What is Cradle Cap?
Cradle cap is the most common skin problem in toddlers. Cradle cap is the patchy, yellowish, scaly, greasy, and crusty appearance on the scalp of new born babies. It is neither contagious nor itchy. Cradle cap is characterized by the dandruff like dry flakes on the scalp of the baby. It mostly appears in first three months of new born baby. It is scientifically called as neonatal seborrhoeic dermatitis or infantile. It not only attacks sensitive scalp of the baby, but also eyebrows, eyelids, and area around ears.
Cradle cap is also common in adults, mostly less than 40 years. In adults, it appears as skin inflammation. Cradle cap in adults is termed as seborrhoeic eczema or seborrhoeic dermatitis. The greasy areas producing sebum in adults are attacked by a fungal infection.
Cradle cap is neither allergic nor bacterial infection, but can be considered as an inflammatory condition. Cradle cap is a fungal infection, which surfaces due to the antibiotics given to mother before the child’s birth. When the hormones passed by a mother to a child enlarge the oil glands, more sebum is produced. Various other causes of cradle cap are:
Causes of Cradle Cap in Babies
- Hormones passed from mother to baby
- Antifungal treatments
- Antibiotics given to mother during pregnancy
- Overstimulation of oil glands of baby
- Extreme weather
- Certain baby lotions, which includes alcohol
- Irregular skin cleaning
- Oily skin
- Skin disorders
- Food allergies
- Growth of yeast in the digestive tract
Causes of Cradle Cap in Adults
- Hormonal abnormalities
- Increased humidity
- Extreme temperature
- Emotional stress
- Immune deficiency diseases, like HIV
- Neurologic disorders, like Parkinson’s disease
- Growth of fungus, named Malassezia
Signs and Symptoms
Cradle cap appears different in every child and adult. It actually looks like dandruff on baby’s scalp. It is commonly seen on baby’s scalp, eyebrows, area around ears, and eyelids. Though, it is not contagious, but becomes severe when left untreated. It can easily be recognised by following signs and symptoms.
Symptoms in Infant/Baby
- Greasy patches
- Yellowish or whitish scales
- Thick and crusty flakes
- Red and irritating skin
- Patchy skin flakes (dandruff)
- Infants may undergo hair loss
Symptoms in Adult
- Formation of dandruff
- Mild patches starts developing on the scalp and face
- Itchy scales or patches
- Rashes start developing in oval or round patches
- Yellow or brown thick crust on patches
- Red rashes or sores on neck, face, groins, and armpits
Home Remedies for Cradle Cap
Though, cradle cap is not contagious, but looks very ugly on a child’s scalp. It is believed that cradle cap disappear itself after a few months, but as a parent, you cannot just sit and wait for its self healing. There are several natural remedies available for the treatment of cradle cap in toddlers, keeping in mind their soft and tender skin. You just have to go through these remedies and practise them to treat the disorder.
1. Shea Butter
Shea butter is a natural remedy for curing cradle cap. We all know that skin of babies is very soft and tender. Shea butter can easily be absorbed by the skin of scalp without leaving any greasy residue. It does not clog pores and prevent the development of oil or dandruff.
You are required to rub some shea butter onto the affected area and leave it for 20 minutes. After a stipulated time, use a soft toothed comb to pick out flakes. Wash baby’s head with shampoo. Gently wipe baby’s head.
2. Petroleum Jelly Or Vaseline
Vaseline is helpful in treating cradle cap. It is the most simplest and convenient remedy for cradle cap. Simply apply some Vaseline on the infected area. Leave it overnight. This will make scales soft, which can be removed with the help of soft toothed comb.
3. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil works very effectively on cradle cap. It is one of the natural remedies for cradle cap. All you require to do is to apply some coconut oil on baby’s head covering the infected area. Use a fine and soft toothed comb to remove flakes. After combing, use a mild shampoo to wash baby’s hair, which will remove extra flakes. Use a soft towel to wipe baby’s head.
4. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is a natural cure for baby cradle cap. You are suggested to apply some mineral oil on baby’s head. Let it be on baby’s scalp for a few hours. Then, rinse baby’s hair and scalp properly with a baby shampoo. While washing hair, gently rub baby’s scalp with the help of clean wet washcloth in a circular motion. This method will remove flakes from scalp easily.
5. Olive Oil
Olive oil is the commonly used oil for healing cradle cap in infants. To remove crust-like scales and flakes from baby’s scalp, apply some olive oil on his/her head. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Oil will soak the dry scales, which can be easily removed with fine toothed comb. You can also use a clean soft washcloth to remove flakes.
6. Fine Toothed Comb
When a baby suffers with cradle cap, use fine toothed soft comb to pick out flakes from head. The flakes or scales can easily be removed after oiling head.
Note: Do not put excessive pressure while using a comb to remove scales.
7. Baby Shampoo
Baby shampoo is also a good remedy for curing cradle cap. The mildness of shampoo helps in loosening the flakes of cradle cap. You just require to soak baby’s head with warm water. Apply some baby shampoo and gently rub the head. Wash it with warm water. Now, use a fine toothed comb to remove scales from baby’s head.
8. Tea Tree Oil
What to use for cradle cap other than olive oil, Vaseline, and baby shampoo? The answer is tea tree oil. Though, it is considered as wonder oil but is very toxic. It shouldn’t be applied directly on baby’s skin. For curing cradle cap, you need to dilute tea tree oil. You have to mix tea tree oil and almond oil in a ratio of 1:10. Stir it well and apply it on baby’s head. Leave it for 15 minutes. Remove flakes gently with fine toothed comb.
You can also mix 4-5 drops of tea tree oil in one tbsp of olive oil. Utilize it on the infected area. After 5-10 minutes, rinse with a mild shampoo.
Note: Tea tree oil is very volatile oil. Avoid its contact with eyes, mouth, and nose.
9. Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Medicated shampoos or anti-dandruff shampoos are very effective for removing cradle cap. These shampoos have tar, which works on flakiness and prevent skin from getting dry. It also contains salicylic acid and sulphur. You have to wash your baby’s hair gently with medicated anti-dandruff shampoo.
10. Almond Oil
Almond oil is very safe for treating cradle cap in infants. Since the skin of a baby is very sensitive, almond oil can be applied on the infected area. Let the flakes damp for a few minutes. With the help of a fine toothed comb, remove the flakes carefully. You can also use a soft washcloth instead of comb.
11. Hydrocortisone Cream
Hydrocortisone cream is a wonder cream, which treat cradle cap effectively. Hydrocortisone cream is also helpful against skin diseases, like eczema. Just apply pea-size hydrocortisone cream on the affected parts in the morning. Observe the effects and if necessary, apply some more cream before sleeping.
Note: Do not over apply hydrocortisone cream on the baby’s head because it has steroids.
12. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
The acidic property of apple cider vinegar (ACV) helps in removing cradle cap in toddlers. This remedy suggests adding apple cider vinegar in water in a ratio of 1:2. Now, massage it gently on the problematic area. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Wash it off at the time of bathing. Apple cider vinegar will fight against the dead skin.
The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of calendula herbal plant help in relieving the symptoms of cradle cap. You need to apply some calendula cream on the troubling area. It will surely provide relief.
14. Baking Soda
Cradle cap is very common in toddlers. To relieve the symptoms of cradle cap, baking soda can be an effective home remedy. You are needed to form a paste by mixing a small quantity of water in 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda. Mix it well and place it on the infected region. Let it sit for some time and use a soft comb to remove flakes.
You can also make a paste by mixing some natural oil with baking soda. Combine both the ingredients in 1:1 ratio and apply it on the infant’s scalp. Use a soft comb to pick out flaky material.
15. Cradle Cap Brush
The skin of infants is very sensitive and tender. Keeping this in mind, several brushes are available in the market, which have soft bristles to remove cradle cap or yellowish flakes. Use it gently on baby’s scalp to remove dry skin. It can also be used after applying natural oils.
Preventive Measures for Cradle Cap
Though not dangerous, cradle cap can be distressing for the child and parent. be prevented. Here are some preventive steps to be followed by parents:
- Avoid frequent shampooing.
- Use a good shampoo, like medicated shampoo or anti-dandruff shampoo.
- Use a gentle exfoliator, i.e., baby combs with soft bristles.
- Apply oil or petroleum jelly, regularly.
- Do not comb scaly skin with force.
- Stick to breastfeeding.
- Use a humidifier in the baby’s room to maintain a moist environment.
- Use only mild baby shampoo.
- Rinse properly to remove traces of soap.
- Before shampooing, don’t forget to apply mineral oil.
- Ask pediatrician’s advice, if infection grows more.
- Use your fingers or clean washcloth on baby’s scalp while shampooing.
- Use natural oils for massage.