I was gazing into my daughter’s beautiful face this morning when I noticed something yellowish and crusty on her forehead, right near her hairline. My first thought was that her affectionate-but-messy older brother had smeared some sort of food substance on her face when I wasn’t paying attention. My second thought was “Oh no. Cradle cap. Gross”.
According to PubMed, cradle cap, or Seborrheic dermatitis if you’re all fancy and medical, “is a common, inflammatory skin condition that causes flaky, white to yellowish scales to form on oily areas such as the scalp or inside the ear.” When it happens on a baby’s head it’s called “cradle cap”.
PubMed goes on to explain that:
Seborrheic dermatitis in infants, also called cradle cap, is a harmless, temporary condition. It appears as thick, crusty, yellow or brown scales over the child’s scalp. Similar scales may also be found on the eyelids, ear, around the nose, and in the groin. Cradle cap may be seen in newborns and small children up to age 3 . Cradle cap is not contagious, nor is it caused by poor hygiene. It is not an allergy, and it is not dangerous.
It is, however, icky to look at.
Since it’s not dangerous, you can probably get away with leaving cradle cap alone as long as it isn’t bothering your baby. I, however cannot stand to leave the scaly patches be because they bother me. I just don’t like the look of it. It’s a total neurosis on my part.
I’ve found that rubbing gently with a burp cloth or wash cloth can help remove the dry scales. Other treatments for cradle cap include:
1. Massage your baby’s scalp gently with your fingers or a soft brush to loosen the scales and improve scalp circulation.
2. Give your child daily, gentle shampoos with a mild soap while scales are present. After scales have disappeared, you may reduce shampoos to twice weekly.
3. Be sure to rinse off all soap.
4. Brush your child’s hair with a clean, soft brush after each shampoo and several times during the day.
5. If scales do not easily loosen and wash off, apply some mineral oil to the baby’s scalp and wrap warm, wet cloths around his head for up to an hour before shampooing. Then, shampoo as directed above. Remember that your baby loses a lot of heat through his scalp. If you use warm, wet cloths with the mineral oil, check frequently to be sure that the cloths have not become cold. Cold, wet cloths could drastically reduce your baby’s temperature.
6. If the scales continue to be a problem or concern, or if you child seems uncomfortable or scratches his scalp, contact your physician. He may prescribe a cream or lotion to apply to your baby’s scalp several times a day.
When my son had cradle cap, I had heard to try olive oil instead of the mineral oil suggested in item 5. I did it and it helped a bit but had the unfortunate – though harmless – side effect of causing my baby’s head to smell like dinner. But the skin was a lot clearer!
Basically, cradle cap is just one of those things that happens to a lot of babies and isn’t anything to stress about. They usually grow out of it and won’t lead to the kind of chronic dandruff that will prevent them form getting a date to the prom.
What have you done to get rid of cradle cap?
Photo credit: photo stock
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