Like adults, babies can have scalp conditions that cause scaling like dandruff, eczema, and ringworm. One of the most common types of scalp conditions an infant can get is cradle cap.
Cradle cap is another name for seborrheic dermatitis. Dr. Kim and Dr. Pope say, “Cradle cap is an oily, yellow scaling or crusting on a baby's scalp. It is common in babies and is easily treated. Cradle cap is not a part of any illness and does not imply that a baby is not being well cared for.”
What causes cradle cap?
The exact cause of cradle cap is unknown, but Dr. Gupta says, “Seborrhea happens most often in babies and teenagers. In both of these times in a person’s life, hormone levels are high, which also might play a role in the condition.”
Since seborrheic dermatitis and cradle cap are the same, the sex hormones and thyroxine could be the trigger. When androgens or thyroxine increase, sebum increases as well. This over production of the skins natural lubricant may be the cause of cradle cap.
According to Dr. Gupta, “A type of yeast (fungus) called malassezia can grow in the sebum along with bacteria, and this may be another factor in the development of cradle cap.”
What are the signs of cradle cap?
Talk to your pediatrician instead of diagnosing your infant with cradle cap yourself, because it can look different for every baby. Common signs are patches on the skin that look oily or greasy covered with white or yellow scales. Some babies get temporary hair loss because of cradle cap and their skin may itch and look red.
Cradle cap is not limited to the scalp and can be found on other parts of the body where there are sebaceous glands like corners of the nose, back, eyebrows, neck, eyelids, and forehead.
How do you remove cradle cap?
Much like dandruff, cradle cap can be easily treated at home once you get the proper diagnosis from your doctor. You can use mineral oil or glycerin to soften the flakes before you remove them.
Because oil can make the condition worse, it is important to remove the oil with a mild baby shampoo. Try a pre-shampoo treatment. Apply the oil to your scalp and gently massage it in to help lift scales. You can use a soft bristle brush made for babies to help remove flakes from the scalp while the oil is on your baby’s scalp. Be careful not to aggravate the scalp by rubbing too hard or scratching flakes with your nails or combs.
Massage and brush flakes away from the scalp for 3-5 min. Add shampoo to the hair and scalp before you wet the infant’s head with water. This will help remove all the oil from the hair and scalp.
Lather the shampoo and let it sit for 1-2 min. before you rinse it. You can shampoo once more if needed. Follow with a baby conditioner.
What are natural, at-home treatments?
There is no cure for cradle cap. It usually goes away by itself. You can treat cradle cap at home once you get approval from your doctor. Try to shampoo your infant’s scalp regularly. Some babies, depending on the level of the condition, may need their scalp cleansed every day until the buildup minimizes. Other infants may need their hair cleansed 2-3 times a week.
You can use Gentle Naturals Baby Therapeutics Cradle Cap Treatment Kit. It is a cream formulated with the first ingredient being caprylic/capric triglyceride, which is derived from coconut oil and glycerin. It helps retain moisture to the skin’s surface and replenishes the scalp. The second ingredient helps exfoliate and smooth out the skin. The canola oil helps to moisturize and soothe the scalp.
You can apply this product on the scalp before you shampoo your infant’s hair. Thoroughly massage the product into the scalp and use a soft brush to help remove scalp buildup from the skin.
Cradle cap is a condition that you can control at home with the proper guidance. It affects many babies and there is nothing you are doing wrong as a parent. With a few exfoliating techniques, you will be able to control the scales and dryness.
How did you help your baby with cradle cap? Share you tips with us?