What is dandruff?
Dandruff is normal shedding of skin. On most of the body surface, the flakes of dead skin fall to the ground without notice, but they can accumulate in the hair. This is a normal process that occurs throughout life on the entire body. It is not contagious.
How can I take care of my child?
- Daily shampooing
The key to fighting dandruff is removing the flakes as fast as they form by washing the hair daily. A regular shampoo usually works very well. Brush your child's hair before each washing. Eventually, you may be able to wash your child's hair every other day without seeing dandruff, but you probably won't ever be able to wash it less often than that.
- Antidandruff products
If the scalp is red and irritated or the scales are quite greasy, use a medicated antidandruff shampoo, mousse, or gel (one containing selenium sulfide). These medicated products not only remove the dandruff but also cut down on the rate of shedding.
Your pharmacist can help you select an antidandruff shampoo. This type of shampoo is used in a special way: lather the hair, wait 3 minutes, then rinse thoroughly. Do this 3 days in a row and then once a week. Use a regular non-dandruff shampoo on other days.
When should I call my child's healthcare provider?
Call during office hours if:
- The dandruff is not improved after 2 weeks.
- Your child also has hair loss, which may be a sign of ringworm.
- You have other questions or concerns.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, MD, author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-11-23
Last reviewed: 2010-06-02
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes
available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical
evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a health care professional.