Cradle cap is simply baby’s version of dandruff. Cradle cap presents as a flaky, waxy dry scalp rash that usually presents within the first 3 months. It most commonly affects the scalp but also affects the eyebrow and nose areas, and behind the ears. Here is the good news! Cradle cap may look bothersome, but it usually is not uncomfortable or itchy, and it may look worse than it is.
What causes cradle cap and when will cradle cap go away?
Cradle cap forms when there is overgrowth of a yeast-like Malassezia furfur in combination with our natural skin oils. Cradle cap typically goes away on its own within the first 6 to 12 months.
How can cradle cap be prevented?
Cradle cap can be prevented with these 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?
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 get the condition under control. If there are areas that are inflamed and red, over-the-counter 1% hydrocortisone cream can be used twice daily for 2 to 3 days. If the cradle cap worsens, further advice from a pediatrician or dermatologist should be sought.
Check out Dr. Amy’s Daily 4 videos to learn how to give your baby a bath and how to spot and soothe cradle cap.