Cradle cap, or infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis, usually begins within the first three months of a baby’s life. It is a skin condition on the baby’s scalp that results in yellow, scaly, flaky, greasy patches. Some babies with cradle cap also have patches on their forehead, ears, and eyebrows. It is usually a mild and temporary condition that bothers the parent more than the child, but it has been known to have adverse side effects as well.
No one is clear as to what causes cradle cap and why only some babies suffer from it. It is not a result of poor hygiene, infection, or an allergy. Some doctors believe cradle cap to be caused by hormones from the mother that still linger in the baby’s system after birth. Regardless, it is certainly not a sign of poor grooming or care.
The treatments for cradle cap usually aren’t necessary, but many parents are eager to get rid of it for aesthetic purposes. There are several home remedies that work for some and don’t work for others so it may take a few tries to get rid of the cradle cap. A physician could be consulted about it, but it usually isn’t neccesary.
One remedy for cradle cap is giving more frequent shampooing followed by the rubbing of a soft washcloth over the scalp. A baby brush could also be used to gently scrape the flakes off. Some people recommend vegetable oil or baby oil. Lightly coat the baby’s scalp with it and let it soak in for a few hours, followed by brushing out the flakes. Dandruff shampoo is said to work like a charm, but consult the baby’s pediatrician before trying some, as it may be too abrasive for an infant.
Once a baby’s cradle cap is gone, it will not come back. Many infants merely grow out of it without ever receiving home treatment for it. It is usually harmless, although severe cases can cause a lot of itching for the baby. In those extreme cases, or if it lasts beyond six months of age, then notify the pediatrician. Otherwise, don’t worry about the baby’s cradle cap unless it really bothers you.