How to get rid of cradle cap? This is a question asked by parents of a newborn that has this ailment. A newborn baby is one of the most exciting times in life. The joy mixed with the uncertainty about how to raise your child can be a turbulent mix of emotions. The last thing new parents want to deal with is a sickness of any kind in their child. Unfortunately, sickness is a part of life and one of those sicknesses is cradle cap.
Cradle cap (infantile seborrheic dermatitis) is a condition causing a rash on the scalps of infants. Cradle cap has a host of other names it's known by - honeycomb disease, milk crust, crustal lacteal and pityriasis. This rash is yellow, greasy and scaly in appearance. This is a common ailment in infants and tends to show up during the first three months of their life. Cradle cap shares some similarities with dandruff because of its flaky appearance.
Symptoms of cradle cap
- Yellow and greasy patches of the scalp
- Flakes of skin that are similar to dandruff that appears on the scalp
- Thick plaques and crusts on the scalp (May also show on your baby’s ears, nose, groin area, eyebrows and armpits)
- Yellow areas of crusty skin on the scalp
- Scaly areas of the scalp
Cradle cap is diagnosed by your baby’s doctor examining your baby’s scalp.
Potentially serious complications
Cradle cap is often a benign condition that runs its course in a few weeks. However, there are some instances of serious side effects that parents should be on the lookout for:
- Affected areas turn red
- Patches begin to show signs of irritation
- The location of the affected area shows up on the face or other areas of the body
- Development of diaper rash
- Your baby suddenly has a fungal ear infection
- Thrush begins to appear - Thrush is an infection resulting from the excess creation of a fungus-like yeast. It often appears in the mouth or areas surrounding it.
You should see your baby’s doctor if any of these symptoms develop or if you’ve tried home remedies and they have not worked or the symptoms spread to other areas of your baby’s body.
What causes cradle cap?
Presently, it is not known what the causes of cradle cap are. What is known, is that it isn’t caused by an allergic reaction, bacterial infection or any relation to hygiene. Speculation for the cause centers on sebaceous glands that have become overactive, a fungal infection or both happening at once. When sebaceous glands become overactive and produce excess sebum, the older skin cells are not able to dry and get loose from the scalp. Another belief is that the mother passes cradle cap causing hormones to the baby from birth. From recent studies, they’ve shown that when babies have cradle cap, more likely than not, there is a family member who has had or has asthma or eczema.
Treatment and curing of cradle cap
Once cradle cap has been diagnosed by your baby’s doctor, home treatment should be successful. Below are the successful steps to treating cradle cap.
- Washing – Continuing to keep your infant’s scalp clean ensures cradle cap will ultimately go away. Washing your baby’s scalp regularly removes some of the excess oils. You should avoid shampoo that is formulated for dandruff unless directed to use this kind of shampoo by your doctor.
- Brushing – Regular brushing of your baby’s scalp with a baby brush will cause the scales to loosen and fall off with consistent, gentle brushing.
- Lubrication – Consult with your doctor before lubricating your baby’s scalp after shampooing. Lubricants such as baby oil, Vaseline, olive oil or an ointment are all viable methods of treatment.
- Mothers should take Vitamin B supplements as biotin promotes healthy skin
- Humidifiers – Humidifiers are great for your baby’s skin because the humid, moist air stops your baby’s skin from drying out. Your baby’s skin also does not secret so much sebum with it being under constant moisture from the humidifier.
Once the scales have fallen off, you can reduce head washing to two times per week.
Is my baby in danger having cradle cap?
Absolutely not. Cradle cap is harmless to your baby. It isn’t contagious and typically clears up as your baby reaches their first birthday. This is not an indicator of poor hygiene by the parents in washing their baby. This is simply your baby adjusting to the new world he or she was just born into. This is a very common condition and many doctors contend that about one-half of babies born will experience some type of cradle cap in their first year being born.
How does cradle cap differ from other skin conditions?
The following skin conditions are quite similar to cradle cap:
- Atopic dermatitis – Inflammation of the skin (eczema)
- Contact irritant dermatitis – Injury to the skin resulting from friction
- Impetigo – An acute bacterial skin infection
- Psoriasis – Skin has red and scaly thick patches
- Tinea capitis – This is an infection of the scalp resulting from a dermatophyte fungus
Since the symptoms are similar to other common skin conditions, it is important to know its differences.
- Skin is rough and hard to the touch
- Forms on your baby’s head, face and neck
- Cradle cap creates small areas of patchy skin
- Conditions like eczema and dry skin cause flakes that rub off with slight pressure
- Cradle cap is not able to be rubbed off easily because it sticks to your baby’s skin
- Eczema and dry skin can appear in any spot on your baby’s body
- Cradle cap only appears in certain areas, either the head, face or neck
The most effective way to prevent cradle cap is to shampoo your baby’s hair every couple of days. Using a mild shampoo will moisturize the scalp and clear up the side effects relatively quickly.