How To Treat Cradle Cap
Cradle cap is most common in newborns and causes scaly skin patches on the scalp or other parts of the body. Find out how to treat cradle cap safely.
What is cradle cap?
Cradle cap (also known as juvenile seborrheic dermatitis) is an extremely common condition in babies.
It is the greasy, yellow scaly patches that can sometimes appear on the scalps of young babies. It can also appear on the face, ears, neck, nappy area or in skin folds, such as the back of the knees and armpits.
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The condition usually appears in infants in the first two months and tends to clear up by itself after a few weeks or months. In most cases, it will clear by the time your baby is one year old.
What does cradle cap look like?
Cradle cap looks like large, greasy, yellow or brown scales on your baby’s scalp. These scales will begin to flake and the affected skin might have a reddish appearance.
Hair will sometimes come away with the skin flakes, but it will grow back.
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Causes of cradle cap
The exact cause of cradle cap is not known, but it is thought that a contributing factor could be hormones that are passed from mother to baby before birth.
It may also be linked to overactive sebaceous glands. These are glands in the skin that produce an oily substance called sebum.
Cradle cap is not caused by poor hygiene or an allergy and it isn’t contagious. Infants with cradle cap may be more likely to develop dandruff, which is another type of seborrhoeic dermatitis, when they’re older.
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Cradle cap is sometimes confused with another skin condition, infantile eczema. One major difference between these conditions, however, is that eczema usually causes significant itching.
Treating and preventing cradle cap
Most cases of cradle cap will clear up in their own time.
- Washing your baby’s hair and scalp with a mild baby shampoo can help to prevent a build-up of scales.
- Loosen the crust on the scalp by massaging in baby oil or natural oil.
- Do not pick at the scales as this can cause an infection.
- Contact your GP if your baby’s scalp becomes inflamed, bleeds or spreads to other parts of the body.
Tips on how to treat cradle cap
The first tip is to never scratch or aggressively remove the scales.
Secondly, the best treatment for cradle cap is to use a large amount of warmed olive oil all over the scalp.
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Make sure the the oil is only gently warmed and is not too hot.
To stop the oil dripping from the scalp wrap a small amount of cling film around the top of the head only – not near the mouth or nose.
Leave intact for 30 minutes to one hour while supervising the child constantly. Wash out with plain mild shampoo and use a baby comb to remove the loosened scale.
Selene Daly, Dermatology Clinical Nurse Specialist
Do you have other tips on how to treat cradle cap? Let us know in the comments below.