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Cradle Cap In Newborn: Parents Guide To Managing Cradle Cap

Cradle Cap In Newborn: Parents Guide To Managing Cradle Cap

So there you are with all the pregnancy worries gone and you are enjoying your time with your little bundle of joy. But then all of a sudden, you notice thick, greasy, crusty scales forming on your baby’s scalp and wonder what these could be.

It’s cradle cap. Don’t worry, your baby is not the only one experiencing it. Cradle cap in newborn is very common. It is not contagious or harmful. This blog provides you with an insight into cradle cap in babies and everything you should know about it.

What Is Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) in Newborns?

Cradle cap also known as seborrheic dermatitis in adults is a common skin condition in newborns. Babies experience it in the first few months of their life. It causes greasy crusty yellow or brown patches on the baby’s scalp. 

It mostly appears on the scalp but can also appear on the eyebrows, eyelids, and forehead. It causes moist red spots in the armpits and behind the ears and in the folds of the diaper area. Most of the time it disappears before the baby turns one with proper care and attention. But sometimes it may persist. 

Cradle cap comes by many names like honeycomb disease, crib cap, milk crust, pityriasis capitis, and infantile seborrheic dermatitis. Due to its flaky appearance and redness on the scalp, it is often confused with other skin conditions like dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis. 

What Does Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) Look Like

What Does Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) Look Like

Cradle cap scales may look similar on all skin types. However, the skin beneath the scales may appear red or pink in babies with lighter skin tones. And in darker skin tones it may be darker than the skin color or brown. 

We have listed the most common symptoms of cradle cap so you can determine what cradle cap looks like. 

  • Mild inflammation
  • Greasy, crusty scales on the scalp.
  • Yellow or brown thick scales that may flake off
  • Redness

Why do Babies get Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis)?

If you are thinking why do babies get cradle cap, the researchers are thinking the same. The exact cause of cradle cap is still not known. But it is believed to be caused by a combination of factors, such as:

  • Overactive sebaceous glands

Sebaceous glands present on our skin are responsible for producing oil-like substances called sebum. When these glands produce excess oil the malassezia yeast mixes up with it and produces an irritating byproduct that causes crusting and flaking. 

  • Hormones

Some hormones of the mother stay in the baby’s body after birth. These hormones can make the sebaceous glands overactive, as a result, they start producing more sebum. This causes the old skin cells to stick to the scalp as scales rather than falling off.

  • Malassezia yeast

Malassezia yeast is a type of fungus that is naturally present on the skin. When this yeast combines with the sebum on the scalp it causes flakes. This is the same yeast that is responsible for causing dandruff in adults. 

Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) Treatment for Newborn

Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) Treatment for Newborn

Infantile seborrheic dermatitis usually goes away on its own within a few months but many people may prefer not to look at it. And it can be irritating to your baby. 

Cradle cap is caused by something that is not in your control.  There is no permanent cure available for cradle cap. But you can easily alleviate flaking, scaling, and irritation associated with it by following a few simple steps. 

  • Regular Washing

The first step to try and remedy a mild case of cradle cap is regularly washing the baby’s hair with a non-medicated shampoo of your choosing. 

Keeping the scalp clean with a non-medicated shampoo will help remove extra oil from the baby’s scalp. Excess oil or moisture in the scalp can worsen the condition.

Washing the scalp with a shampoo every day will also help loosen up and remove the scale. 

If you are looking for faster resolution consider a medicated shampoo for cradle cap

A medicated shampoo helps stop recurrence of scalp flaking and scaling associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

Initially, the doctor may prescribe the use of shampoo on a daily basis but once the symptoms are relieved the use can be tapered to 2 to 3 times a week.

  • Brush 

Another way to manage is by using a cradle cap brush. But remember this should be done carefully as the baby’s scalp is very delicate and vigorous brushing can cause loss of hair and infection. 

Use a soft-bristled brush or a cradle cap comb to gently brush the hair and remove the scales. The best time to do this is during the bath when the scales have become soft. 

Using a cradle cap brush with a medicated shampoo can work wonders. 

  • Consult A Doctor

If you suspect that the symptoms are not controlled by the steps mentioned above or the condition is getting worse or is spreading to other parts of the body consult a doctor. 

Diagnosing skin conditions can be tricky. If you are unsure about the skin condition your baby is experiencing then you should consult your pediatrician. There can be overlap between seborrheic dermatitis and eczema (atopic dermatitis) that makes diagnosis less clear cut.  A physician can help evaluate the issue and formulate a plan of action.

Choosing The Right Cradle Cap Shampoo For Babies

Choosing The Right Cradle Cap Shampoo For Babies

Babies have delicate and sensitive skin. It is essential to choose the right products for them as products with harmful chemicals can cause dry skin, irritation, and rashes on baby’s skin.

While searching for the best cradle cap shampoo for your baby, it is best to select a shampoo that is free from fragrances, dyes, parabens, and sulfates. 

Shampoos that are specially formulated for baby cradle cap like Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo are a great option to choose from. 

Happy Cappy Medicated shampoo, face and body wash helps eliminate scalp and skin flaking, itching, irritation, redness and scaling associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

Dr. Eddie has developed this cradle cap shampoo that is suitable for babies, adults, toddlers, and teenagers at the same time. It contains pyrithione zinc as an active ingredient that is known to be effective in managing cradle cap, seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff.

Key Points

  • Cradle cap in newborns is a common skin condition.
  • It is not contagious or harmful to the baby.
  • It can easily be managed by regularly washing the baby’s hair with a shampoo for cradle cap.
  • Never pick at scales.

Shop Happy Cappy Products today and fight flakes effectively.


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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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How to fix Cradle Cap on a newborn?

The medical term for cradle cap is “seborrheic dermatitis.” The best way to manage cradle cap in newborns is by keeping their scalp clean and washing their hair regularly with a shampoo. If looking for resolution of symptoms associated with seborrheic dermatitis a medicated cradle cap shampoo is an excellent choice. Choose a cradle cap shampoo that is fragrance-free, paraben-free, dye-free, and specially formulated for the sensitive skin of the baby.

What triggers cradle cap in newborns?

Mother’s hormones that stay in the baby’s body even after birth sometimes cause the sebaceous glands to become overactive and produce excess sebum. The sebum interacts with a yeast on the scalp and causes irritation. This results in cradle cap.

Can breastmilk help with cradle cap in babies?

It is not dangerous to apply breast milk to a baby’s scalp or scales but there are more effective ways to handle cradle cap.

What will make the cradle cap worse in newborns?

Never pick on scales or forcefully remove them as this will not only worsen the condition but can also cause infection.
Using products with harsh chemicals on the baby’s scalp can also make the condition worse.

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