What is a Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap is a more common term for a skin condition in babies called seborrheic dermatitis. This can be observed on the baby’s face, and especially on skin creases and folds behind the ears and in the diaper area, armpits. It usually starts when they are between 14 days to 1 year old and may show up as:

  • red and moist in skin in the neck and behind the ears
  • greasy patches or crusts that are yellowish in color
  • scales or flakes

What Causes Cradle Cap?

Although the exact cause of cradle cap is unclear, we can rule out as causes bacterial infection, allergy or bad hygiene. Instead some things that can be considered are:

  1. Extra oils in the oil glands and hair follicle. Our skin has sebaceous glands, and these glands produce sebum (an oil-like substance). Over-reactive glands produce excessive sebum which can cause the old skin cells not to fall off or dry.
  2. A fungal infection caused by a skin yeast called Malassezia may play roles in its development.

What Can You Do?

Normally, cradle cap just clears up on its own in a matter of weeks or months. But in the meantime, if you want to lessen the scales on your baby’s scalp or remove them without irritating the skin, you can try the following:

  • Gently massage some oil in your baby’s scalp. You can use olive oil, baby oil, or coconut oil. Using your fingernails or a baby brush, gently scrub the oil in the dry skin and allow the skin to lift up.
  • Shampoo your baby’s scalp with a mild baby shampoo.
  • The oil gets under the the scaly skin and lifts it up (in essence it is exfoliating the scalp) and the shampoo takes the dry skin away. If you apply lotion or oil to the scalp after the bath, it will coat the dry skin in place and actually make the cradle cap worse. Do the oil massage and shampoo 2-3 times a week, and in a few weeks the cradle cap will be gone.

If regular shampooing doesn’t do much change, or if the rash gets worse and there are any signs of infection, give us a call. While cradle cap is really common, your child might have a more serious issue that needs attention. We still have virtual appointments available, for your convenience and safety.