How to Treat a Baby's Dry Scalp

By Jennifer Cutler
A dry scalp is common among babies and easy to treat at home.
A dry scalp is common among babies and easy to treat at home.

A dry scalp on a baby is usually not a cause for concern. Flaky skin that looks like dandruff or areas where the skin is rough and scaly is commonly known as cradle cap. It may occur in patches on the scalp, and it can cover the entire head or show up in other areas as well. It is often confused with eczema, but the difference is that eczema is often itchy and uncomfortable, while a dry scalp does not bother the baby. It often will go away on its own and resolves by age 3, but home remedies can help. In severe cases, your baby's pediatrician may recommend a medicated shampoo to help.

Consult your baby's pediatrician before attempting home treatments if you've never encountered cradle cap before. Avoid self-diagnosing the issue.

Massage the baby's scalp in scaly areas with fingers or a washcloth once a day. Wash hair with mild baby shampoo after massaging for as long as scales are present. After scales are gone, reduce shampooing to twice a week.

Brush hair gently with a soft-bristled baby brush before rinsing shampoo out. This will help loosen scales. Be careful not to irritate the skin, and if the scalp becomes red or irritated, discontinue brushing.

Rub mineral oil onto the baby's hair and let it sit for 15 minutes before shampooing and brushing if the scales are not responding well to baby shampoo. This will moisturize the scalp as well as loosen scales.

Things You Will Need

  • Water
  • Washcloth
  • Baby shampoo
  • Mineral oil
  • Baby hairbrush with soft bristles

Warning

Consulted a doctor if the affected area feels warm, starts to drain fluid or gets hard and red, as it may be infected.

Call your child's pediatrician if the affected areas seem itchy or bothersome to the baby, the dry scalp appears in places where your baby doesn't have hair, the issue gets worse or covers large parts of the body or isn't responding to home treatments

About the Author

Jennifer Cutler is a licensed educator in Virginia and has experience in both private and public schools. She has a Masters degree in Multicultural Education from Eastern University and a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with concentrations in early childhood, teaching English as a second language and anthropology.