Disclaimer – This article is only to be used for informational purposes only, and does not replace the need to consult a health care professional to discuss the most suitable treatment for your child.
Pharmamum’s Ultimate Guide: Cradle Cap
Just when you are finally getting yourself organised to go out and about and show your newborn off to the world, you begin to notice yellow looking flakey plaques on the top of your baby’s head. What on earth could this be? Does my baby have eczema or psoriasis? There is no need to panic, and although it does look horrible and cause you concern, it is very common to surface about a month after being born and will usually subside on it’s own and not cause the baby any discomfort.
What you are looking at, is a skin condition called Cradle cap. It often appears within the first three months of life, it usually settles on it’s own (usually by six months) but it can take up to even longer than a year to settle. To describe what cradle cap looks like, it appears as an oily yellow plaques that reside on a baby’s scalp. It is thought to be caused by a presence of yeast that can grow on the scalp, as well as the production of sebum which is an oil that is secreted by the sebaceous glands. The oil acts to waterproof the skin and is useful in the mothers womb, but once the baby is born and the skin cells are replicating and growing, they can get trapped and form greasy looking plaques on the baby’s scalp. The sebaceous glands are thought to be stimulated by the mothers hormones that are still circulating throughout the baby’s bloodstream. The cradle cap can also spread to the eyebrows and/or behind the ears.
Both of my children had cradle cap and it would have surfaced itself after 4-6 weeks after birth. Just about the same time that we were having a celebration with family and friends to celebrate their birth. About half of all babies born, suffer with cradle cap. It is not due to poor hygiene or anything the parent is doing, and is not contagious. It doesn’t bother the baby and there is certainly no pain or itchiness associated with cradle cap. Whenever I was feeding my children I always felt tempted to pick the plaques off. However I had to stop myself picking at it, as you can increase the risk of skin infections, and there is every chance it will reappear because the secretions of oil are still occurring.
How to treat cradle cap?
1. You can leave it and ignore it, and that’s perfectly fine as it will clear up on its own.
2. You can apply an oil ie olive oil or almond oil or even vaseline to the scalp, and massage it with your fingers , place a towel or allow the baby to sleep on something you don’t mind getting oil stains. Give your baby a bath and wash out the oil after an hour. We recommend using an oil, as this will soften the plaques allowing them to be easily removed but it’s important to wash the oil out because otherwise it will contribute to the problem. After the bath, brush the hair with a soft brush to brush away the flakes or even use a very soft toothbrush to gently brush aways the flakes and plaques. Keep doing this every day until the scalp has improved.
3. If the above treatment doesn’t work (ie the plaques are just too thick and the oil is not softening them), the next step would be to use a medicated lotion called Egozite cradle cap lotion,it is an oil based solution containing 6% salicylic acid to remove crusts on the infant’s scalp by softening the plaques if they are very thick and crusty.
4. Other products that are available over the counter and are from natural ingredients is a product made by Mustela. I personally am a big fan of Mustela products because they are made from natural ingredients and don’t contain harmful agent ie Parabens or Phtalates. It’s called Mustela STELAKER Cradle cap cream. It contains natural ingredients derived from avocado to help eliminate the spread of micro-organisms and contains Aloe Vera and borage oil, which soothe and hydrate. Mustela recommends using this products every night for two weeks rubbing it into the scalp and leaving it overnight and then washing the baby’s hair in the morning with their foam shampoo for infants.
5. Another two great products and we are getting great feedback from is MooGoo’s Eczema Balm and Scalp Cream. They are both natural creams that contain the anti-yeast ingredient Piroctone Olamine.
6. If your baby’s cradle cap doesn’t respond to any of the above treatments, ask your doctor about medicated or dandruff shampoos. These shampoos, many of which are available over the counter, contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, coal tar, zinc, selenium, and ketoconazole that can help treat the cradle cap.
With most cases of cradle cap you can easily treat at home and use the above methods and be aware that once treated cradle cap can reappear but with the above treatments you should be able to control it. However if you notice the following it is important to speak to your GP:
- the cradle cap doesn’t improve after two weeks, despite simple treatment described above
- your baby is scratching at it
- the rash is red or sore and/or feels warm and/or fluid is oozing out of any area/plaque
- the rash seems to be spreading
- Any of these symptoms indicate either an infection or different skin condition and need to be treated differently.
Please feel free to leave comments on this blog and if there are any questions I am more than happy to answer them. Also if you tried a remedy that worked well for your children that was or wasn’t mentioned above, let me know. I hope this information does help.