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Are these flakes on my baby’s head dandruff?

Are these flakes on my baby’s head dandruff?

Don’t be alarmed if you notice flakes on your baby’s head! The most common cause of flakes on babies’ heads, eyebrows, or ears is a skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis.

A more intense version of dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is a mild sloughing of the topmost layer of skin that is characterized by itching and flaking almost anywhere on the body, but particularly around oil-producing glands like 

  • On the neck folds
  • Diaper area
  • Armpits
  • Head

Some cases of seborrheic dermatitis called “cradle cap,” can cause scaling, redness, yellow crusting, inflammation, or irritation. You haven’t done anything wrong if your baby develops seborrheic dermatitis. It’s not contagious or caused by inadequate care. Plus, it’s pretty easy to treat with a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo.

What If It’s Not Seborrheic Dermatitis?

There are a few other potential causes for flakes on a baby’s head, including:

  • Newborn skin peeling
  • Eczema
  • Ichthyosis
  • Psoriasis

It is almost universal that newborns will have thin, peeling, dry skin right after birth. However, unlike seborrheic dermatitis, newborn skin peeling won’t be concentrated in specific areas nor manifest in conjunction with thick crusting or discoloration. Also, newborn skin peeling is most common in the first 1 to 4 weeks of life, while seborrheic dermatitis mainly affects children from 1 to 12 months old.

If the flakes on your baby’s head were caused by eczema, there would also most likely be itchy, red, and dry spots on other parts of the body beyond the scalp, such as 

  • On the cheeks
  • Elbows
  • Knees

Similarly, ichthyosis is a dry skin condition that occurs on large parts of the body. If it were ichthyosis, you would see flaking and dry skin on your baby’s body’s arms, legs, and even the whole trunk. It is essential to note ichthyosis is rare.

Finally, if the head flakes were Psoriasis, you would see many other symptoms beyond flaking. Psoriasis would also cause sharply defined, red rashes with thick, white scales. Psoriasis is more common than ichthyosis but is rare in the first year after birth.

1 in 3 Babies Will Develop Seborrheic Dermatitis

If your baby has flakes on his head, it is most likely seborrheic dermatitis. 1 in 3 babies will develop this condition in the first year of life, which means about 1.4 million babies yearly. Seborrheic dermatitis is very easy to treat, making it a good diagnosis before jumping to more severe conditions. If your baby’s flakes worsen or worsen, consult your pediatrician.

Soothe Your Baby’s Flakes

Seborrheic dermatitis, or “cradle cap,” isn’t something you cause or can prevent, but it is something you can quickly soothe. A medicated cradle cap shampoo is a great way to help relieve cradle cap flaking.

Made with the active ingredient pyrithione zinc, Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash is designed to control seborrheic dermatitis. Happy Cappy is also: 

  • Hypoallergenic
  • Fragrance-free
  • Non-irritating
  • Paraben-free 

Gently wash your baby’s head daily with Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash. Before rinsing, massage the scalp with your fingertips or a washcloth to help loosen the scales and flakes. After the scales fade, repeat the process every two to three days to help prevent a future flake build-up.

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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