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Cradle Cap: Causes, Prevention and Treatment

Baby crust on the head. Seborrheic crust on baby head, close-up, Seborrheic dermatitis, inflammatory. Crusts on the child’s head (scales)Cradle cap is one of those skin conditions most of us parents have heard about and most of our babies will have. Whether you are a first time or experienced parent, you want to know what causes, prevents and treats cradle cap. Dr. Amy and the Baby Pibu team offer you some practical information and tips on cradle cap: causes, prevention, and treatment.

Cradle cap presents as a flaky, waxy, dry scalp rash that occurs within the first 3 months of baby’s life. It also affects the eyebrow and nose areas, and behind the ears. It usually is not uncomfortable or itchy, and it may look worse than it is.

What causes cradle cap?

Cradle cap forms when there is overgrowth of a yeast-like Malassezia furfur in combination with our natural skin oils. Cradle cap is baby’s version of dandruff.

How can cradle cap be prevented?

Cradle cap can be prevented with simple bathing tips.

  • At the beginning of your baby’s bath, use your index finger with a soft baby washcloth without any cleanser and gently wipe around the oil-prone areas of the eyebrows, behind the ears, and around the nose. Doing this routinely prevents the oily buildup that allows cradle cap to form.
  • Towards the end of the bath, apply some baby cleanser or shampoo to a soft bristle brush and use the brush to clean baby’s head with circular strokes. The gentle brushing of the scalp exfoliates away the daily buildup of dry skin and oil.

How can cradle cap be treated?Gentle Scalp Lather

If cradle cap can’t be prevented and it forms, there are medicated shampoos that can be used, including over-the-counter Selsun Blue shampoo with selenium sulfide, Neutrogena T Sal shampoo with salicylic acid, Nizoral Shampoo with ketoconazole, and Baby Pibu’s Gentle Scalp Lather cleanser with salicylic acid. These medicated shampoos target the yeast-like Malassezia furfur. These can be used twice weekly to help soothe cradle cap flares. Over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream can be used twice daily for 2 to 3 days during cradle cap flares. If the cradle cap worsens, further advice from a pediatrician or dermatologist should be sought.

Dr. Amy and the Baby Pibu team hope you now understand cradle cap even more by learning what causes, prevents and treats cradle cap.