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Cradle Cap Treatments

Cradle Cap: 4 Treatments For a Scaly Scalp

Has your infant's scalp developed dry flakes or crusty yellowish scales? It's likely cradle cap. Known as seborrheic dermatitis when it appears elsewhere on the body, cradle cap is a noncontagious skin condition that commonly affects infants in the first few weeks and months of life.

Although the exact cause of cradle cap isn't known, some doctors believe one factor is a mother's hormonal changes during pregnancy, which stimulate the baby's oil glands. Unlike other common infant rashes such as eczema and diaper rash, cradle cap isn't itchy or uncomfortable for a baby. While cradle cap usually resolves itself within a few weeks or months, many parents prefer to try the following cradle cap treatments to hasten the healing process.

Keep reading.

1. Mild Shampoo With Gentle Scrub

Washing a baby's scalp with a gentle shampoo and gently scrubbing the scalp help resolve cradle cap in many infants. As Circle of Moms member Melissa M. advises: "Use a soft brush for babies. When shampooing his/her hair . . . gently massage the head while it's wet and soapy. Then rinse well. Brush the hair a couple of times a day." Once the cradle cap is gone, shampoo every few days to help prevent it from returning.


2. Medicated Shampoo

If a mild shampoo doesn't help resolve your baby's cradle cap, your doctor may suggest a medicated shampoo. Cheryl B. shares: "My pediatrician told me to use just a tiny bit of dandruff shampoo (like Head & Shoulders) making sure not to get it in the baby's eyes. Worked like a charm." Emily B. agrees: "I used dandruff shampoo on my son once a week, and it cleared it right up!"

3. Baby Oil

Many Circle of Moms members recommend treating cradle cap with baby oil or olive oil. As Lorrie C. explains: "I just put some baby oil on my daughter's head where she was getting the cradle cap and then I used her baby brush and scrubbed it softly until it was all gone. We never had any issues after that!" It helps to leave the oil on your baby's scalp to absorb for 30 minutes or so before brushing it off. Also, be sure to thoroughly wash off the oil, as if left on it can make the cradle cap worse.

4. Medicated Creams or Lotions

Your pediatrician may also suggest a medicated cream or lotion. Lisa B. recalls: "I tried baby oil, olive oil, and different dandruff shampoos on my daughter, but the only thing that worked for her has been hydrocortisone cream! Our pediatrician prescribed a 2-percent strength, so we use that sometimes and sometimes over-the-counter 1-percent. We rub it into her hair before bedtime at night and wash it in the morning."

Cradle cap can also be exacerbated by a yeast infection. If the rash reddens and spreads to skin creases, and if your child appears to be itchy or uncomfortable, yeast may be an issue. In these cases your doctor may prescribe an anti-fungal cream.

Did we miss anything? What has worked for you?

The preceding information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

Image Source: Shutterstock
Join The Conversation
BrittneyCooper1381535605 BrittneyCooper1381535605 3 years
My best advice is to let cradle cap run its course and it is never too early to use extra virgin olive oil on your child's scalp and skin. My daughter had cradle cap when she was born simply because she had so much hair. All I did was apply EVOO to her hair and massage it in daily. I refused to use any special shampoos on her hair and now it is long and beautiful as it should be. Though it may bother others or seem embarassing, I don't think it is really a big deal. I think it is actually much worse to obsessively overtreat it.
Janiemedina Janiemedina 4 years
I used Dove to wash his head and body, then apply baby oil in his scalp.Brush in circle motions, that worked for me.
CoMMember13617117301132 CoMMember13617117301132 5 years
I used a tiny drop of baby oil or bacitracin and a fine tooth comb. Takes a few times but it works :)
audreyhouse audreyhouse 6 years
Is it possible for toddler also
KellyFerrauiolo KellyFerrauiolo 6 years
My son had cradle cap. It didn't seem to bother him and my pediatrician wasn't concerned, so I didn't stress over it. Their little bodies are adjusting to this new world. The less products and medications you use on a baby that young, the better. I left it alone and it went away on it's own.
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