When people think of dandruff, they usually connect it to falling flakes they’d prefer not to have. But what they see and feel just may not be dandruff. There are other scalp problems that have the same signs but may require very different treatment. Here, BlackHairScience.com offers some basic info on how to correctly identify this irksome scalp condition.

Even the best products may not help if another scalp issue is responsible for head-itching discomfort. For example, simple dry scalp is often confused with dandruff, even though it has completely different causes. Dry scalp can be triggered by over shampooing hair (often with sulfate-based products), weather changes and washing with too-hot water. In addition, relaxers, hair dyes and heat-based styling can often contribute to a dry, itchy scalp. Also, another thing to consider is diet and water intake.

Another scalp issue that is often mistaken for dandruff is caused by product buildup. This occurs when too much of a certain product—often conditioner—builds up in layers on the scalp. Buildup of this type can cause a flaky, itchy mess once your mane and the product dries. To eliminate this trauma, try a do-it-yourself scalp cleanse.

Other scalp conditions that mimic dandruff include psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, skin conditions which can present with very similar symptoms. But these conditions do differ slightly from dandruff. For example, psoriasis also tends to appear on the knees, elbows and other parts of the body.

How to get an accurate diagnosis of your flake-y troubles? Well, a quick visit to the dermatologist will help you confirm if your dandruff just may be something else.

Click here to read about what exactly causes dandruff.