image001If you notice scaly patches, white or yellow flakes and redness on the scalp of your newborn, then your baby has what is commonly called as cradle cap. This condition is very common in young children and is due to the hyper-secretion of oil by the sebaceous glands in the skin. It is like infantile dandruff that may be present on the scalp, face, neck, ears or even armpits, wherever sebaceous or oil glands are overactive. It might upset you to see cradle cap on your baby, but do not worry, this is not a serious or contagious condition. With the right treatment, it goes away in time although you may have to put up with it for a while. Learn how to get rid of cradle cap to help your little one.

What Is Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap is a type of skin disease called saborrhoeic dermatitis. When it occurs on the scalp, it is called cradle cap. Cradle cap can appear as scaly patches or thick crusts that may or may not be greasy; sometimes white or yellow flakes are also present with a mild red reaction.

When these scales and flakes become dry, they rub off easily and might contain bits of the baby’s hair. Apart from the scalp, these lesions or scaly patches may also appear on the face, neck, nose, ears, nappy area and even armpits.

Newborn babies and babies younger than eight months are commonly affected by this condition, although it may occur at any age. Even toddlers and older children are affected by it. However, it is not an uncomfortable disease for the baby as it causes no pain, itching or fever. It may appear unsightly, but it will go away after some time and your other children are not likely to catch it as it is not contagious.

What Causes Cradle Cap?

The exact cause of this disease is unknown. However, multiple factors such as microbes, sebum production and genetic predisposition play an important role in this disease. Left-over hormones in the body of the baby from the pregnancy are also thought to play a part in causing this disease.

These hormones stimulate the sebaceous or oil glands in the baby’s skin so that increased production of sebum takes places. This sebum, combined with the dead skin cells, accumulates and sticks to skin in the form of scales. The disease goes away on its own as the hormones clear away from the bloodstream of the baby and sebum production goes down.

In other babies, a positive genetic history of allergic conditions such as allergic rhinitis, asthma and eczema (dermatitis) may be the cause of cradle cap. Such babies may have a repeat episode when they grow up.

How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap

Cradle cap usually goes away on its own after a few weeks or months. Self-care measures help treat it and remove the scales. These include:



Wash the scalp

Washing the baby’s scalp with a mild shampoo that can gently loosen the scales or flakes. Then using a soft brush you can remove these scales.

Use oil

For hard scales of cradle cap, you can use oil. Gently rub baby oil, olive oil or almond oil on the scales and leave it for some time so that the oil can penetrate deeply into the dry skin. Even leaving the oil overnight on the scalp is fine. The oil will soften and loosen the scales which you can remove with the help of a soft brush.

Deal with inflammation or redness

If there is too much inflammation or redness, it means that the cradle cap has become infected. In these cases, your pediatrician will prescribe a medicated lotion, shampoo or antifungal cream. Even if the cradle cap has spread to other areas like the face, ears or neck of the baby, these creams and lotions can be used according to your doctor’s advice.

Consult a homeopathic specialist

Homeopathic medicines can also help treat cradle cap. These medications include thuja and sulfur which should be used after consulting a homeopathic specialist.

Important Notes:

To protect the skin of the baby, you should take the following precautions:

  • Soft cotton bed covers and blankets should be used.
  • When washing the baby’s clothes, use a mild detergent instead of a harsh chemical.
  • During hot humid weather, keep the head of the baby uncovered. This will prevent accumulation of sweat and worsening of the condition.

It is important to go to your doctor if the condition persists or spreads. Peeling or picking away the scales will leave raw patches that can easily get infected; it is, therefore, important that you let the scales fall off on their own.

If you want to know how to use organic oil to treat cradle cap, you can watch this video below:

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How Long Will My Baby’s Cradle Cap Last?

Cradle cap is a self-healing condition. In mild cases, it may last from a few weeks to a few months. Mostly it goes away completely by the time your baby is 8 months or 1 year old.

2. Is Cradle Cap Contagious?

No, it is not a contagious condition. Your other babies are completely safe and not likely to catch it. It is completely harmless and does not cause any discomfort to the baby.

3. Should I Take My Baby to See a Doctor?

Despite the fact that it is a benign skin condition, it can easily worsen or become infected. A sign of cradle cap becoming infected is fever and increased redness. Bleeding may also be seen if the scales are peeled off. Sometimes it spreads from the scalp to the other areas of the body. If you see any of the aforementioned signs, you should take your baby to the doctor. The doctor may prescribe an antifungal cream, lotion or shampoo to help control the disease. If there is too much inflammation, the doctor may even give a cortisone cream.