What Are the Treatments for Dandruff in Kids?

Dandruff, also called seborrheic dermatitis, causes dead skin cells to flake off the scalp. This can leave flakes sitting in hair or on clothing, which can be embarrassing for both adults and kids. Although not as common in kids as it is in adults, dandruff can occur in children, especially during puberty. Unlike the type of seborrheic dermatitis that occurs in infants as a temporary and harmless condition with no treatment, dandruff that occurs in older children can be treated in a variety of ways.


Medicated shampoos that contain ingredients such as tar or salicylic acid help to reduce scaling, although it may take some experimenting with different brands to find one that is effective. These shampoos are available without a prescription and can be used on a child twice a week to reduce dandruff and provide treatment without being harsh on her hair. According to Babycenter.com, a regular shampoo can be used the rest of the week. Parents can help a child make lathering the shampoo a game to make the experience more enjoyable for her.

Hair Products

An older child may experience dandruff as a result of too many hair products that dry out his hair and cause product build-up, such as gel, mousse and hair spray. According to Babycenter.com, using less of these products may help treat the problem, as well as choosing products that do not contain oil or harsh chemicals. An older child may also experience less dandruff if he rinses hair products out of his hair thoroughly.


Stress can cause dandruff flare-ups, according to Medline Plus. Providing a child for opportunities to discuss her life and any potential stress may reduce her anxiety levels. She should also have plenty of free time in order to relax and wind down, which can result in less dandruff flakes.

Medical Treatments

According to MotherNature.com, if a child’s dandruff doesn’t clear up in two weeks after home treatments, he should see a doctor to rule out the possibility of eczema, psoriasis or ringworm. These conditions can cause skin cells to flake in a way that is similar to dandruff. They are often accompanied by red and swollen areas, and can be cleared up with prescription medications.