15 Home Remedies for Cradle Cap that Actually Work

Cradle cap is the most common skin problem in toddlers. It is the patchy, yellowish, scaly, greasy, and crusty appearance on the scalp of newborn babies. Luckily, it is neither contagious nor itchy. Cradle cap is characterized by dandruff-like dry flakes on the scalp of the baby. It mostly appears in first three months of a newborn baby. The scientific name is neonatal seborrhoeic dermatitis or infantile. This dermatitis not only attacks sensitive scalp of the baby, but also eyebrows, eyelids, and the area around ears. But are there any home remedies for cradle cap? 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 practice them to treat the disorder. End the unsightly display on your child’s head with these remedies. This has been proven and tested by many individuals. These are easy to do and easy to access.

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.

What to do:

  • 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 simplest and convenient remedy for cradle cap.

This method is very popular because it is quick, easy, and effective. Additionally, the vaseline is virtually odorless so you don’t have to deal with any unappealing scents.

What to do:

  • Simply apply some Vaseline to the infected area.
  • Leave it overnight.
  • This will make scales soft, which can be removed with the help of a soft toothed comb.

3. Coconut Oil

pieces of coconut with milk and oil

Coconut oil works very effectively on cradle cap. It is one of the natural remedies for cradle cap. When you are using the coconut oil, you want to be sure that you are using fracture coconut oil as this contains the ingredients you will want. The brand new use does not matter. However you do want to read reviews before you purchase a specific brand.

What to do:

  • All you need 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. This method will remove flakes from scalp easily.

What to do:

  • 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.

5. Olive Oil

oilve oil and olives - home remedies for cradle cap

Olive oil is one of the most commonly used home remedies for cradle cap in infants. This remedy is one of the best because olive oil is a staple in many households. Not only that, but when you massage it into the scalp, it does wonders for moisturizing your hands as well.

What to do:

  • 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 a fine-toothed comb.
  • You can also use a clean soft washcloth to remove flakes.

6. Fine-Toothed Comb

When a baby suffers from cradle cap, use a fine-toothed soft comb to pick out flakes from the head. The flakes or scales can easily be removed by oiling head.

Typically, the hospital will provide you with a fine tooth comb that you can take home. If you don’t have one, you can find them at the pharmacy or grocery store for dirt cheap. When you are using the fine toothed comb, make sure not to apply too much pressure to your baby’s head. Instead, gently massage the flakes out of the head. 

What to do:

  • Oil the head.
  • Comb gently the head and remove the flakes.

Note: Do not put excessive pressure while using a comb to remove scales. If there are patches of scales that are difficult to get out, do not mess with them. Instead, work around them and let those patches loosen themselves out over time. 

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.

What to do:

  • You just need 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 a wonder oil, it is very toxic. It shouldn’t be applied directly to baby’s skin. For curing cradle cap, you need to dilute tea tree oil.

What to do:

  • 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 a fine-toothed comb.
  • You can also mix 4-5 drops of tea tree oil in one tbsp of olive oil. Utilize it in 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 prevents the skin from getting dry. It also contains salicylic acid and sulfur.

What to do:

  • 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. Moreover, it’s very effective too.

What to do:

  • 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 a comb.

11. Hydrocortisone Cream

The hydrocortisone cream is a wonder cream, which treats cradle cap effectively. It is also helpful against skin diseases, like eczema.

What to do:

  • 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.

Before you use hydrocortisone cream, be sure to talk to your child’s pediatrician to make sure that this is a safe and effective method for your baby. Some babies may be more sensitive to this method than others. You really want to save this method for the most extreme cradle cap cases. 

12. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)

The acidic property of apple cider vinegar (ACV) helps in removing cradle cap in toddlers. Apple cider vinegar will fight against the dead skin. An affordable home remedies for cradle cap.

What to do:

  • Add apple cider vinegar in water in a ratio of 1:2.
  • Now, massage it gently into the problematic area.
  • Let it rest for 10 minutes.
  • Wash it off at the time of bathing.

13. Calendula

calendula - home remedies for cradle cap

The antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties of calendula herbal plant help in relieving the symptoms of cradle cap.

What to do:

  • You need to apply some calendula cream on the troubling area. It will surely provide relief.

14. Baking Soda

To relieve the symptoms of cradle cap, baking soda can be an effective home remedy. Just be careful when applying it.

What to do:

  • You need 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, know that there are several brushes available on the market, which have soft bristles to remove cradle cap or yellowish flakes. This is an effective home remedies for cradle cap.

What to do:

  • Use it gently on baby’s scalp to remove dry skin. It can also be used after applying natural oils.


Cradle cap is neither allergic nor bacterial infection but can be considered as an inflammatory condition. It 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:

In some cases,  your baby might display symptoms of cradle cap when in fact it is not. If your child’s skin on the top of their head begins to flake and the flakes fall off on their own, this is most likely dead skin that is naturally falling off due to the growth of new skin. If this is the case with your little one, then you want to be careful not to peel the skin off. Instead, let the flakes gently fall out on their own.

Causes of Cradle Cap in Babies

There are many different causes for cradle cap and cradle cap typically affects babies of all ages and ethnicities. Regardless, here are some of the top reasons that cradle cap can occur.

  • 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
  • The growth of yeast in the digestive tract

Causes of Cradle Cap in Adults

To the surprise of many, cradle cap can also occur in adults. It may often be mistaken for dandruff, however. Here are the top reasons that cradle cap may be present in adults. 

  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Puberty
  • Increased humidity
  • Extreme temperature
  • Emotional stress
  • Immune deficiency diseases, like HIV
  • Neurologic disorders, like Parkinson’s disease
  • The 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 recognized 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 start 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

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.

Final Thoughts on Cradle Cap

For many who have not experienced a cradle cap before, it is completely understandable that it may cause alarm. But generally, cradle cap is one of the most common things that any newborn infant and even adult can experience. While it may seem alarming, there are plenty of remedies that you can do right at home to help relieve yourself or your little one of cradle cap. We hope that the remedies listed above will help guide you on your journey to getting rid of those pesky little flakes. Make sure to follow these home remedies for cradle cap carefully to get better results.