Cradle cap, also called infantile seborrheic dermatitis, refers to a yellowish, greasy, patchy, crusty, and scaly skin rash that is common on the scalp of recently born babies. It is not bothersome, since it does not involve pain and infection. However, it may become itchy if it becomes severe. The following are the causes, signs and symptoms, and home remedies for cradle cap.
The exact cause for cradle cap is unknown, as per Baby Center. According to the publication, experts believe that the hormones that are transferred by the mother to the baby at the terminal phase of pregnancy stimulate the baby’s seborrheic or oil glands; this overstimulation, as per the publication, results to cradle cap. Another thought is that yeast grows in the sebum, which leas to skin irritation. The condition is not contagious and mild in nature; however, it may be itchy if it intensifies.
Signs and Symptoms
Cradle cap presents a number of signs and symptoms. According to Mayo Clinic, common signs of the condition include oily or dry skin, thick crusts on the scalp, skin flakes, and possibly, mild redness. The condition is not usually itchy. As per the publication, the scales can also be found on the eyelids, eyes, nose, and groin. Medical consult is vital if home management is unsuccessful and if the patches spread to the baby’s face and body.
While cradle cap requires no medical treatment, home remedies can be applied to resolve the condition.
Washing and Shampooing
One remedy for cradle cap is washing and shampooing the baby’s hair. This is to remove excess oil from the scalp. According to Mayo Clinic, the baby’s hair is washed once daily using mild baby shampoo and the scalp is brushed lightly with a soft brush to loose the scaling. If this is ineffective, the doctor may advise giving an adult dandruff shampoo, which contains two percent antifungal ketoconazole medication. It is ensured that the shampoo does not touch the baby’s eyes, since it may irritate them. At time, hydrocortisone cream is prescribed to decrease inflammation and redness.
Another remedy for cradle cap is coconut oil. According to Top 10 Home Remedies, coconut oil acts as a natural moisturizer and it loosens the cradle cap flakes while giving nutrients to the scalp. It also has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which help combat infection. To apply the remedy, as per the publication, the person puts coconut oil in the palm of the hand and the oil is rubbed until it becomes liquid. Then, it is gently massaged into the scalp or into the affected areas. After that it is left on for 20 minutes and is then rinsed with warm water. Finally, a softbrush is used to gently remove the loose flakes. As per the publication, the remedy is done daily or every other day, which depends on the severity of the condition.
Mineral oil is another way to manage cradle cap without using medications. According to Home Remedy Shop, the person applies mineral oil on the baby’s head and allows it to stay for a few hours. Then, the baby’s hair and scalp are rinsed with baby shampoo. After that, the scalp is gently rubbed with a clean wet washcloth in a circular motion to loosen and remove the flakes.
Overall, cradle cap involves scaling of the baby’s scalp and while it is not dangerous, it may be uncomfortable to the newborn in the long run. Thus, it is best to manage it immediately and consider seeking medical consult from a doctor for proper assessment, planning, intervention, health education, and evaluation.