The haircare advertisements and products lining the shelves would make one believe that dandruff is a very adult issue. But, in actuality, many kids face this problem. Often, newborns, toddlers and young children seem to suffer from this. There are different ways to attend to newborn dandruff and toddler dandruff. Here, we will discuss how to identify, fight and prevent flare-ups of dandruff in toddlers and kids.
What is Dandruff and How to Identify it?
Dandruff is actually a build-up of dead skin cells. Shedding some dead cells is a normal procedure for the skin. But when you see them as white or yellow flakes or patches, there is a problem. There is no singular reason for this build-up.
If your toddler or child has dandruff, you will notice the following symptoms:
- Lots of itching and irritation.
- Red rashes around the ears, forehead, particularly the hairline, eyebrow and the scalp.
- Oily yellow and white patches on the usual areas mentioned above. They may also turn up on the skin above and below the nose, chest, underarms and groin.
- Skin dryness.
- Alopecia or temporary hair loss.
You may see flakes on hair, scalp and on your child’s clothing. You will find your kid scratching a lot too.
Home Remedies for Toddler Dandruff
For years some home remedies have remained popular. They are easily available, safe on the baby skin and quite effective for a mild problem.
Some oils are more effective with a massage on the scalp.
- Tea tree oil: Shampoos with tea tree oil are good to fight dandruff. Tea tree oil can help dandruff-related rashes too.
- Coconut oil: Virgin coconut oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Massaging with coconut oil is safe on the skin too.
- Olive oil: Massaging and leaving olive oil overnight on the scalp has proven a good remedy for dandruff.
- Lemongrass oil: You can apply this along with a carrier oil on the scalp and leave for some time before washing off.
Some easily available kitchen ingredients are good at relieving the issue.
- Lemon juice: Diluted with water, this is a great product to fight dandruff. Just be careful of any itching scratches that may sting.
- Holy basil/Papaya and Yoghurt: Here the acidity comes from the yoghurt to act on dandruff.
- Egg, Honey and Yoghurt: Along with fighting dandruff, this paste will nourish the scalp too.
- Ginger: Some shampoos with ginger extract seem to reduce the problem drastically.
- Baking soda: The exfoliating property of baking soda paste will soak oil, remove flakes and fight fungal growth. Apply a few minutes before washing.
Other natural products
Some natural extracts are known for their medicinal properties. They are good for scalp and haircare too.
- Aloe vera: The pulp acts as a mild cleanser and is effective in clearing away dandruff. It may need repeated use initially.
- Neem leaf: Boiled and cooled neem leaf water has anti-infection properties. This makes it a great choice to combat dandruff.
Mild baby shampoos and medicated shampoos, along with some do’s and don’ts, are enough to clear off your child’s dandruff. If these remedies don’t work or if the affliction is severe, you need to visit your dermatologist or paediatrician. Rush to the expert if there are pus formations or bleeding.
Your doctor may recommend one of the following, in severe cases.
- Antifungal cream
- Steroid cream
- Shampoo with salicylic acid
- Shampoo with ketoconazole
- Shampoo containing tar
- Shampoo containing sulphur
- Shampoo with selenium sulphide
- Shampoo with zinc pyrithione
How to Treat Toddler Dandruff
There are some points you must keep in mind when you start the treatment of dandruff for your toddler. This age is neither too docile to handle nor wise enough to understand the issue. Your consistent approach will matter a lot. Here are some dos and don’ts you have to remember.
To shampoo or not to shampoo
Some parents have reported that reducing bathing has reduced scalp irritation. Yet dermatologists recommend frequent washing of scalp and hair. You may ask your doctor for advice. In general, if your toddler is an outgoing child, there may be dust and grime stuck to the hair and scalp. Cleaning off is a wise option.
Brush before as well as during washing
Use a soft-bristled brush to loosen the flakes before washing. Apply the shampoo and lather up using the soft brush. The chunks of skin build-up will start coming off.
Take care of hydration
If your toddler is not a great drinker, lure them with juices and flavoured water. Hydration will play an important role in this treatment.
Proper nutrition, avoiding allergies
Leafy vegetables and a balanced diet will take care of the health of hair and scalp. Limit intake of food with yeast and fungi including cheese and bread.
Right hair care products
Use mild, medicated shampoos and products recommended by the dermatologist. Don’t experiment with any harmful or fancy products.
Causes of Toddler Dandruff
The experts cite various causes for dandruff. It differs according to individual conditions.
- Genetic disposition
- Oily skin
- Seasonal changes
- Allergic reactions
- Fungal infection – Malassezia
- Seborrhoea dermatitis
- Eczema and Psoriasis
- Poor hygiene
Heredity, hygiene and skin conditions can all contribute to this condition. Using shampoos and treatment processes for some time will reduce the problem. Use according to individual need – twice a week or alternate days or maybe once a month. If there are related problems along with dandruff such as diarrhoea, inform your doctor about it.
Remember, dandruff is not some disease and it doesn’t cure completely. You can only keep the symptoms under control. With proper care, the problem won’t even get noticed.
ALSO READ: All About Head Lice: A Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids’ Hair Clean
How to Get Shiny Hair for Toddlers: A Guide for Parents