Cradle cap causes oily or crusty scaly patches on a baby’s scalp. It commonly occurs on the scalp, however, it can also affect the ears, face, armpits, nappy area, neck, and behind the knees.
The condition is neither contagious nor painful. It is completely harmless and most cases go away by the baby’s 1st birthday.
An estimated 9.5% of baby girls and 10% of baby boys and develop cradle cap, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Note – when cradle cap seems to appear in children, it is typically dandruff.
Common symptoms include:
- possibly mild redness;
- skin flakes;
- dry or oily skin covered with flaky yellow or white scales;
- patchy scaling or thick crusts on the scalp.
Note – do not pick at the scales since this can cause an infection. Also, after a patch is removed or falls off, there may be hair loss in that area.
When to Call the Doctor
If any of the following occur, it is recommended to seek professional medical help:
- signs of thrush appear;
- areas start to go red;
- the baby develops a fungal ear infection;
- diaper rash occurs;
- affected area starts to appear on the body;
- affected area spreads to the face;
- patches start to look irritated.
The precise cause of the condition is not known, although some doctors believe it occurs due to the fact that some babies have high levels of maternal hormones in their body for a few weeks or months following birth. Also, these maternal hormones enlarge the glands, producing more sebum. Too much sebum could prevent the old skin cells from drying and falling off the scalp. Rather, the old skin cells stick to the scalp.
Other causes include:
- for some children, cradle cap can be a fungal infection, that is likely related to antibiotics used by the mother just before the baby’s birth;
- cradle cap can occur as a reaction to some baby lotions or shampoos, particularly those which contain some other harsh ingredients or alcohol not meant for a baby’s skin;
- nutritional imbalances – for instance, a deficiency in zinc, biotin (a water-soluble vitamin which is a part of the vitamin B family), vitamin B6, manganese, or selenium can contribute to this skin condition.
Certain factors can raise the chances for a baby to get cradle cap. These risk factors include:
- other skin disorders;
- emotional stress;
- problems with the immune system;
- oily skin;
- weather extremes.
As your baby’s oil glands and hormones settle down, most cases will clear up on their own without any type of treatment within several months. To help reduce the build-up of scales on the scalp, you can apply the following treatments:
- breast milk – to get rid of this problem quickly, you can use breast milk to rinse your child’s head several times a day. It can serve as one of the best home remedies for the skin condition;
- petroleum jelly (a blend of mineral oils and waxes) – soak the crusts overnight with white petroleum jelly and shampoo in the morning;
- use a mild anti-dandruff shampoo if other treatments don’t work. Take care not to get the shampoo in your child’s eyes. Also, be careful, as these shampoos are drying and can irritate a baby’s skin. Only use for up to 14 days;
- brush – brush the child’s hair once a day using a soft-bristle brush, that will loosen any remaining scales. Also, scales can then be removed with a fine-tooth comb;
- baking soda – when you give your baby a bath, wet his or her head with a cloth and then sprinkle baking soda on the cradle cap. After several minutes, use a baby comb to comb off the skin flakes.
Note – in extreme cases, your healthcare professional may recommend a hydrocortisone or an antifungal cream.
Tip – do not be worried if the condition comes back after medical treatment. This just means that your child’s glands are still making excess oil.
Here Is A List Of 10 Essential Oils For Cradle Cap:
Coconut oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties which help fight infections. Also, it acts as a natural moisturizer and will loosen the cradle cap flakes while nourishing the scalp. To use it, apply the coconut oil on the scalp, massage gently, then rinse with water and shampoo.
Cedarwood essential oil is produced from the wood pieces of a cedar tree (scientifical name – Juniperus virginiana). It has antiseptic, sedative, antispasmodic, insecticidal, and astringent properties. The essential oil can help in the treatment of cradle cap due to its potent antiseborrheic, healing, and anti-inflammatory attributes.
The essential oil comes from cold-pressing the lemon peel. It is popular for its detoxifying, antibacterial, antiseptic, calming, antiseptic, sleep-inducing, and disinfectant properties.
Avocado oil is packed with essential chemicals which are very effective in fighting fungal infections. It also contains vitamin E, that promotes skin softness.
Lavender essential oil relieves pain and enhances blood circulation, helps to disinfect the skin, promoting quick relief and faster healing. In addition, it helps to reduce blotchy patches, redness, and acne scarring.
It can be used on the face to treat skin conditions, like – pimples, spots, dryness, blemishes, infections, and other medical problems, like – dry scalp and dandruff. Tea tree essential oil also works for cradle cap in babies, by controlling the excess secretion of oil glands.
The healing and moisturizing properties of olive oil can help soften and loosen the flaky scales, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians.
Thanks to its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, calendula essential oil will help in reducing symptoms of cradle cap.
Due to its light texture and high content of nutrients, almond oil can reduce the symptoms of cradle cap.
It works wonders for all skin-related ailments and is safe for use on babies.