Lice vs Dandruff – What’s The Difference and How to Treat them?

Are you having an itchy scalp? Itchy scalp can be because of one of the two most common reasons for itchy scalp, that is, Dandruff and Lice.

Lice and dandruff are two of the most common reason to get an itchy scalp. If you are having either one of these conditions, then it can be uncomfortable as well as embarrassing. And it is important that you treat your scalp as quickly as possible before the matter gets out of your hands and the situation worsens.

But how to know if the itchy scalp is because of lice or dandruff?

There is a lot of differences between these two conditions which are discussed below in detail.

Lice Vs Dandruff 

Lice Vs Dandruff 


Lice VS Dandruff, both are completely different conditions that affect the scalp. Although their symptoms can be a bit similar, these two conditions are caused by different factors.

  • Lice 

Lice are a small contagious parasite that lives on the scalp and feed from human blood. Lice are similar to that of the parasite that animals have called flea. Lice come in three forms or stages, which are:

  1. eggs also called nits are tiny white specks on the scalp
  2. nymphs or young adults lice are small, tan-coloured insects that hatch from nits
  3. adult lice are still extremely small, about the size of sesame seed is full-sized parasites that crawl on the scalp
  • Dandruff 

Dandruff is also called seborrheic dermatitis is a self-contained scalp condition that causes flaky skin or scales on your scalp. Dandruff is not contagious and you can’t catch dandruff from anyone else. It is a skin condition that tends to be hereditary.

The difference in the Symptoms of Lice VS Dandruff 

The difference in the Symptoms of Lice VS Dandruff 


These conditions of the scalp can be easily noticeable due to the symptoms they cause. Itching is the most common symptom associated with both conditions. Lice feed on human blood and live near the scalp. The saliva of the insect irritates the scalp and causes itching. If the scalp is very dry, dandruff may become itchy as well.

Symptoms of Head Lice 

  • Movement on the scalp
  • Nits and egg on the hair shaft
  • The sudden urge of itching

Symptoms of Dandruff 

  • White specks on the scalp
  • White scalp that is oily and scaly
  • White specks fall out when scratching the scalp

Symptoms Common in Both 

  • Itching
  • White Specks on the scalp

What Causes Head Lice? 

We have already told you what do lice look like. Now, we will tell you about the causes of head lice. Read along to know the details.

Lice are parasitic insects that crawl on the scalp. Head lice are easily spreadable to others through close contact. Lice can transfer by crawling onto:

  • Clothing
  • Bedding
  • Towels
  • Personal items like combs, hairbrushes, hats, and hair accessories

It is very easy to transfer head lice from a family member who has them or anyone you have close contact with.

What Causes Dandruff?

Dandruff is a non-transferable, non-contagious, non-inflammatory skin condition. Overly dry or greasy skin, skin yeast and certain genetic factors are common causes to have dandruff. Dandruff usually affects teens and young adults, but older adults and toddlers can also have flaky scalp.

Cradle cap is another common type of dandruff that is mostly seen in newborns and babies. This particular condition only affects the top part of the head, hence the name, Cradle cap.

How to Treat These Conditions? – Lice Vs Dandruff 

There are various ways you can treat these conditions. We will discuss the method separately for a clearer understanding.

How to Treat Lice? 

How to Treat Lice? 


  • Prescribed Shampoo 

Treatment of head lice can be done in the form of medicated shampoo. Shampoos containing permethrin and pyrethrin are used to kill lice and nits and can be used by adults and children over 2 years of age. it is advised to use the medicated shampoo at least three times at intervals of 7-10 days to make sure all the lice and nits are dead.

  • Medication 

Some medications are designed specially to treat the problems with lice. Common OTC is for lice  treatment are:

  1. pyrethrins, OTC
  2. permethrin lotion, OTC
  3. benzyl alcohol lotion, prescription
  4. ivermectin lotion, prescription
  5. malathion lotion, prescription
  6. Spinosad, topical suspension
  • Home Treatment 

The presence of lice needs a little more work around the house to ensure that all small insects and their eggs are eradicated. You need to wash clothes, towels and bed linen in very hot water and dry over high heat. Vacuum furniture and carpets and vacuum stuffed animals.

How to Treat Dandruff? 

Dandruff is caused by excessive skin shedding. You can use many shampoos to slow this process naturally. Shampoos with coal tar, salicylic acid, ketoconazole or selenium sulfide are better used for the treatment of dandruff. Use shampoos with these ingredients every day to control severe dandruff or weekly to treat minor symptoms.

Read more interesting articles at Global Blogging

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