How to Get Dandruff Out of Children's Hair

shampooing
A child in a tub washes her hair. (Image: Renata Osinska/Hemera/Getty Images)

Dandruff is caused by the overgrowth of a fungus on the scalp called malassezia. This fungus causes the skin cells to shed abnormally. When scalp oil clumps the white flakes together, dandruff becomes noticeable. Although uncommon until puberty and the teen years, dandruff is sometimes present in young children. Even though dandruff in children is unsightly, it does not usually signal a serious medical problem and can be remedied at home.

Step 1

Brush your child’s hair right before shampooing it to get rid of any noticeable flakes.

Step 2

Wash with a medicated shampoo that has salicylic acid or tar in it two times a week. This will reduce scaling and allow the medication to work on the scalp. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist to double check that the shampoo you choose is safe for a child’s use.

Step 3

Clean hair with a regular child’s shampoo on days when you are not using medicated shampoo. This should be done until dandruff subsides.

Step 4

Skip the conditioner. Be sure that a child who has begun to style her own hair avoids oily and greasy hair products. These can exacerbate dandruff symptoms.

Step 5

Eliminate stress from a child’s life, because it can provoke scalp conditions like dandruff. Be present in your child’s life, keeping the lines of communication open. Consider learning relaxation methods together such as yoga or breathing exercises.

Things You'll Need

  • Brush

  • Medicated shampoo containing salicylic acid or tar

  • Regular mild shampoo

Tip

Because it can help promote healthy skin, the Children Youth and Women’s Health Service suggests adding more zinc to your child’s diet. Natural sources include fish, soybeans, meat, egg yolks, whole grains and sunflower seeds.

Sunshine can help remedy dandruff symptoms, so allow your child to spend some time outside. Because the sun’s rays can cause damage to the skin, be sure to apply sunscreen to your child's skin and have her return back inside before she develops a tan.

Warning

Since dandruff is not common in young children, it's important to monitor the condition carefully. If dandruff is accompanied by scales, extreme redness of the scalp, hair loss, swollen glands or oozing, consult your child's health care practitioner. These symptoms could be the sign of a serious medical condition such as ringworm, psoriasis or eczema.

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