Dandruff in Toddlers – Causes and Top Home Remedies to Treat

5 min read

Written by Smita Srivastava

Smita Srivastava

Dandruff in toddlers

Toddlers have extremely sensitive skin. The flaky and dry skin that develops on toddlers’ heads is known as dandruff. It is uncommon for toddlers to get a dry scalp. Your little ones may complain about an itchy scalp and scratch their heads. Usually, dandruff in toddlers goes within a week.

In some cases, there may be a probability of seborrheic dermatitis. Keep reading the post to know the cause of dandruff, symptoms, home remedies, and more.

In This Article

What Are the Causes of Dandruff in Toddlers?

Using excess shampoo is one of the cause of dandruff in toddlers

Dandruff in toddlers, though rare, is normal. It usually happens due to dry skin on the scalp. Dry skin is the main cause of dandruff in toddlers. But what makes the dry scalp in toddlers? There are a couple of factors like-

  • Application of harsh chemical-based shampoo and applying too much shampoo
  • Not rinsing the toddler’s head properly after shampoo
  • Not using shampoo regularly may also lead to dead skin cell build up on the scalp resulting in dandruff
  • Sunburn on the scalp
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Excessive sebum or oil on the toddler’s scalp
  • Based on study done by PubMed Central, it it found that Yeast infection, known as Malassezia, can also lead to dandruff in toddlers

Besides the above listed causes, it is crucial to notice skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema. Sometimes these conditions can also contribute to dandruff in toddlers.

[Read : How To Choose the Right Baby Shampoo For Your Baby?]

Symptoms of Dandruff in Toddlers

The exact cause of dandruff is not known. The skin cells on the scalp are always shedding. This process might not be visible but it’s happening. But, when these shed skin cells start becoming visible as dry and white flakes, then we know for sure that it’s dandruff.

Here are some signs that show your tiny one has a dandruff problem-

  • Dry and flaky skin on toddlers’ scalp
  • The pink, yellow, and red coloration on your little one’s head
  • Dry patches that look scaly, oily, rough, and crusty in appearance or on touching
  • Dry peeling scalp

How to Treat Dandruff in Toddlers?

If home remedies do not seem to be working, it’s better to consult a doctor. The doctor might recommend the following things to treat dandruff in toddlers-

  • Wash the scalp of your toddler regularly
  • Use mild anti-dandruff shampoo
  • Use a soft bristle brush or comb to exfoliate the scalp
  • Some doctors also recommend using shampoo with salicylic acid. This helps to reduce dandruff

Some shampoos also have 1% selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, and ketoconazole. These ingredients are also effective in treating dandruff

List of Top 6 Home Remedies to Treat Dandruff in Toddlers

Curd can be used as home remedy for dandruff

Dandruff is not dangerous or contagious. But, it’s always better to take action as soon as you notice dandruff in toddlers. Here are some easy home remedies to treat dandruff on your little one’s head-

1. Keep Bath Short

Avoid giving long baths and using excess shampoo on the head. Also avoid using water which is too hot. It causes dryness and may lead to dandruff.

2. Use Shampoo For Babies

Prefer mild shampoo free from harsh chemicals. The mild shampoo helps to cleanse toddlers’ hair gently and without drying out the scalp.

3. Do Oil Massage

Oil massage helps to keep toddlers’ heads nourished and conditioned. It reduces chances of dry skin, and soothes the scalp if there is dry skin.

4. Brush the Hair

Regularly brush your toddler’s hair. Make sure to use a soft bristle brush. Brushing, especially after oiling, will ensure that the toddler’s scalp is moisturized and it will also help to loosen up the dry flakes, if any.

5. Curd

Apply curd on the toddler’s scalp and leave for around 15 minutes. After that you can use a mild baby shampoo to wash off the hair. Regular use of this is believed to reduce dandruff.

6. Baking Soda

Before shampooing, use dilute baking soda paste on the toddlers’ heads. This helps to exfoliate the scalp and absorb excess oil. Besides this, baking soda also helps to deal with fungal infections. But take care to use gentle strokes to rub the scalp.

When to Visit The Doctor?

When to visit the doctor for toddler dandruff

Generally, it would be great to visit a doctor if a toddler’s dandruff is not improving even after remedies. A visit to the doctor will help in diagnosis of the exact reason behind the toddler’s dandruff. And, they will also prescribe medicines/treatment based on their observation.

If you are wondering when to visit the doctor? You should consult a doctor for a toddler’s dandruff problem if you notice the following symptoms-

  • The scalp becomes itchy, and you observe skin changes
  • Consult the doctor if the flaky scalp feels warm when you touch it
  • Dandruff causes a bad smell
  • Bleeding or cracking scalp
  • Pale white liquid oozes from the flaky skin

Dandruff in toddlers is not a serious cause of concern, but you have to take care. Scalp dryness usually resolves by following the above home remedies. Use gentle shampoos and keep the toddler’s scalp hydrated with the use of oil. Dandruff rarely causes any discomfort. But, if visible dryness symptoms on the head don’t go away even after remedies, consult a pediatrician. And, don’t worry. With a little care and proactiveness dandruff in toddlers is manageable.

[Read : 13 Uses Of Coconut Oil For Babies]


1. Which Oil is Best For Toddler Dandruff?

Coconut oil and olive oil are ideal for managing dandruff in toddlers. Add 1-2 tablespoons of lemon juice in coconut oil and apply on the toddler’s head. This helps to remove the excess oil from the scalp and maintain the pH balance.

2. Can a 2-Year-Old Use Dandruff Shampoo?

One can use a gentle over-the-counter dandruff shampoo on a 2-year-old. But if you have any doubt, then better to consult with your pediatrician before using anything. Also, please note that one should avoid shampoos made with salicylic acid for toddlers under the age of 2.

3.  Is Dandruff in Toddler Hereditary?

Dandruff in toddlers is not contagious. However, it can be passed genetically. So, if parents have dry skin or a flaky scalp, chances are there your little one may have a dandruff problem.

Read Also: Top 8 Best Shampoos For Your Baby

Smita Srivastava, Bachelors (BA) in Mass Media and Mass Communication from Delhi University
Masters (MA) in Mass Media and Mass Communication from Kurukshetra University

With a background in Mass media and journalism, Smita comes with rich and vast experience in content creation, curation, and editing. As a mom of a baby girl, she is an excellent candidate for writing and editing parenting and pregnancy content. The content she writes and edits is influenced by her own journey through pregnancy and motherhood. When not writing- She can be found curled up with a book. Or, bingeing on Netflix.Read more.

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