Most teens care deeply about their appearance, so having a flaky scalp can be embarrassing. A flaky scalp is usually referred to as dandruff, and it's common among teens, according to the KidsHealth website. Though it's not dangerous, if your teen has a flaky scalp it can be uncomfortable and unsightly. Treatments can help clear up dandruff and prevent flaking skin. Your teen, however, might have additional reasons for having a flaky scalp and those reasons might warrant a trip to the doctor.
Dandruff causes small white flakes to fall from your teen's hair, which can be quite noticeable. The medical term for dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis, and it's usually localized to the scalp, but it can occur on other parts of your teen's body. It can occur when your teen's body produces too much oil, which can get trapped in the hair follicles, leading to the formation of flaky skin. If your teen shampoos her hair too often or not often enough or if she uses hair products that leave residue behind, she's also more likely to develop dandruff.
Certain skin conditions cause a flaky scalp, and they're different than dandruff. If your teen has psoriasis, he faces a good chance of have an outbreak on his scalp. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, about half of all people with psoriasis have it on their scalp. The skin condition can cause thick, crusty areas of plaque to form on the skin, which can lead to flaking if your teen scratches or as the plaque heals. Eczema is another skin condition that can occur on the scalp and it can lead to flaking because it causes itchiness. As your teen scratches her scalp, flakes of dead skin can come loose. Chronic dry skin can also cause a flaky scalp.
Signs and Symptoms
If you notice white flecks on your teen's clothes or see the flecks fly when she brushes her hair, she probably has dandruff. An itchy scalp is another tell-tale sign that your teen's flaky scalp is due to dandruff. If you notice that your teen has a rash on her ears, cheek, face or neck, she's probably experiencing psoriasis or eczema. Eczema outbreaks are usually red while a psoriasis outbreak is most often silvery in color. Because both of these skin conditions are usually diagnosed during infancy or early childhood, most parents recognize the signs of an outbreak right away.
If you suspect your teen's flaky scalp stems from dandruff, ask her pediatrician about special shampoos designed to get rid of the flaky skin. Once the initial outbreak clears up, your teen's doctor might recommend that she continue using the shampoo once or twice a week to prevent it from coming back, the KidsHealth website reports. If your teen's flaky scalp stems from a pre-existing skin condition, her pediatrician will often recommend topical cream or prescription medication to clear up the outbreak. Don't use these treatments, however, without consulting your teen's pediatrician.