Dandruff is characterized by itching and flaking of the scalp. BabyCenter.com explains that dandruff is uncommon in children, but if it is suspected, a trip to the doctor is critical to rule out other possible causes. Oozing, bleeding or scales may indicate another scalp condition, such as eczema or seborrheic dermatitis. Other possible causes of scalp flakes in children include dry skin, a peeling sunburn or a buildup of hair products.
Brushing the scalp gently with a hairbrush is made of many soft bristles, or a fine-toothed comb, can help loosen the flakes on the scalp. This can be done before bathing or showering every day. BabyCenter.com suggests that this technique can remove excess flakes before washing.
Select a mild shampoo that is free of additives, such as perfumes or alcohol. A child with suspected dandruff should wash his hair daily with this mild shampoo. Caregivers can assist in the cleansing by concentrating the massaging of the shampoo in the areas where the flakes exist. It is critical that the shampoo is rinsed thoroughly to reduce the risk of exacerbating the symptoms. If product buildup is to blame, a second shampooing may help get rid of the residue. If this treatment of shampoo is not effective, a specially formulated dandruff shampoo can be attempted. The Mayo Clinic suggests those that include zinc pyrithione or salicylic acid. Such shampoos should only be used under the advice of a doctor. Tar-based shampoos may be helpful in remedying other dandruff-like conditions, including psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis.
An after-shampoo conditioner can help restore moisture to the scalp and hair. This is an important step in treating dandruff that seems to be the result of dry skin. BabyCenter.com suggests avoiding greasy or oily hair conditioners and styling products as these can only make dandruff worse.
A quick dose of sun exposure, such as 20 minutes, may help dandruff in children, suggests Children, Youth and Women’s Health Service (CYH). A sunburn also can cause the suspected dandruff, when the skin begins peeling. Treating this peeling can include the use of aloe gel or another similar burn treatment. Wearing a protective cover is critical after a sunburn to prevent further damage since one layer or more of the skin is already damaged.