Cradle cap is the scaly, dandruff-like, yellowish buildup on a baby’s head. It usually appears in the baby’s second month and can last up to the baby’s six month to third year. The cause is unknown, but it is believed to be the result of the oil glands’ over-secretion. Although unsightly, cradle cap is harmless and is not contagious. It also has nothing to do with poor hygiene. Cradle crap will disappear over time, but if you wish to get done with it fast, here is how to do it.
- Apply baby oil on baby’s scalp. Baby oil will soften the cradle cap, making it easy to remove. Apply it to the scaly areas 20 minutes before bath time and let it sit. If baby oil is not available, you can use mineral oil, olive oil, or almond oil. Petroleum jelly can also be a good option.
- Brush the scales away. Using a very soft brush or fine-toothed comb, remove the flakes from the baby’s scalp. Apply very light pressure all throughout, so you won’t risk hurting the soft parts of the baby’s head. Also, avoid picking at the flakes to prevent infection.
- Shampoo the baby’s head. To wash away the remaining flakes, use a very mild baby shampoo after brushing. This will also remove the oil or petroleum jelly, which if left, can further stick the flakes to the scalp. Again, do it very gently. Then, rinse the baby’s head with warm water. After shampooing, dry the baby’s head with a clean, soft towel. All the flakes should be gone by this time. But if not, consider repeating the process every two to three days until the cradle cap completely disappears.
- Consult your pediatrician. If cradle cap persists, especially if it appears on eyebrows, neck, and forehead, it is best to consult your pediatrician who will prescribe you with medicated shampoo. When using medicated shampoo, remember to strictly follow the pediatrician’s or the manufacturer’s instructions. This type of shampoo has certain ingredients that may dry the baby’s scalp if not properly used.
- Apply cream. In severe cases of cradle cap, the pediatrician may also prescribe you with hydrocortisone cream. Applied on the baby’s scalp, this will reduce rash and redness. In case the neck and other parts of the baby’s body are affected, an anti-fungal cream might also be prescribed to kill the fungal infection that might be causing the skin flaking.
- Look for signs of worsening. Cradle cap is relatively easy to get rid of permanently, but if you notice that it persists and is actually worsening with scabs and sores, you may need to contact your pediatrician at once. It is likely that the cradle cap is a symptom of a more serious condition. This is a rare case, though. So don’t worry.
Remember to shampoo your baby frequently and regularly. However, be sure not to overdo it to prevent the oil glands from further secreting excessive oil. If treated completely, cradle cap doesn’t reappear, so shampooing should only be done as part of baby hygiene.