Flaky Scalps in Kids

Updated November 21, 2016

Children can develop any number of flaky skin conditions upon their scalp. Having a flaky scalp warrants a visit to your child's doctor to ensure that he hasn't developed a skin condition that can lead to an infection. Your doctor can examine your child's scalp and make a diagnosis before treating it.

Cradle Cap

Infants and toddlers can develop a thick crusting on their scalps known as cradle cap, or infantile seborrheic dermatitis. The secretion of hormones from you to your child prior to birth can cause cradle cap, notes the Mayo Clinic. Another possible factor includes the development of yeast that forms in sebum, resulting in the flaky scales. Cradle cap looks like dandruff and will easily flake off when scratched.

Tinea Capitis

Ringworm that occurs on your child's scalp appear as scaly patches that can itch. You may also notice patches of broken hair on affected areas. Infections develop commonly amongst school-aged children. Caused by fungi such as dermatophytes, ringworm spreads through contact with infected individuals, from animals infected with ringworm or by touching contaminated objects. Ringworm can cause kerion, which results in swellings that drain, states the Mayo Clinic.

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis can cause a light flaking to a thick crusting around your child's scalp. The skin condition can also extend onto your child's forehead and around her neck and ears. Unlike cradle cap, which appears yellowish, scalp psoriasis will appear as a powdery flaking. If your child has scalp psoriasis, she may also suffer from the condition on other areas of her body, including her elbows, knees or hands.


Though scabies commonly affects human skin, children can become infected upon their scalps. Scabies, caused by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei, results from skin-to-skin contact. Children can develop the skin condition through child care facilities. Scabies affects children under the age of three, resulting in scaling and an itchy scalp that becomes worse at night.

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