Cradle Cap (dandruff or infantile seborrheic dermatitis)

 cradle cap symptoms, cause and treatment in newborn

1.      What is cradle cap?
2.      Is cradle cap harmful?
3.      How cradle cap is formed?
4.      Treatment of cradle cap
5.      How long it will take for cradle cap to go away?
6.      Precaution to be taken at home
7.      When to see doctor for cradle cap?


What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is skin condition commonly seen in newborns and children as old as 3 and is characterized by areas of yellowish or brownish scales on the top of the head. Some babies may just get scales in small patches; other may have scales all over their heads. In some uncommon case, cradle cap can occur on the eyebrow, ears, crease of the nose or armpits.

In medical science, doctors call this infantile seborrheic dermatitis. In older children, this is called dandruff.


Is cradle cap harmful?

Cradle cap can make parents very uncomfortable, but it is usually harmless to the healthy development of the baby. It will usually go away on its own. 

Only in some very severe and persistent cases, doctor may prescribe some medicated shampoo and lotion.

Cradle cap is not contagious also.  

Though it might look to be uncomfortable or irritating to the skin, cradle cap generally doesn't bother kids.


How cradle cap is formed?

First, cradle cap is not an indication of poor hygiene.

Scientists so far cannot confirm the exact cause of cradle cap.

Some researchers believe that cradle cap occurs due to overproduction of skin oil in the oil glands in the hair follicles.

Researchers also suggest that high hormone level may be another factor in contributing to the occurrence of cradle cap.

Oily skin or other skin disorders can also contribute to the occurrence of cradle cap.


Treatment of cradle cap

Washing your baby's scalp daily with mild shampoo can help to loosen and remove the scales caused by cradle cap. You can increase the frequency of shampooing to once a day, but be sure to rinse out all the shampoo.

After shampooing, you can gentle brush your baby’s scalp with a soft brush or towel.

If your baby’s cradle cap does not diminish over time, you may want to apply natural oil like olive oil or almond oil on your baby’s scalp and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes. This will soften the scale.

Gentle comb out the flake with a fine-tooth comb or brush the flake out with a soft brush. Do remember to rinse all oil after that. 


How long it will take for cradle cap to go away?

Very often, it will go away in few weeks or months. In most cases, it should disappear when your child reaches one year old.


Precaution to be taken at home

Never peel the scales as this will leave raw patches that can easily get infected. Parents should let the scales fall off on their own.

Be patient, even with help of natural oil, you cannot remove all scales at once.

Furthermore, when washing your baby’s clothes, use a mild detergent instead of a harsh chemical.

Keep the head of your baby cool. This will prevent accumulation of sweat and worsening of the cradle cap.


When to see doctor for cradle cap?

In the following cases, you can consider taking your child to see a doctor:

1. Cradle cap is severe and persistent, it spreads out beyond baby’s scalp.

2. There is bleeding.

3. There is redness which does not go away. This could be an indication of infection.

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