A common misconception is that dandruff is a result of a dry, flaky scalp. Although that's true, dandruff can also happen to an irritated, oily scalp. To treat dandruff for an oily scalp, look for shampoos that contain salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione or coal tar [source: Mayo Clinic: Dandruff].
Oily Scalp Treatments
The math seems simple: An oily scalp leads to oily hair. But if you're fighting excessive oiliness on your scalp, relief might be as close as your shower. One of the most readily available treatments comes in the form of a cream or medicated shampoo. When shopping, look for shampoos containing ingredients such as coal tar, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide or salicylic acid.
Curious as to how these medicated products can cut down the oil production on your scalp? Those with coal tar and selenium sulfide work to slow down the death and regeneration of skin cells on your scalp [source: Mayo Clinic: Dandruff]. These ingredients might also help to reduce inflammation and itching. Sometimes a fungus on your scalp can contribute to excessive oily conditions, and products with selenium sulfide or zinc pyrithione can also help to control any oiliness caused by fungi. Products containing salicylic acid, which is commonly used in treatments for acne caused by oily skin, will reduce the amount of oil on your scalp.
Once you've selected your product, make sure you work the cream or shampoo into your scalp. These treatments work only if they are on your scalp, so give some extra attention to working the medication all the way up to your skin. Once you've built up a good lather, let the product sit for three to five minutes before rinsing it out thoroughly [source: Mayo Clinic: Seborrheic]. Because some agents that reduce scalp oiliness could dry out your hair, you might want to follow up with a conditioner on the ends of your hair to add back moisture.
If your scalp problem is on the opposite end of the spectrum and a lack of oil is what's bothering you, then read on to find out how to treat dry scalp.