What Is Cradle Cap?

There is a natural temptation to panic the first time you notice signs of cradle cap on your little one's head. You thought you’d been doing everything possible to keep your baby happy and healthy. Where did these oily, scaly patches on your baby’s head come from? The good news is that cradle cap is harmless to your baby and will eventually clear up on its own. 

In fact, your baby probably does not even notice it. Although a bit unsightly, cradle cap is not itchy, painful, or irritating to your baby. Cradle cap is a cosmetic issue known as seborrheic dermatitis, and won’t permanently impact your baby’s health. These patches are often white or yellow and tend to form a crust that flakes off on its own. 

What Causes Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap might be common, but what causes it is still the subject of some scientific debate. We do know that cradle cap is not caused by uncleanliness, infection, or any kind of neglect, so if you’re feeling guilty about it, it’s time to let yourself off the hook. 

You’ve undoubtedly noticed that your little one has incredibly soft skin. This lovely, soft baby skin might feel nice under your fingers, but it is also very sensitive. Many experts believe that cradle cap is caused by overactive sebaceous glands. These oil-producing glands can create excess sebum (skin oil) leading to breakouts very similar to acne.

Some doctors think that babies hold onto their mother’s hormones in the weeks and months following birth. Those grown-up hormones can sometimes create issues with your baby's skin, leading to cradle cap. 

How Long Does Cradle Cap Last?

Cradle cap typically clears up on its own by the time your child is 6 months to a full-year-oldIf you’re worried about cradle cap, you can usually encourage it to resolve a little faster with some simple treatments. 

How to Get Rid Of Cradle Cap

While there is no guaranteed remedy for cradle cap, there are a few steps you can take to reduce its appearance and speed up healing. 

The simplest treatment is to gently rub your baby’s head to encourage the scaling to flake off. You can do this with your fingers but a soft washcloth like our Ultra Soft Natmeia Bamboo Washcloths will work even better. Wash your baby’s scalp each day with a mild, baby-friendly shampoo. While the shampoo is still in their hair, comb their hair with a soft brush like our Wooden Baby Hair Brush with Batural Bristles. If you’d like to experiment with different types of brushes to see which works best for your baby, pick up our 3-Piece Wooden Baby Hair Brush Set. This gorgeous little set comes with three different combs, each useful for different stages of your baby’s developmental cycle. 

If the scaly patches still don’t come loose, rub a natural moisturizer or petroleum jelly into their scalp and let it soak for a few minutes. Some parents like to use mineral or olive oil for this step, but experts recommend against this. Speak to your pediatrician before trying a traditional or home remedy such as olive oil. You can safely soak your baby’s hair for several hours if necessary. 

When to See a Doctor

Your baby will be going to frequent checkups during this stage of their life, which is usually the best opportunity to talk to your doctor about additional treatments for cradle cap. If the cradle cap continues to worsen, or even spread to other parts of your baby’s body, err on the side of caution and reach out to your doctor before your next routine checkup. 

Let them know how long your baby has had cradle cap, how you’ve tried to treat it so far, and which specific brands of products and shampoos you’ve used. At this stage, it’s important not to jump to conclusions or panic. Remember that most babies go through minor health issues and your doctor will be able to help you find a solution. Hang in there, your baby will be okay!

Brand Team
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