“Hair should be washed at least twice in a week. As far as possible, use a separate shampoo and conditioner,” says Vasundhra Vasu, a cosmetologist who owns a salon called The Visible Difference. A good shampoo should have a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 and should have sodium citrate as a neutralising agent. “If possible, use herbal products as they are safe,” says Edna Mahajan, a hairdresser in Chennai. Natural shampoos are infused with vitamins and antioxidants which will moisturize your child’s hair. You can also make your own shampoo for your child by mixing one-fourth cup of distilled water with an equivalent amount of herbal green tea. Add to this some lemon juice and honey.
After a shower
After a shower, gently squeeze the water out of the hair with a towel. Rubbing too hard with a towel can make the hair frizzy and cause it to fall. Use a wide tooth comb on wet hair, as any other comb can pull out lots of hair. Avoid using the hair dryer directly on wet hair as the heat can make the hair dry. Leave your child’s hair loose when wet, since tying it up immediately can cause the hair to get all tangled up.
Your child’s hair will grow better if he oils his hair regularly. “You need to massage the scalp as this helps the blood flow to the hair roots and nourishes the hair,” says Vasundhra. Oil is a good lubricant. She recommends olive or coconut oil, which doubles up as a natural sunscreen, and keeps the hair moist. Though the summer sun is good for the hair, prolonged exposure can cause dryness.
Brushing helps blood circulation in the scalp. “The hair should be brushed from the bottom and worked till the top, removing the knots along the way,” says Edna. “For curly hair, combs with big teeth should be used. For straight hair, use a brush with smaller teeth. Combs with very small teeth harm the hair,” adds Edna.
Trimming will reduce spilt ends and keep the hair healthy. “Trim once in two months for girls, and once a month for boys,” adds Edna.
Fruits and vegetables, including orange and yellow vegetables containing vitamin A, help promote a healthy scalp. Strawberries, citrus fruits, dark green vegetables and tomatoes contain vitamin C which prevents hair breakage. Vitamin E in green leafy vegetables, and proteins in egg and fish also promote healthy hair.
Regular exercise stimulates blood circulation and hair growth.
“Wearing tight rubber bands can cause balding later. Avoid heavy metal clips as they damage the roots. Children should use plastic or light metal clips as accessories,” says Vasundhra.
Lice can be treated with a good anti-lice lotion. “At home, you can grind tulsi leaves and apply it on your child’s hair for about 20 minutes. Wash it off later,” says Vasundhra.
Paediatricians say that this is more common in children as they reach puberty. It can be treated by alternately washing the hair with a medicated shampoo and a mild shampoo. Home remedies often work well on children - like applying warm coconut/olive oil and massaging the scalp and leaving it overnight, before washing with a gentle shampoo. Massaging the hair with a mixture of vinegar and warm water also helps. Note that if any shampoo is not completely washed off, or if conditioners or other styling products are used when there is dandruff, it could worsen the condition.