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Pediatrician’s Guide to Using a Cradle Cap Brush for Babies

Pediatrician's Guide to Using a Cradle Cap Brush for Babies

You may have heard about cradle cap or even seen it on another baby’s scalp, but now that your baby is experiencing it, what should you do about it? How does one get rid of cradle cap? Is there a shampoo for that? Should I consult a doctor? Many questions suddenly pop into your mind. 

In your search for ways to get rid of the cradle cap you may have read about using a soft cloth, a cradle cap brush or a cradle cap comb to help manage the condition. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what a cradle cap brush is and how to use one.

What Is Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis)?

You might already know what cradle cap is and what it looks like, but hear what expert pediatrician Dr. Eddie has to say about it. “Sometimes there can be just a few flakes on the head and eyebrows and sometimes it can cover a large part of the scalp and there can be red weeping lesions behind the ears. There is a wide range of presentations when it comes to seborrheic dermatitis.” 

cradle cap is often called seborrheic dermatitis. That first word is pronounced “seb-o-REE-ik.” It is a common skin condition that affects 40% to 50% of babies in the first year of their life.

It usually appears as 

  • Thick, greasy yellow, or brown crusty, scaly patches on the baby’s scalp. 
  • However, it can also appear on the baby’s eyebrows.
  • It causes red, moist rashes in the folds of the neck, behind the ears, and in the groin folds.
  • It may also cause pink spots on the chest, back, and belly button.

It is believed to be caused by overproduction of sebum. Sebum is an oily substance naturally present on the baby’s scalp, but when the sebaceous glands start producing excess sebum. It mixes up with a yeast that is naturally present on the scalp (called Malassezia) and results in redness, flaking, and scaling.

What To Do If Your Baby Has Cradle Cap?

If your baby is experiencing cradle cap it might go away in a few weeks or months, but there are chances it may persist. Either way, you can relieve the scaling and flaking associated with cradle cap in babies in a few simple ways. 

Non-medicated Shampoo 

The first step is washing the hair.  It keeps the scalp clean and removes excess oil. If you are reading this article, you may have already done this and ready for the fix.

Cradle Cap Shampoo

Want to get rid of it quickly? The first and most important thing that most pediatricians and pediatric dermatologists also advise to manage cradle cap (seborrheic dermatitis) is to wash the affected areas with a medicated cradle cap shampoo. It will help soothe flaking, scaling, and redness related to cradle cap and can prevent future build-up of scales. 

Use a medicated shampoo that is specially formulated for babies sensitive skin and scalp and does not contain harsh ingredients. A cradle cap shampoo that contains Pyrithione Zinc as the active ingredient is one of the best choices when looking at cradle cap shampoo.

Pyrithione zinc is very effective in soothing scaling, flaking, and redness associated with seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.

  • Wash your baby’s scalp with a shampoo for cradle cap every day until the symptoms are improved for a maximum of 1 to 2 weeks.
  • If there is a lot of scale and flakes, leave the shampoo in place for 2-3 minutes before rinsing. 
  • Once the scaling and flaking are under control, taper the use 2 to 3 times a week. 
  • Gently massage the scales with your fingertips while shampooing to loosen them.
  • Rinse thoroughly after shampooing and leave no residue on the scalp.

Cradle Cap Brush

Have you always been a fan of using a loofah sponge or washcloths and not keen on using just your fingers? Looking for extra help exfoliating? Then, the next thing you can do to manage the cradle cap is use a cradle cap brush. It can help in removing the scales. Let’s dive a little deeper into what cradle cap brush is and how to use it.

What Is A Cradle Cap Brush?

A cradle cap brush is a brush that is specially made to help reduce scaling and flaking associated with cradle cap. They may look similar to a normal baby brush, but cradle cap brushes have soft bristles that are made from natural fibres, rubber, or food-grade silicone.

These soft bristles help in brushing away the scales of cradle cap in babies. 

These brushes come in all shapes and sizes and can be flimsy, lightweight, or sturdy and ergonomically designed. Pick one that is easy to use, clean, and sanitize afterwards. 

These brushes are safe to be used on both newborn babies and toddlers and, of course, can be purchased for adult use as well. 

A cradle cap brush can be incorporated into your little one’s bathtime to help remove excess scales and buildup associated with cradle cap. Some families also use cradle cap brushes out of the bath to do “dry brushing”, which is said to improve circulation and can be calming, like a massage. 

How To Use Cradle Cap Brush?

How To Use Cradle Cap Brush?

Now that you know what cradle cap brush is, let’s learn how to use it properly.

  • For best results, apply a medicated shampoo for cradle cap on your baby’s scalp or directly onto the brush.
  • Now gently massage the scalp and baby’s hair with a cradle cap brush in a circular motion–this will create a lather with the shampoo. 
  • You may notice some scales and flakes coming off the scalp.
  • Rinse and pat dry. 
  • Do this 2 to 3 times a week to gradually exfoliate the cradle cap scales and flakes.

Some people may also advise massaging the baby’s head with oil and then removing the scales with a cradle cap brush or cradle cap comb. But leaving oil on a baby’s scalp can worsen their cradle cap because Malessezia yeast thrives on oil. The author of this article does not recommend the use of coconut or any other oil.  

Don’ts Of Cradle Cap

  • Don’t pick or scratch on scales.
  • Don’t vigorously brush the baby’s scalp and hair.
  • Don’t forcefully remove hard, stubborn scales.
  • Don’t leave any oil on the baby’s scalp, as it can worsen the condition.

When To Consult A Pediatrician

If you notice that your baby’s cradle cap is not getting better with the use of cradle cap shampoo and brush or is getting worse and spreading to other parts of the body, then it is best to consult your child’s pediatrician.

Some other common skin conditions in babies, like eczema (atopic dermatitis), may look similar to cradle cap. The pediatrician will be able to properly diagnose the condition and provide a treatment plan according to it. 


Cradle cap, also known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis, may sound like a difficult thing to deal with. But you can easily soothe flaking, scaling, and redness associated with cradle cap on your baby by keeping their scalp, hair, and affected area clean with a cradle cap shampoo and body wash.

For help loosening the scales, you can use a baby brush, technically known as a cradle cap brush. These brushes are designed to lift and remove cradle cap flakes. It is safe to be used on babies’ and toddlers’ sensitive skin. 

Use a cradle cap brush to gently loosen and remove the scales from the baby’s scalp while shampooing. A cradle cap brush can also be used out of the bath to improve circulation and as a calming massage. 

Happy Cappy Shampoo For Cradle Cap

Happy Cappy Shampoo For Cradle Cap

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash is specially formulated for babies, toddlers, and children and helps eliminate redness, scaling, and flaking associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

It contains Pyrithione Zinc as an active ingredient that has been around for many decades and is safe for babies. 

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo, face wash, and body wash is infused with natural ingredients like licorice root extract, provitamin B5, and apple fruit extract to help soothe redness and keep your baby’s scalp healthy.

The best thing about this shampoo is it’s free from fragrances, dyes, parabens, sulfate, gluten and is dermatologist-tested.

Shop at Happy Cappy to make your baby’s scalp healthy and flake-free.


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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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Can you use cradle cap brush on a newborn?

Yes, cradle cap brushes are specially made for babies and toddlers. They have soft bristles and are made of materials that are safe to use on a baby’s scalp.

How does a cradle cap brush work?

You can gently brush your baby’s scalp while shampooing. The close bristles of cradle cap brush when rubbed on the baby’s scalp remove excess flakes and loosen scales. 

Can brushing cradle cap cause hair loss?

Hair loss is common in the first 4 months of life and can be worse when there is cradle cap. Overly vigorous rubbing with a brush may cause accelerated hair loss. The hair loss is temporary and will eventually grow back. 

Can you use a cradle cap brush on a dry scalp or body?

Yes, cradle cap brushes can be used on a dry scalp. But if you are aiming to remove scales with the help of cradle cap brush then it is best to use it on wet hair in conjunction with a medicated shampoo. 


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