching which can want you to scratch your head more and more which is not advisable as it would further aggravate both conditions.

How to tell if you have lice or dandruff in your head?


Q: How do you know if its lice or dandruff?

Ans: To comfortably tell if you have lice or dandruff, you need to remember these differences between the two.
1. Lice and dandruff have a different location; while lice are mainly attached to your hair shafts, dandruff flakes are attached to your scalp skin
2. The color of lice is generally brown to gray, while the color of dandruff is either whitish or yellowish.
3. While lice are contagious and can be easily transmitted from one source to another, dandruff is not. It only concerned with different individuals who are suffering from a common skin condition called eczema or seborrheic dermatitis.
4. Both lice and dandruff are different in terms of their degree of harms: lice are something serious and you need to take care of them seriously and treat them before they can cause severe infections.

On the other hand, dandruff is generally harmless and is temporary and does not need specialized anti-infectious treatment.

Q: What can be mistaken for lice?

Ans: Lice can sometimes be easily mistaken for dandruff but there are clear differences between the two. This could be due to the following similarities between lice and dandruff.
Similarity 1: Both can cause severe itching
Similarity 2: Both can have white specs or flakes on your scalp

Q: Why is my head so itchy but I don’t have lice or dandruff?

Ans: If your head is itching and you are sure that you don’t have either of these, then this could be due to dry scalp which is also known for itching. 
This is important because there are a lot of similarities between dry scalp, dandruff, and lice. Moreover, the similarities between dry scalp and dandruff are more pronounced and one can often be confused with others which you need to know.
Similarities between dry scalp and dandruff are:
Similarity 1: Dry scalp and dandruff are caused by dryness of skin
Similarity 2: Both dandruff and dry scalp cause intense itching

Q: Is dandruff Contagious?

Ans: No, dandruff is not contagious at all. However, it is left untreated, it can get worse as the fungus causing yeast increase in numbers. So you need to treat dandruff quickly if you don’t want to face serious complications in the near future.

Work cited:

  1. “What is the difference between lice and dandruff” by Healthline
  2. “9 home remedies to get rid of dandruff naturally” by Healthline

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