Cradle cap, or seborrhea dermatitis, is a skin condition that shows itself as yellow, crusty scales on the scalp and sometimes on baby's face. The description of cradle cap actually sounds worse than the condition and makes this fairly common type of dermatitis sound rather yucky. In reality, cradle cap is fairly similar to adult dandruff, can be treated, and while annoying to see on your darling baby, causes no real harm. Cradle cap is not contagious and can show up in any baby. Cradle cap commonly starts in the first 3 months of baby's life.
The symptoms of cradle cap include a scaly, crusty rash with redness or irritation often present as well.The scales of cradle cap may look oily or weepy. Cradle cap is diagnosed by examination of the baby's scalp. Many experts believe cradle cap is caused by a combination of overactive sebaceous glands and hormones. It is not at all related to being dirty.
Many concerned parents start to wash their baby's hair more often in an effort to fight cradle cap. While it is okay to wash baby's hair frequently with a mild shampoo, this will not cure cradle cap and too much washing may actually further stimulate baby's oil glands and make cradle cap worse.
Cradle cap does not need to be treated unless it itches baby's scalp. To treat cradle cap, apply a small amount of baby oil to baby's scalp. Let the baby oil sit on baby's scalp for several minutes to start to soften and loosen the scales. Use a small baby comb to very gently loosen the scales. Use a soft baby brush to brush the scales away and follow up by washing babies hair with a mild shampoo.
For particularly troublesome cradle cap in babies six months old and older, you can use a special seborrhea shampoo to wash babies hair. Be careful, however, because this type of shampoo will irritate babies eyes if it happens to get in them. If cradle cap causes redness and irritation, use a little cortisone on the red, inflamed area.
Baby will eventually outgrow cradle cap, but if the condition gets drastically worse, spreads to other parts of baby's body, or does not respond to treatment at all, consult your baby's pediatrician for advice.