Understanding Cradle Cap

Cradle cap, or seborrheic dermatitis, is a condition of crusty or scaly patches on a baby’s head. This is not a painful condition and it is not a sign of any serious health issues. It is very common and you can usually take care of it at home. 

Cradle cap doesn’t itch. It is not a sign of poor hygiene and it is not contagious. All in all, parents should not worry about cradle cap. There are, however, things you can do to clear it up.

Wash baby’s hair

Wash your baby’s hair and scalp with a mild shampoo every day. Use a washcloth but don’t try to rub off all the scales. This is not a one-time treatment so there’s no need to try to remove all signs of cradle cap at one go.

Use a mild baby shampoo unless your pediatrician tells you otherwise. In severe cases, your doctor might suggest a dandruff shampoo. 

If regular shampooing doesn’t resolve the problem, you can also put mild oil on your baby’s head to soften the scales. Almond oil, coconut oil, or olive oil are good choices. Massage the oil into the scalp, being careful around the soft spot. Leave the oil on for 15 minutes and then wash the hair with baby shampoo.

Brushing your baby’s head with a soft brush can also help dislodge the flakes of cradle cap. Be careful to choose a brush with very soft bristles.

Ask your doctor

Cradle cap usually is not cause for concern. Still, it can take time — sometimes months — to clear up. Some children continue to have some cradle cap up to age four. Ask your pediatrician if you feel concerned.

It sometimes can spread to your baby’s face or body. In this case, you should check with your doctor to make sure there are no other issues involved. However, babies generally grow out of cradle cap without any special treatment.