Babies have delicate skin and scalp when they are born. This delicacy stays for about a year. In the meantime, if your little one scratches his hair or rub his head against your shoulder when you carry him and if you notice flakes or dandruff on his scalp, it can bother you. Although dandruff in children is very uncommon, but if it happens to your baby, there is no need to panic. Continue reading to know the causes, symptoms and simple remedies that help to deal with dandruff in babies.
What Is Dandruff?
Basically, dandruff is visible in the form of white tiny flakes that are mainly deposited in the scalp (it may as well appear on eyebrows or eyelids). It usually starts as scaling of the skin on the scalp. It is a mild form of a skin issue called seborrhea dermatitis. Though it is a minor issue, it can cause severe itchiness in the scalp and redness in the affected area. If not handled the right way, and can also lead to hair fall.
What Causes Dandruff In Babies?
In babies, dandruff appears because of many reasons. Some of them are:
- Overgrowth of fungus: Excessive growth of the fungus Malassezia can lead to excessive shedding of the dead cells. This, when mixed with the sebum or skin oil (produced by the hair follicles), results in dandruff
- Too much shampoo: Using too much shampoo too often on the scalp washes off the natural oil from the scalp and make it dry. Also, using chemical based products can result in a condition called contact dermatitis. If it occurs in the scalp, it can trigger dandruff formation
- Not shampooing often: If the skin of the scalp is not hygienically maintained, and if, dirt, sweat, and dead cells accumulate on the scalp, it can lead to dandruff formation
- Skin disorders: Skin disorders like eczema can cause scaly, dry, and cracked skin triggering dandruff issue
- Exposure to extreme heat: Over exposure to the sunlight (without covering the head with a cap or hat) adversely affects the skin on the scalp. This can trigger dandruff
- Atmospheric issue: Just like the extreme heat, atmospheric changes, like the winter season, affect the skin condition of the baby. The skin of the baby tends to become dry in winter. As the skin on the head is comparatively tender, it is adversely affected. The cold, dry, winter air may cause dry and white flakes on the scalp
- Excessive oil production: The overactive sebaceous gland produces more skin oil or sebum that and results in dandruff formation
What Are The Symptoms Of Dandruff In Babies?
Severe itching and the appearance of white flakes are the primary signs of dandruff. The skin of the forehead, face, and eyebrows tends to be dry. Temporary hair fall is another sign.
How To Get Rid Of Dandruff In Babies?
There are several ways to manage dandruff in babies. Maintaining the pH balance of the scalp is very important when it comes to dandruff treatment.
- Brush and shampoo: With a soft-bristled baby hairbrush, dry brush your baby’s hair. This will help to remove the dead skin flakes. After brushing the hair and removing the flakes, wash your baby’s hair with a mild shampoo. Mild dandruff attacks can be resolved by this simple step
- Use medicated shampoo: If mild baby shampoo is not working then there may be a need to use medicated anti dandruff baby shampoo on your baby’s scalp Depending on the severity, your doctor may advice to use it daily, alternate days, twice a week, or once a week. In the meantime, continue shampooing your baby’s scalp with mild baby shampoo during the days you are not using medicated shampoo
- Don’t use conditioner: Never ever, use conditioner on baby’s hair. It will damage the texture of both hair and scalp
- Scalp smoothening: You should also take some measures to soothe the irritated scalp and prevent dandruff from reappearing. Here are some home remedies you can try out:
- Aloe Vera: Use fresh Aloe Vera leaf for this. After peeling the skin, scrape the gel part out of the leaf. Juice it. After brushing off the dead cells, apply the aloe Vera juice on your baby’s scalp. After 10 to 15 minutes, wash it with lukewarm water
- Butter: Gently rub butter on the baby’s scalp. Butter is an excellent moisturizer and suitable for all skin types. It removes the flakes and prevents reappearing to a certain extent
- Coconut oil: With its antifungal properties, coconut oil is an excellent choice for treating and preventing dandruff. Apply it every day, leave it for minimum ½ an hour and then wash off with a mild shampoo
- Rinse well: While washing your baby’s hair, always rinse well, so that the flakes wash out completely. Both over washing and not rinsing the hair properly can lead to dandruff
When Should I Seek Medical Attention For Baby’s Dandruff?
Dandruff that causes yellowish or white flaky skin is not unsafe or contagious, but can be unappealing and itchy. Although dandruff is easily manageable at home with simple remedies, but if it is not showing any signs of subsiding or improving, and if the hair fall is noticeably high, it is better to seek help from a pediatric dermatologist. He will prescribe some anti-fungal cream or lotion to apply to the scalp, which will help to get rid of dandruff and prevent it from reappearing. The doctor may also rule out other issues like psoriasis, eczema, and cradle cap or any other fungal infection can cause itchy and scaly scalp.
Remember you are in charge of your little one having a healthy scalp. So take care!