Cradle Cap – How to Treat

What-is-Cradle-CapNow that you have read the article cradle cap on babies, and learned about Malassezia the yeast that causes cradle cap, the next thought will turn to cradle cap how to treat it.

There are steps you can take to ease the flaking, crusting and scaling associated with cradle cap. A gentle medicated baby shampoo for Cradle Cap containing Pyrithione Zinc (zinc pyrithione) is an excellent way to quickly soothe the symptoms associated with cradle cap. You should know that the medical term for cradle cap is “seborrheic dermatitis.”

Gently wash your baby’s head every day with a mild baby shampoo. Mild is the operative word, one should avoid shampoos with harsh ingredients.  Look for products that may be described as hypoallergenic which means no added fragrance, no added dye, no parabens (a preservative that can irritate broken skin), and as an added benefit that product should be free of sulfates (surfactants that can dry the skin excessively).

A gentle shampoo for cradle cap will cleanse thoroughly without irritating the delicate skin of your infant.After creating a lather on the scalp, and before rinsing the shampoo off, loosen the scales by massaging with your fingertips or a wash cloth. In the e-commerce world you will find many a brush for cradle cap, but depending on the shampoo used for cradle cap the condition may not require the purchase of a brush. Once you notice the scales have disappeared, wash the scalp and skin every 2-3 days to prevent the recurrence of scale build up.

When thinking about cradle cap how to treat, don’t be tempted to leave shampoo or oils on the scalp, as they could irritate the skin excessively or potentially the oils could be a food source for the causative agent–the yeast Malassezia.  Always rinse thoroughly.

For scales on the scalp that don’t easily wash away, resist the urge to pick them off with your fingers or an electric toothbrush because it could open the door to infection.Your older neighbor with grandkids or best friend may recommend applying petroleum jelly or sleeping in mineral oil overnight, but again this sometimes worsens the problem and your bassinet or crib will be an oily mess.

When doing internet investigations on cradle cap how to treat, hold off on using over-the-counter (OTC) cortisone or anti-fungal creams without talking to your baby’s doctor. If there is a lot of broken irritated skin most pediatricians will avoid suggesting a dandruff shampoo with salicylic acid. If your pediatrician, suggests other adult dandruff shampoos, keep in mind that they may be unaware of the existence of hypoallergenic cradle cap shampoos. We advise asking the staff at your doctor’s office for their opinion.


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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 I moisturize the cradle cap?

Yes, you can moisturize the cradle cap with a non-greasy moisturizing cream. But it is best to consult a dermatologist before it. As every baby is different, so is their cradle cap.

Can I leave the oil on my baby’s scalp to loosen the cradle cap?

Never leave the oil on your baby’s scalp for too long if they are experiencing cradle cap. Even if you are shampooing, ensure no residue is left behind after washing the scalp, as this can worsen the cradle cap.

Should I treat the cradle cap or not?

The cradle cap can sometimes clear up independently, even without treatment in a few weeks. But sometimes, it persists and needs proper care and attention. You can use a cradle cap shampoo to manage the cradle cap, which can help reduce the flaking and associated scaling.

Can cradle cap spread to other parts of the body if not treated?

Yes, sometimes the cradle cap may become severe and spread to other body parts such as the face, neck, and ears. So if you suspect that your baby is experiencing cradle cap, it is best to consult a dermatologist as they can diagnose it properly and provide you with the best solution.

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