What Causes Dandruff in Kids?

Dandruff is a condition that strikes people of all ages. Dandruff is usually marked by itchy skin on the scalp that flakes off in scaly patches. Children are less susceptible to dandruff than adults, according to an article at mothernature.com, but they can get it. Dandruff is not only a condition of dry skin, the article reports, but really the overzealous shedding of skin on the scalp. Treatment for dandruff in children is usually with specially formulated shampoos given several times per week until the problem resolves.


Stress can cause a flare-up of dandruff in children report the dermatologists at mothernature.com. If your child has frequent bouts of dandruff, look to take some of the pressure off him by scaling back activities or getting him to talk about issues that may crop up at school.


The fungus malassezia is responsible for some cases of dandruff according to dermatologists at babycenter.com. The yeast-like fungus causes the scalp to shed skin cells too quickly. This particular fungus needs fat to grow, so it flourishes in places dense with sebaceous glands, such as the scalp. An oily scalp exacerbates dandruff, according to an article at MayoClinic.com.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Skin that is red, itchy and flaking are the primary symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, a common cause of dandruff according to doctors at the Mayo Clinic. The flaking scales of skin will be yellow or white and the hair will appear greasy.

Less Common Causes

Dandruff-like flaking will also occur if your child has eczema or psoriasis of the scalp. Usually these conditions occur on other areas of the body, but do sometimes occur on the scalp. Contact dermatitis will occur if your child is allergic to any ingredients in your shampoo and itchy flaking skin will be the result of that allergy.

Sunburn, not shampooing enough and becomes oily and irritated, and skin that dries out in winter are also common causes of dandruff-like flaking in children.