How to Deal with Cradle Cap

By Medically reviewed by Dr. Duyen Le

Cradle cap is very common among newborns. Although cradle cap is not cute, it is harmless. However, cradle cap should be treated since it can cause irritation for your baby.

How can I know if my baby has cradle cap or not?

The most common symptom of cradle cap is the thick, oily, brown or yellowish scaling or crusting patches on your baby’s scalp. If it looks like your baby has flaky, dry skin that resembles dandruff, they are very likely to have cradle cap. It is known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis.
Although cradle cap is quite unsightly, it is indeed harmless. Most babies have cradle cap during their first few months. It usually heals itself in approximately 6 to 12 months. Infantile seborrheic dermatitis does not only restrict to the area of your baby’s scalp. It can also appear in the ears, eyebrows, eyelids, armpits, and so on.

What causes cradle cap?

Until this day, scientists have not been able to figure out what causes cradle cap. Nevertheless, we do know that cradle cap is not caused by poor hygiene or allergies. Some experts suspect that the hormones which the infant receives from their mother at the end of the pregnancy are what stimulate the baby’s overproduction of oil (seborrheic), thus, creating cradle cap. Another factor that can bring about cradle cap is the growth of a yeast in the sebum (the substance produced by the glands). Contradict to what people think, cradle cap is not contagious. Also, it would do your baby no harm if you can manage it. However, if cradle cap gets severe, it may cause itchiness in your baby.

How can I treat my baby’s cradle cap?

Gently massage your baby’s areas of cradle cap with your fingers or a soft brush to loosen the scales.Shampoo more frequently (up to once a day). You can also use shampoos which are specialized in curing cradle cap.

Can natural oils treat my baby’s cradle cap?

You can use olive oil or almond oil to treat your baby’s cradle cap by pouring an adequate amount of oil in your hands, massage your baby’s scalp and then leave it on for approximately 15 minutes. Soft brushes or fine-tooth combs can also be used to treat cradle cap by gently combing out the flakes.
Remember to wash your baby’s scalp gently, but thoroughly, to avoid the excess oil buildups on your baby’s skin, which can result in the pores being clogged and the flakes trapped in.

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