What Is Cradle Cap and What Can You Do to Help It?– Itchy Baby Co.

What Is Cradle Cap and What Can You Do to Help It?

  • by Rachelle Davenport
What Is Cradle Cap and What Can You Do to Help It?

What Is Cradle Cap and What Can You Do to Help It?

Cradle cap is a common condition that affects babies, and although it’s usually harmless, many parents want to help bring back their little one's beautiful, smooth skin. We’re here to help you understand cradle cap, what it looks like, possible causes and a natural method for helping to remove it at home.

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a skin condition that most commonly begins to appear in babies under three months old. It’s a form of dermatitis that causes thick, oily yellow crusts to form on the scalp, and it can sometimes spread to other parts of the body, like the ears or other skin folds.

Cradle cap usually goes away on its own after a few weeks or months, but there are things you can do at home to help speed up the process. If your baby has persistent cradle cap that doesn’t go away after a few months, it could be a sign that they’re dealing with a different skin condition and you should seek a healthcare professional's diagnosis and treatment. You should also see a doctor if your little one’s cradle cap becomes itchy or infected, or if it remains after they turn three months old.

What does cradle cap look like?

Cradle cap can look different depending on your little one’s skin tone. You might notice:

  • flaky skin
  • yellow, oily crusts on the scalp or skin
  • crusts surrounded by a rash that is lighter or darker than your child’s skin colour (if your little one has darker skin)
  • crusts surrounded by a red or pink rash (if your child has lighter skin)

Symptoms are usually seen on the scalp but may spread to other parts of the body, like the eyebrows, ears or in folds of skin on the torso. When it appears on other parts of the body, it’s referred to as seborrhoeic dermatitis.

What causes cradle cap?

The exact cause of cradle cap is usually unknown, but it's thought to be linked with one or a combination of the below:

  • Hormones passed from mum to baby through the placenta during pregnancy
  • Excess sebum in the skin’s oil glands or hair follicles (which can be caused by the hormones mentioned above)
  • A type of yeast called Malassezia, which is found on the skin.

Parents, please be reassured that a lack of hygiene or cleanliness does not cause cradle cap, and it’s not a contagious condition.

How can you get rid of cradle cap?

It will usually go away by itself, but many parents choose to treat cradle cap because they feel that it doesn’t look or feel nice on a baby’s scalp. Here are some steps to try to help improve the appearance of cradle cap at home:

  • Use a gentle, fragrance-free shampoo like our Natural Shampoo & Body Wash to cleanse your baby's hair and scalp regularly. Always approach this gently and avoid scratching or rubbing their scalp.
  • Gently massage oil into the scalp at night while their hair is still damp after bath time; our Natural Scalp Oil is a blend of coconut and sunflower oils, with oat extract and calendula. These ingredients can help to soften the cradle cap scales and provide nourishment.
  • The next morning, use a soft baby brush, a washcloth or cradle cap brush to gently massage the scalp and lift away the flakes and crusts. As an extra soothing step, you can also make a mixture of our Natural Oatmeal Bath Soak by mixing two spoonfuls of oatmeal bath soak powder with lukewarm water (enough for baby baths) and use it to cleanse the scalp before brushing.
  • After brushing, shampoo your little one’s hair again to remove any oil residue and wash away any lifted flakes that may be remaining in their hair. 
  • Continue this process until the scalp is clear, and start this process again if the cradle cap reappears. If your baby’s cradle cap isn’t improving, you should see your healthcare professional for advice.

Our Happy Scalp Bundle includes a range of gentle products to help with cradle cap and dry, flaky scalps. 

Can cradle cap become infected?

Like other conditions that affect our skin, cradle cap can become infected. If your baby’s scalp becomes red, itchy, or the skin looks like it’s weeping or blistering, it’s essential to see your doctor. An infection will most likely need to be treated with antibiotics; sometimes, antifungal treatments or steroids may be prescribed. It's crucial not to pick at cradle cap flakes (as tempting as it might be!), as this can result in the skin becoming infected. 

This blog post was brought to you and your baby with love by the Itchy Baby Co. team. x

Disclaimer: Information provided is of a general nature only, and you should always consult your medical professional.

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