Cradle Cap

Most babies may appear to have perfect, blemish free skin but their skin is very sensitive which makes it prone to most kinds of rashes and this includes cradle cap.

Cradle cap (infantile or neonatal seborrheic dermatitis, also referred as crusta lacteal, milk crust, and honeycomb disease) is a dry, scaly and crusty condition of the skin, and appears as thick yellow-brown adherent crusts around the scalp area.

Positively, this condition is a harmless that is common to babies starting sometime in the first three months and lasts until their first 6 to 8 months of life without the need for medical treatment.

What causes cradle cap?

Cradle cap is not caused by any infection, allergy, or poor hygiene. It has to do with overactive sebaceous glands in a newborn baby’s skin in the scalp, due to the mother’s hormones that are still in the baby’s system. Cradle cap results by the gland’s release of greasy substance in the skin of the scalp called “sebum” that makes the sebum mix with the skin?s dead cells in the baby’s scalp resulting to a formation of crust instead of falling off as they dry.

Excessive washing can make the condition worse, as it is not related to hygiene and is usually caused by excessive sebum production. This condition commonly occurs on the baby’s scalp as this is one of the areas of the body that has rich in sebum. This may also extend to the ears, face and neck as well.

What are the signs and symptoms of cradle cap?

It is characterised by greasy, scaly yellow patches over the scalp. For some babies, there may be a thick scaly layer that may cover the whole scalp. Gradually, it may become flaky and rub off easily. Cradle cap is usually not itchy and babies maybe unaware of the problem. In addition, cradle cap can be mistaken with some fungal infections like tineacapitis and scabies.

Cradle cap solutions

The main goal for the treatment of cradle cap is to soften the crusts, so that it can be more easily removed (commonly by gently rubbing with a cotton bud, before lifting it up to remove).

Some home-based remedies include:

  • Use a mild baby shampoo and the scalp should be washed regularly and this along with hair brushing using a soft bristled baby brush to help gently remove stubborn sections of scales.
  • After bath, apply olive oil, evening primrose oil or even capsules of Vitamin A onto the scalp then leave it on for few hours and then remove. by gently rubbing a wet cloth over the cradle cap. Pat dry, or gently rub off any loosened crusts on the towel. You can repeat it once a day, or every other day until it clears.
  • Some doctors may prescribe a medicated shampoo’s for any moderate to severe cradle cap condition.
  • For babies who have less hair, you can massage a small amount of petroleum jelly or sorbelene cream, onto the baby’s scalp. This method is easier to use but it may be a little messy if your baby has a thick hair. You can also use these jellies if your baby has cradle cap that has extended across the eyebrows. Just make sure that it does not enter the eyes.

What is the prognosis?

There is an assurance that this condition will clear as the baby grows (6 to 8 months of life. However, according to some research cradle cap frequently persists into the toddler years and less common on late childhood. Seborrheic dermatitis may then occur again after the child reaches puberty.

A different type of dermatitis, infantile or baby eczema (atopic dermatitis), often develops as the cradle cap is improving. Atopic dermatitis is very itchy.

Baby eczema and cradle cap

Newborn eczema, or dermatitis, is actually a blanket term describing a range of skin conditions, including rash, excessive dry skin, redness and soreness. It is important to know that like cradle cap, its symptoms are not related to lack if good hygiene.

More important facts about cradle cap

This skin condition can be caused by Malassezia (Naturally occurring yeast on the skin). Cradle cap can also come back even if it was treated successfully. To prevent this, continue using a mild baby shampoo or a doctor prescribed medicated shampoo. In addition, severe cases of cradle cap may have some other medical problems such as an immune system disorder (e.g HIV). If the baby is not thriving and has other health problems, immediately consult a doctor.

Baby Directory

X click to search
swap and share tips
with other mums
Search for a Tip...
...add a question +

add your question