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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.