We have all heard of Cradle Cap but what is it and how do you treat it?
Cradle Cap is the yellowish, greasy scaly patches that sometimes appear on the scalp of young babies. It's a common, harmless condition that does not usually itch or cause discomfort to the baby. The medical name for Cradle Cap is Seborrhoeic Dermatitis. It usually occurs on the scalp, but can also appear on the face, ears and neck, or in skin folds, such as at the back of the knees and armpits. Cradle Cap usually appears in babies in the first two months and tends to clear up by itself after a few weeks or months, although in rare cases it can last much longer.
What does Cradle Cap look like?
Cradle Cap is easy to recognise by the large, greasy, yellow or brown scales on your baby’s scalp. The scales will eventually start to flake and may make the affected skin appear red. Sometimes, the hair may come away with the flakes.
What causes Cradle Cap?
Exactly what causes Cradle Cap is not clear, although it may be linked to overactive sebaceous glands. These are glands in the skin that produce an oily substance called Sebum.
Treating Cradle Cap
Cradle Cap requires no specific treatment and usually clears up on its own after a number of weeks or months. However, gently washing your baby's hair and scalp with baby shampoo may help prevent a build-up of flakes.
Gently massaging a small amount of baby oil or natural oil, such as almond or olive oil, into the scalp at night can help to soften and loosen the scales. In the morning use a soft baby brush or cloth to gently remove any loose particles and then wash the hair with a baby shampoo.
You could also try washing their hair more frequently than usual (up to once a day) and brushing the scalp using a soft brush to remove any loose flakes. It's important not to pick at the scales because it may cause an infection.
If regularly washing your baby's hair has not helped, shampoos to help loosen Cradle Cap are available over the counter at pharmacies. Check the patient information leaflet before using these for any ingredients your child is allergic to and follow the instructions carefully.
Avoid getting any shampoo in your baby's eyes because they are stronger than ordinary baby shampoo. If you are unsure, speak to your pharmacist for advice. Shampoos that contain groundnut oil or peanut oil should be avoided on children less than five years of age.
See your GP if your baby's Cradle Cap is severe, there is swelling or bleeding, or if there are signs of Cradle Cap on their face or body.
Information from NHS Choices