Baby cradle cap is a name given to a condition that's quite common in babies and very young children. Baby cradle cap is the result of the oil glands on the scalp and face becoming overactive and this results in a kind of dandruff on the scalp. Although no one understands quite why it happens, it’s generally believed to be due to hormonal changes in the baby. The good news is that there are several ways of dealing with baby cradle cap. Don't be alarmed by cradle cap—it's a perfectly natural condition that’s not infectious.
One remedy is to wash your baby’s hair more frequently to get rid of cradle cap. Use a gentle baby shampoo, as you normally would, then follow up with a soft brush to remove all the flakes of dandruff.
In some instances, this will remove the baby cradle cap completely although it might return at a later stage. In more persistent cases, the following remedies will help you get rid of baby cradle cap for good.
Mineral oil (you can also use baby oil) is a good treatment for baby cradle cap. Rub it in lightly and let it sit for 15 minutes before brushing out all the flakes. However, some people argue that all you’re doing is adding more oil to an already-oily scalp so it doesn’t actually help. Even so, generations of mothers who have used it as a treatment might disagree. If you don’t want to use mineral oil, try olive oil instead.
There are special medicated shampoos available to treat baby cradle cap, but you’ll need a prescription from your pediatrician to obtain them. However, before you use them, you should be aware that they contain sulphur, which is commonly used for treating dandruff, and salicylic acid, which is the main constituent in aspirin. Together, those two ingredients can dry the scalp and cause irritation.
A lot of mothers have used petroleum jelly as a way of treating baby cradle cap. To apply, just smear very lightly on the baby’s scalp, cover with a cap and leave. Brush off in the evening after you’ve bathed and shampooed your baby.
Some doctors feel that adding omega 3 oil to a baby’s diet will act as an anti-inflammatory and reduce or eliminate baby cradle cap. You need a pharmaceutical grade fish oil and should make sure the baby doesn’t have more than 500 milligrams each day until the problem has gone. After that, keep omega 3 in the diet but stop using fish oil.
Baby cradle cap can spread from the scalp into the folds of skin around the face such as under the chin or behind the ears. If this happens, consult your pediatrician about prescribing a hydrocortisone cream. This will treat both the redness and the baby cradle cap and stop it spreading further.
Where the skin affected by baby cradle cap becomes itchy and red, this might be due to a yeast infection and needs to be treated separately. It will be apparent from your baby being very uncomfortable and the rash spreading. The infection will require an anti-fungal cream to stop it.