How to Get Rid of Severe Dandruff or Cradle Cap in Childrens' Hair

Updated November 21, 2016

Children's dandruff is an unfortunate part of life for many parents. Just as parents are adjusting to the excitement and responsibility of raising a child, their newborn develops scaly flakes on their scalp. This infant dandruff is called seborrheic dermatitis and is more commonly referred to as cradle cap. While cradle cap eases at around 8 to 12 months, young children still occasionally have dandruff. As children grow and experience the hormonal onslaught of puberty, they may again suffer from dandruff. While most cases of cradle cap and dandruff are easy to treat, some severe cases require additional measures.

Massage roughly a teaspoon of olive or almond oil into your baby's scalp. Allow the oil to moisturise your baby's scalp and hair for about 15 minutes.

Brush your infants scalp with a soft-bristled brush to loosen the cradle cap flakes. Do not brush too roughly as you can cut your baby's scalp.

Wash your baby's hair with a gentle baby shampoo. Leave the shampoo on the infant's head fro 2 to 3 minutes before thoroughly rinsing. Make sure you completely wash away the oil and shampoo.

Determine the cause of the dandruff. A sunburned scalp can peel, creating the appearance of dandruff, but this temporary condition simply needs to heal on its own. Make sure you or your child completely rinses shampoo out of his hair because shampoo or conditioner build-up can result in flakes.

Discourage your child from extraneous scratching if his or her scalp is itchy. Excessive scratching can break open the skin and introduce infection causing bacteria.

Brush your child's hair with a comb or brush to loosen the flakes. Wash his or her hair with a medicated dandruff shampoo containing salicylic acid, selenium sulphide or zinc pyrithione twice a week. Use a gentle shampoo on the other days.


If the cradle cap or dandruff is extremely itchy, red or oozing, seek medical attention. Contact your child's doctor if symptoms do not improve after several weeks.

Things You'll Need

  • Olive or almond oil
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Baby Shampoo
  • Brush or comb
  • Medicated dandruff shampoo
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About the Author

Jennie Dalcour began writing Internet content in 2009. She has worked several years in the telecommunications industry and in sales and marketing. She has spent many years teaching young children and has spent over four years writing curriculum for churches. She is now pursuing a Masters of Arts in clinical psychology at Regent University and has ample experience with special needs children.