Dandruff In Kids: Causes, Treatment And Home Remedies

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Dandruff in kids is a common skin condition that causes tiny, white flakes to shed off from the scalp. These tiny flakes are dead cells that fall off from the uppermost layer of the skin (1). Though common in children, dandruff, also called seborrheic dermatitisiXA skin condition characterized by redness, dryness, and scaly patches on the scalp. , can affect infants, teens, and adults. The global prevalence of seborrheic dermatitis is estimated to be around 3-5%, according to the National Eczema Association. However, the prevalence of dandruff was higher in the United States and Sub-Saharan Africa, according to the reports of a study conducted by multiple institutions. Generally, children with oily skin tend to get more dandruff than dry skin (2). Pediatric seborrheic dermatitis doesn’t cause any serious problems, but it can cause an itchy and flaky scalp in kids, which can be bothersome. Hence, prompt children’s scalp treatment is vital to alleviate itching and avert dandruff-related hair problems. So, keep reading to explore more about dandruff in children, its causes, symptoms, treatment, and effective home remedies you can try.

In This Article

Possible Causes Of Dandruff In Children

A fungus named Malassezia could cause dandruff.

Image: IStock

Dandruff can occur at any age, and the exact cause is unknown. Here are some observations with regard to dandruff in children.

  1. Dandruff, a common children’s scalp condition, often begins during adolescence. Doctors believe it is due to the increase in hormones during the teenage years (3). The rise in hormones leads to excess production of sebum or oil, which could cause dandruff.
  1. According to the University of Michigan, eczema, a skin condition, could increase shedding of skin from the scalp, thus causing dandruff (4).
  1. A fungal infection could also lead to dandruff. A fungus named Malassezia is quite commonly associated with it (5).
  1. If the child has dry skin, then it could make the child more prone to dandruff. Seasonal changes, like the winter, may worsen the child’s dry scalp and skin and cause dandruff (6).
  1. Contact dermatitis (a skin rash due to allergen or irritant), and infrequent shampooing are some factors that may cause dandruff (6).
  1. Child scalp psoriasis is a chronic condition that is characterized by red, scaly plaques and causes the child’s scalp to flake with intense itching or burning sensations.
  1. Some other factors that may increase the occurrence of dandruff include neurological problems, immune system problems, and stress.

protip_icon Did you know?
Boys are more likely to get dandruff compared to girls (15).

Some children may know they have dandruff due to falling flakes, while some may not. Symptoms of dandruff in kids vary from one to another.

Symptoms Of Dandruff In Children

Dry scalp is a symptom of dandruff in kids.

Image: IStock

The most common symptoms include (6):

  • Dry scalp
  • Itchy scalp in children
  • White flakes in children’s hair that fall on the shoulders
  • Itching may cause redness of the scalp
  • Hair loss (temporary) or child’s hair shedding
  • An oily area on the scalp
  • Scalp rash in kids

Dandruff in children is not contagious, which means a child cannot get dandruff from others.

Dandruff Treatment For Children

Wash hair frequently with a regular shampoo.

Image: IStock

Dandruff doesn’t harm the scalp. Taking care of a kid’s hair and scalp health is crucial to prevent discomfort caused by severe itchiness resulting from untreated dandruff. The following steps may help reduce dandruff.

  1. Washing hair frequently with a regular shampoo might help in removing the flakes.
  1. If this is not helping, then an over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo could help. Your child’s doctor may recommend an appropriate shampoo.
  1. If the doctor suspects fungus on the scalp, then they may recommend specialized anti-fungal, anti-dandruff shampoo (2).
  1. Shampoos with salicylic acidiXA chemical that aids in eliminating dead skin cells and excess oils and cleansing the scalp. can help reduce dandruff (7). Other compounds that could provide relief are selenium sulfideiXMedication or agent used to treat dandruff caused due to infections. , sulfur, zinc pyrithioneiXA chemical ingredient in shampoos, which helps manage dandruff associated with inflammation and skin irritation. , and tariXA component used in anti-dandruff shampoos and provides relief from dryness and itchiness of the scalp. (8). Consult a doctor before picking a shampoo with these compounds for your child.
protip_icon Quick fact
Tar shampoos are likely to discolor blonde hair or light-colored hair. They can also make your scalp more sensitive to sunlight (16).
Consult a doctor before picking a shampoo.

Image: IStock

Observing some non-medicinal methods at home can help provide relief to the child from dandruff.

Home Remedies To Prevent Dandruff In Children

Tea tree oil could be effective in treating dandruff.

Image: IStock

Some of the natural remedies for child’s hair and scalp maintenance that you may consider are:

  • According to a research study, 5% of tea tree oil could be effective in treating dandruff with no adverse effects. The study had participants who were 14-year-old and older (9).
  • Shampoos and conditioners containing aloe vera could reduce seborrheic dermatitis (10).
  • Children’s scalp massage with coconut oil may reduce the severity of dandruff.
  • Lemon juice or lemon juice mixed in coconut oil may also help in getting rid of dandruff (11).
  • You may also try a mixture of yogurt, egg yolks, and honey (12).
  • Ginger and Indian gooseberry are also considered effective in treating and preventing dandruff (13).

protip_icon Quick tip
When using oils for treating dandruff, remember to wash off the oil with shampoo after a certain duration. Otherwise oily hair may attract dirt and dust and worsen dandruff problems.

The efficacy of these remedies in curing dandruff among children is unknown as the studies were carried out on adults. However, you may try them as they may not be harmful to a child. Apply the substance on a small patch of the scalp to see if it suits your child. If the substance causes discomfort or scalp irritation in children, then wash it immediately.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is dandruff a sign of puberty?

Dandruff is not a sign of puberty. But it may start early during teens due to the high hormone levels, which causes more production of oil on the scalp.

2. Can dandruff go away on its own?

Dandruff may or may not go away on its own, depending on its severity. Also, it may or may not be possible to remove dandruff permanently. It might recur too.

3. Do I need to consult a doctor for dandruff?

Dandruff usually does not require doctor consultation. However, if the dandruff is severe, very itchy, causes redness of the scalp, or loss of hair, then you need to consult a doctor. You may see a doctor even without these severe symptoms.

4. How often should I wash my hair to control dandruff?

It is best to consult a doctor about the frequency of using medicated shampoos to control dandruff. In general, you may require to use such shampoos once or twice a week to wash your hair (15).

5. Will dandruff go away if I shave my head?

Dandruff is a scalp problem and involves itching and flaking in the scalp (17). Shaving hair may make dandruff less visible as the flakes won’t have hair to cling on, but it may provide little help to a scalp condition.

If your child has dandruff in their hair, do not worry, as it is not uncommon for children to have dandruff. In children, hormonal changes, fungal infections, dry skin, stress, eczema, etc., are common causes of dandruff. In addition, dandruff can cause issues with self-esteem in adolescents. It would be helpful if you could talk to your child’s doctor and find the root cause of dandruff in kids before deciding what shampoo to buy for them. Also, you can try some home remedies for your children’s scalp care after getting them approved by your doctor.

Infographic: Home Remedies To Prevent Dandruff In Children

Dandruff is a common condition that causes flaky, white, or yellowish skin on the scalp. While dandruff is not harmful, it can be embarrassing and frustrating for children who have it. Fortunately, several home remedies can help prevent dandruff. You will find a list of such home remedies in the following infographic.

natural tips to prevent dandruff in children (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Get high-quality PDF version by clicking below.

Download Infographic in PDF version Download Infographic
Download Infographic in PDF version

Key Pointers

  • Dandruff in children may be caused by hormonal changes, fungal infections, or skin-related conditions.
  • Dandruff can cause a dry, itchy scalp, white flakes on hair, and temporary hair loss.
  • A doctor may recommend frequent hair washing with antifungal or specialized shampoos to manage the condition.
  • A few popular home remedies for combating dandruff include coconut oil, lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, and neem leaf extract.


MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
1. What to do about your child’s dandruff; University of Utah
2. What is dandruff?; University Health Service: University of Michigan
3. Dandruff; The Nemours Foundation
4. Dandruff; Michigan Medicine
5. S. M. Rudramurthy et al.; Association of Malassezia species with dandruff; Indian Journal of Medical Research (2014)
6. Causes and Diagnoses of Dandruff; Northwestern Medicine
7. Salicylic Acid Shampoo; Nationwide Children’s
8. Dandruff; Brenner Children’s Wake Forest Baptist Health
9. A. C. Satchell et al.; Treatment of dandruff with 5% tea tree oil shampoo; Medref.se
10. M. I. Qadir; Medicinal and Cosmetological Importance of Aloe Vera; International Journal of Natural Therapy (2009)
11. Home Remedies of Dandruff; Jamaica Hospital Medical Center (2016)
12. Tips for healthy hair with natural remedies to get long, strong and shiny hair; AK Clinics (2017)
13. J. Y. Yu et al.; Preclinical and Clinical Studies Demonstrate That the Proprietary Herbal Extract DA-5512 Effectively Stimulates Hair Growth and Promotes Hair Health; Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (2017)
14. How to Get Rid of Dandruff: Causes, Treatment and Home Remedies; AK Clinics (2018)
15. Dandruff; raisingchildren.net.au
16. How to Treat Dandruff; American Academy of Dermatology
17. Luis J. Borda and Tongyu C. Wikramanayake; Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff: A Comprehensive Review; NCBI (2015)
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