Cradle cap is a generic term for a medical condition known as seborrheic dermatitis in infants. It is usually a greasy and scaly rash somewhat yellowish in colour that appears on the scalp of infants who are 1 to 3 months old. These may appear in patches as well, on other areas such as the face or the diaper area. This condition is not at all contagious and quite common, causing no itchiness or harm to the baby.
Symptoms Of Cradle Cap In Babies
The symptoms include the following : Crusty yellow patches on baby's scalp and areas around the forehead and eyes. Dandruff-like flakes on the scalp and eyebrows Scaly patches on the scalp which may spread on to the diaper area or underarms. Though the patches may seem red, they are usually not itchy. It is important not to pick on them or else they may lead to an infection.
Causes Of Cradle Cap In Babies
In newborns, cradle cap can be caused by a number of reasons.
Overactive sebaceous glands : The baby's skin may still not be able to gauge the amount of sebum to be produced and hence may go overboard. The excess sebum gets trapped in the uppermost layer of the skin, creating scaly patches. Yeast infection: A type of yeast called Malassezia, found on human skin, is also known to contribute to cradle cap in babies. Eczema or asthma: There are a lot of studies that suggest that newborns with cradle cap are usually born to parents with a history of eczema or asthma. Contrary to popular, it is important to understand that cradle cap is not caused due to any bacterial infection or poor hygiene .
How To Treat Cradle Cap In Babies
Due to the delicate skin of the newborn babies, no aggressive treatment for cradle cap is advised as the condition is known to disappear on its own in due course. Nevertheless, here are a few ways to deal with cradle cap in babies:
1. Wash with shampoo
You may wash your baby's head with a mild tear-free shampoo every day, followed by gently brushing down the area with a special cradle cap brush. This may be enough to exfoliate the skin and reduce the appearance of patches. You may have to repeat the washing and brushing process every day until the scales subside.
2. Lubricate with oil
Petroleum jelly or baby oil can also be used to treat cradle cap. Just apply a generous amount of petroleum jelly, olive oil or baby oil to the affected area and let it soak in. You can later wash the area with a mild shampoo. Make sure not to leave the oil or lotion on for too long or else it may aggravate the condition. You can also do the following: Massage coconut oil daily on your baby's scalp. This will help reduce the redness and dryness. Leave it on for 20 minutes before brushing the dry skin off. Tea tree oil is known to control the secretion of sebum in babies with cradle cap  . However, it is important for you to dilute it before using the oil on your baby's delicate skin. Tea tree oil along with any other carrier oil in the ratio of 1:10 is ideal. Leave the oils for a good 20 minutes and wash off as usual. The moisturizing property of shea butter is great to treat cradle cap in your baby. Simply apply a generous portion of the butter onto the affected area and brush off the flaky layer with a soft brush.
3. Use medicated creams or over-the-counter cradle cap products
If you wish to seek medical advice to treat your baby's cradle cap, the doctors usually prescribe a hydrocortisone cream or shampoo that will help loosen the scales and reduce the appearance of cradle caps. However, do make sure to check with your doctor first before using any medicated cream in your newborn. There are a lot of OTC medications that will help you manage and get rid of your baby's cradle cap. Just be sure to check if they are baby specific.
4. Use humidifiers
Humidifiers are a great way to treat cradle cap in babies. Keeping humidifiers where your baby sleeps can prevent the scales from drying out, making it easier for you to brush them off. You can also keep your baby in a bathroom full of steam to have the same effect.
5. Intake of vitamin A by nursing mothers
Intake of vitamin A supplements by the nursing mother is known to reduce cradle cap in newborns . Vitamin A is essential for healthy skin. If you are breastfeeding your baby, this may be the best way to get your baby a healthy dose of vitamin A through your breastmilk.
6. Apply breast milk
Rich in nutrients and antibodies, your breast milk may be the ultimate cure for your baby's cradle cap. You can apply a small amount of your breast milk onto your baby's scalp to soothe the area.
7. Apply aloe vera
Freshly extracted aloe vera is safe to be used on newborns as well. Simply cut up a fresh aloe leaf and rub on your baby's scalp . It will not only provide a soothing relief but will also help get rid of the dead skin layer.