Dandruff In Babies – Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment

Dandruff In Babies

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Babies have soft skin and scalp when they are born. This tenderness remains for about a year. Meanwhile, if you see flakes or dandruff on baby’s scalp, it may bother you. But, there is no need to panic! Even though dandruff is uncommon in babies, it is harmless and simple remedies can address this issue. MomJunction helps you know the causes and ways to treat the dandruff problem in babies.

Causes For Dandruff In Babies

Dandruff is a mild or un-inflamed form of seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea. It is rare in babies and mostly shows up during puberty. It would be at its peak during teenage and decreases in adulthood. Many times, it could be an indication of poor hygiene.

The main causes of dandruff in babies include an overproduction of sebum or skin oil, or overgrowth of a fungus called Malassezia, which may cause the skin cells on the scalp to shed quickly. In this case, you may notice gray or white flakes on your baby’s head (1).

[ Read: Cradle Cap In Babies ]

Signs Of Dandruff In Babies

Seborrhea or dandruff is visible in the form of dry, flaky, white, or scaly skin that could be itchy. It is found in greasy or oily areas of scalp with mild redness associated with temporary hair loss.

Are The Scales On Baby’s Head Only Due To Dandruff?

Scales on baby’s head or body may not be due dandruff always! If the skin on your baby’s scalp is scaling and flaking, it may be due to many reasons other than dandruff, such as:

  • Sunburn on the scalp: – This risk can be avoided by limiting your baby’s exposure to the sun or having him wear a hat.
  • Using excess shampoo and not rinsing well during a wash: – The dried shampoo can show up like flakes and may resemble dandruff. This can be avoided by spending more time in rinsing than lathering and using a dime-size dollop of shampoo.
  • Shampooing less often causes oils and skin cells to accumulate on the scalp, thereby giving the flaky structure.
  • Atopic dermatitis (eczema) or psoriasis may cause scaling, by making the skin dry. At times, it may not be easy to differentiate between normal dandruff and eczema.
  • The cold, dry winter air may also cause flakes.
  • Cradle cap is another cause in babies less than one-year-old (2).
  • Ringworm, caused by a fungus, may also be a reason for flaking and hair loss in babies.
  • Lice cause scratching, itching, and flaking, though it is not very common in babies.

It is important to rule out the cause for flaking to proceed with the right dandruff treatment for babies. Visit your doctor for assistance if you suspect that your little one has dandruff. Do not delay if the baby itches a lot and has itchy scales, red areas, and oozing in the scalp. In severe cases of eczema, cradle cap, and ringworm, the baby’s doctor may suggest medication to get rid of any fungal infection.

[ Read: Top 10 Baby Hair Oils ]

How To Get Rid Of Baby Dandruff?

Once it is confirmed that your baby has dandruff, follow these steps to get rid of it.

  • Brush the baby’s dry hair to remove large and visible flakes of dandruff before shampooing.
  • Use a regular baby shampoo to wash the baby’s hair every day. Mild dandruff can be easily removed this way.
  • For severe dandruff, use medicated dandruff shampoo recommended by a paediatrician. Use once or twice a week depending on the severity of dandruff and doctor’s prescription.
  • When washing the baby’s hair, gently use fingers to massage the scalp and build a good lather. Rinse with water thoroughly. Do not use any conditioners.
  • Pat-dry the baby’s head with a towel.
  • If the baby is prone to dandruff, then you must maintain the normal pH of the scalp, and an oil-free scalp mostly addresses the problem.
  • The doctor may prescribe anti-fungal scalp lotion or cream for the baby.

[ Read: Tips To Prevent Hair Fall In Babies ]


1. Is dandruff contagious?

Dandruff that causes yellowish or white flaky skin is not dangerous or contagious, but can be unsightly and itchy.

2. What is cradle cap? How is it different from dandruff in babies?

The dry scaly scalp is referred to as cradle cap or infantile seborrheic dermatitis. It is extremely common in babies aged more than three months (3). Cradle cap can cause dandruff as the skin flakes off besides showing yellowish crusty patches on the scalp. According to the American Association of Pediatrics, the problem can be outgrown by most babies or can be treated using olive oil as its hydrating properties act as a natural remedy in healing cradle cap.

[ Read: 10 Best Baby Shampoos ]

On the bottom line, mild dandruff is manageable at home with simple remedies. However, persistent or severe forms of psoriasis, eczema, and cradle cap require medical attention. Making note of the severity of occurrence will help your doctor in understanding the little one’s situation well. Remember that your little one deserves a healthy scalp, and you are in charge!

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