Cradle cap is usually just a cosmetic commission.
Cradle cap treatment is something a parent can do to minimize the unsightly appearance of seborrheic dermatitis, commonly called cradle cap. Cradle cap occurs when hormones from the mother enter the placenta just before the baby's birth. The hormones over stimulate the glands in the babys scalp, which then produce a greasy substance. This substance combines with the normal flakes that the scalp sloughs off and makes them hard to remove. According to The American Academy of Pediatrics, cradle cap typically manifests in the first few months of life and in most cases is gone by the childs first birthday. It sometimes returns during puberty. Cradle cap is not caused by poor hygiene or an allergy, and it isnt contagious. There is no way to predict if a baby will have cradle cap.
Medline Plus, a service of the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, reports that cradle cap looks like scaly, somewhat greasy flakes of skin on the scalp. Sometimes yellowish or brown in appearance, it also can appear just dry and flaky. A pediatrician makes a diagnosis by simply observing the condition of the scalp; no testing is required. Scales that appear on the nose, ears, eyelids and groin are other indications of seborrheic dermatitis.
Cradle cap is relatively harmless and is usually more of a cosmetic concern than a medical issue. Eventually the condition rectifies itself as the baby gets older. Shampooing more often with a mild baby shampoo is sometimes enough to minimize flaking. Combing the babys hair thoroughly after washing, and several times each day, also helps to remove flakes.
One remedy is to apply a small amount of petroleum jelly, baby oil or olive oil onto the childs scalp. Rub it in gently with a rough washcloth, a soft brush (like a babys hairbrush or a toothbrush) or the fingertips. The soft spot on the baby's head where the skull hasnt fused together yet is covered by a thick membrane to protect the brain, but should still be treated extra gently. This can be done up to an hour before washing the babys hair to help loosen the flakes. Since most of a babys heat is lost through the scalp, wrap the babys head in warm towels to keep his head warm. Change the towels often as they cool. Before shampooing, use a fine-toothed comb to gently remove loose flakes, but leave any flakes still attached to the scalp. A break in the skin or picking at flakes could lead to infection, or at the very least, an unnecessary sore spot on the babys head.
It is important to remove all the oil from the babys hair and scalp to prevent the pores from clogging. Oil left on the scalp will also cause the flakes to stick, making the problem appear even worse. Apply a gentle baby shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the use of an adult dandruff shampoo to help lessen the appearance of cradle cap in moderate to severe cases. These shampoos, unlike baby shampoos, can cause irritation if they get in the babys eyes, so extra caution is necessary. Pediatricians sometimes also recommend a shampoo with tar, or prescribe a shampoo that contains salicylic acid or sulfur, both known for their ability to cure dandruff. Use these strong products with care so as not to irritate or dry out the babys scalp.
Shampoo daily while cradle cap is present to help control the oil. Over time, the glands in the babys scalp will adjust and the overproduction of oil will cease. Once the appearance of flakes disappears, shampooing twice a week with a mild baby shampoo is usually sufficient.
There are no remedies to completely cure an infants cradle cap. The baby will outgrow the condition. It is also normal for cradle cap to go away for a few months, only to return. A pediatrician should examine the child if cradle cap extends beyond the scalp to other parts of the body, or when the scalp appears red and inflamed. A pediatrician should also examine a child older than three who suddenly manifests symptoms of cradle cap. It is possible for other ailments to resemble cradle cap.
A doctor may prescribe a mild cortisone cream if the child appears uncomfortable or is scratching his or her head. The cortisone cream is applied daily or every other day to minimum redness and itching.