toddlers dry scalp

3 reasons for your toddler’s dry scalp & Best Treatment Options!

A toddler’s dry scalp should not be a shock to you, as everyone, even your infant, can get a dry scalp. But determining the cause of a toddler’s dry scalp, as well as how to treat it, can be difficult.

Read on to know about potential sources of a toddler’s dry scalp, and what you should do about it. See your baby’s pediatrician as a rule of thumb if your baby’s scalp is not improving or if it is extremely itchy.

What causes dry scalp in toddlers?

toddlers dry scalp

Cradle cap

Some of the most popular dry scalp seen in babies and toddlers has to do with a disorder named cradle cap, also known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis.

Although the precise cause is not known, a mixture of hereditary and environmental causes is believed to cause cradle cap. It is also occasionally caused under the skin by the overgrowth of Malassezia fungi in sebum (oil).

Cradle cap triggers thick, oily spots on the scalp, which may vary in color from white to yellow. If your toddler has cradle cap on the scalp, these patches may also be present in other oily parts of his body, such as armpits, groin, and ears.
Cradle cap won’t itch and won’t bother your child.


Dandruff can also cause your toddler’s dry scalp, too. Baby dandruff is also a type of seborrheic dermatitis in infants. Dandruff is white, dry and sometimes itchy as opposed to the more common appearance of cradle cap. It may be genetic in origin. If you have dry skin, then your baby may also have dry skin.

The skin of your baby being overwashed does not cause dandruff. However, if your baby has this condition, you might want to apply shampoo to their scalp less often. And, stick to washing their hair every other day, so the dryness doesn’t get worse.

Cold weather and low humidity may also make dandruff worse.


Allergies can also cause dry scalp in your baby, although this is less common. If a red, itchy rash goes with the dry scalp, allergies may be the cause.

How to treat a toddler’s dry scalp at home

When the source of your baby’s dry scalp has been found, it can be resolved at home by doing the following things:

  1. Adjust the frequency of using shampoos on a toddler’s dry scalp.
    Not only does shampooing the baby’s hair extract dirt and oil from their precious locks, it even helps eliminate extra dirt and oil from their scalp. However, the number of times you shampoo the scalp of your toddler should be reduced if he has a dry scalp.

    Shampooing regularly will help extract oil for the cradle cap and release the flakes on the scalp of your infant. To check dry scalp triggers, you should aim to wash your toddler’s head every other day.
  2. Make use of medicated shampoo for a toddler’s dry scalp.
    If adjusting the shampoo frequency doesn’t help, you may want to try a medicated shampoo gotten over the counter. Search for one which is designed specifically for babies. See different options of medicated shampoo on Amazon.

    Look for anti-dandruff shampoos that contain pyrithione zinc or selenium sulfide for dandruff and eczema. More stubborn cradle cap-related patches may require stronger anti-dandruff shampoos, such as those that contain tar or salicylic acid. You can ask your toddler’s pediatrician to tell you which shampoo is safest.

    No matter which medicated shampoo you choose, the key is to leave the shampoo at least two minutes on your baby’s scalp.

    Use the medicated shampoo two to seven days a week until symptoms improve, or on the packaging as directed. It takes up to a month for symptoms to clear up.
  3. Apply mineral oil for a toddler’s dry scalp.
    Mineral oil is believed to help remove the stuck-on flakes left on the scalp and help to reduce cradle cap symptoms. Even though this is a growing home remedy, it has not been proved that mineral oil can aid dry scalp.

    Prior to shampooing, gently massage the oil on your baby’s head if you want to use mineral oil. Pass a comb over the scalp to remove the particles, for additional benefits. Allow the oil to sink in before rinsing off for a few minutes.

    Before each shampoo session, you can repeat that process for cradle cap. As these flakes begin to improve, you can reduce the frequency.

    The key is to ensure all of the oil is washed away absolutely. Excess oil left on the scalp could escalate cradle cap.
  4. Do olive oil massages.
    If your baby has dandruff or eczema, you should use a scalp treatment with olive oil instead of mineral oil. Use the same process as above, and thoroughly rinse with care.
  5. Apply hydrocortisone cream.
    Hydrocortisone cream can be sold over the counter or on Amazon. And, it can help alleviate redness, itchiness, and inflammation. Although it may help with scalp eczema, it does not automatically help with cradle cap or accumulation of daily dandruff.

    Talk to a doctor about your baby before you try this method. Even though hydrocortisone cream is usually safe for children, it should not be used on a long term basis.

    After shampooing and drying your toddler’s hair, apply hydrocortisone to the scalp. You should apply once or twice a day, or as prescribed by a pediatrician for your infant.

    If eczema causes the dry scalp, cream with hydrocortisone may improve symptoms within one week.

When to seek help

It may take many weeks for a toddler’s dry scalp to go away, depending on the cause. If, after a week of therapy, you don’t notice any changes at all, it might be time to get a pediatric look at your baby’s scalp. To treat any underlying inflammation, they may recommend a prescription-strength shampoo or a steroid cream.

Also, see the baby’s doctor even if the baby’s scalp starts to crack, ooze, or bleed as these symptoms could be early signs of an infection.


Dry scalps are common in toddlers, and can always be handled at home. The underlying cause is mostly cradle cap. Many potential triggers include dandruff, eczema, and allergies.

If the baby’s scalp doesn’t get better after a couple of weeks of therapy or if the signs become worse, please see a pediatrician.

It is also advised that you seek the help of your child’s pediatrician before trying out some of these home remedies. Especially during the early emergence of symptoms.

MUST READ: You’ve black specks in stool? 5 Possible causes and proven Treatment

FAQs on Toddler’s dry scalp

What are the causes of a toddler’s dry scalp?

The causes of a toddler’s dry scalp include:
1. Cradle cap
2. Dandruff
3. Allergies

What are the home remedies for a toddler’s dry scalp treatment?

You can treat a toddler’s dry scalp at home by doing the following:
1. Reduce the frequency of shampooing your toddler’s scalp
2. Use medicated shampoo
3. Do olive oil massages

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