March 25, 2008

Getting Rid of Dandruff in Children

Posted in Category : Natural Cures

Dandruff, a common skin problem faced by many adults can also on occasions, affect children and infants. Known in medical parlance as seborrheic dermatitis or seborrheic eczema, it is also referred to as cradle cap in the case of infants. To the uninformed, dandruff is an inflammatory skin disorder that results in yellowy-white scales forming on the scalp and other oily areas of the head. The affected areas turn itchy and scratching them can cause the scales to flake off and may even result in an injury to the scalp.

What causes dandruff is a combination of abnormal skin shedding caused by a fungus known as malassezia and an over production of skin oil. The oil causes the dead skin to clump together forming the flakes. Malassezia and oily skin are not the only culprits. It has been observed that dandruff tends to run in families. Other factors that increase the chances of developing dandruff include oily skin, poor hygiene, skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, extreme weather, obesity and stress. Certain medical condition such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke and HIV infection may also increase the risk of developing dandruff.

While dandruff in children and infants can be a cause for irritation, it is not considered to be a serious problem. There are numerous home remedies for dealing with dandruff in kids.

Dandruff in your child can be identified by scaly skin on the scalp and other areas where the skin is oily. Areas that are usually affected are the scalp, eyebrows, ears, nose, behind the ears and the chest. At times the skin may appear reddened and on close inspection you may detect skin lesions.  In infants it takes the appearance of brownish or yellowish crusty scales on the scalp but may also appear elsewhere. While it is not contagious, scratching may exacerbate the inflammation and may result in bleeding and infection.

However, it would be wise to consult your doctor before attempting to treat your child’s dandruff at home. This is because what you consider to be dandruff may in fact be symptoms of another condition. For example, skin peeling on the scalp may also result from sunburn. Children sometimes do not rinse their hair thoroughly after shampooing and what you think of as dandruff flakes may in fact be dried shampoo flakes. Other infections such as eczema and psoriasis may also cause symptoms akin to dandruff. For this reason consult your doctor to rule out these possibilities before commencing to treat your child’s dandruff at home.

The best remedy for dandruff in children begins with hair care and hygiene. Make sure that you shampoo your child’s hair every day. Prior to shampooing your child’s hair, make sure that you brush it thoroughly so as to get rid of any dead skin.

Next, shampoo your child’s hair thoroughly with a medicated shampoo and scrub the whole scalp thoroughly. Rinse and then repeat the process a second time. The first application will get rid of any remaining flakes and leave the scalp exposed, making the second application more effective.

Medicated shampoos that are available include those containing zinc, salicylic acid, coal tar, resorcin, ketoconazole, or selenium. Not all of these may be suitable for your child. Your doctor will advise you as to which type of shampoo would be most suitable for your child. Medicated shampoos should be used only 2 to 3 times a week.

On the days you are not using a medicated shampoo, clean your child’s hair with a regular, mild shampoo. The whole process should be continued till the dandruff disappears completely. Avoid the use of hair conditioners and any other oily hair products as these may aggravate the problem.

Infants with cradle cap can also be treated at home after your pediatrician confirms the diagnosis. You can start by massaging your baby’s scalp gently, using either your fingers or a baby brush to loosen the dead skin. The massage will also help to improve blood circulation in the scalp. Next, shampoo your baby’s hair with a mild shampoo. Rinse off and dry the scalp with a gentle patting motion. Brush your child’s hair again. Regular brushing will help loosen the dead skin. Continue this routine daily till the flakes have disappeared. You can then revert to the regular routine of shampooing 2 to 3 times weekly.

At times you will find that the scales resist your most persistent efforts. In such cases, try applying some mineral oil to your baby’s scalp. Wrap his or her head in a warm cloth and leave it on for about an hour before the next shampoo. Since babies tend to lose body heat through the scalp, make sure that the cloth remains warm while it is wrapped around his or her head. If the problem persists, consult your pediatrician who will be able to suggest an alternative course of action.