Does Cradle Cap Itch?

Does cradle cap itch?

Does Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) Cause Itch?

Cradle cap” generally isn’t itchy or irritating at all, but there are some cases in which it can itch, depending on who is affected and the condition’s severity.

Why Does Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) Itch?

Cradle cap in most cases, does not cause itching. However, in severe cradle cap due to the thick building-up of scales, inflammation and redness beneath the scales can cause mild itching. 

Infantile seborrheic dermatitis does not cause itching on the baby’s scalp, but seborrheic dermatitis in adults can cause itching due to the flakes. Scratching these flakes can lead to a never-ending itch-scratch cycle. 

How Do You Stop Cradle Cap From Itching?

Itching from cradle cap and seborrheic dermatitis are mostly mild and usually does not irritate the baby. But if your child is experiencing intense itching with the scaling and flaking, consult a pediatrician. 

There are chances that the baby may experience eczema (atopic dermatitis) at the same time. Don’t worry it is not abnormal to experience cradle cap and eczema simultaneously. The doctor will diagnose the condition and provide you with treatment according to it.

For soothing the itching associated with eczema, they may suggest the use of a daily eczema shampoo and moisturizing creams or even topical steroids.

What Is Cradle Cap?

“Cradle cap” is a colloquial name for infant seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is common in newborns and children up to three years old and causes white or yellow scales to form on the 

  • Scalp
  • Eyebrows
  • Forehead
  • On the ears

In the following areas there can be oozing pink plaques:

  • Diaper area
  • Armpits
  • Folds of the neck
  • Behind the ears 

In rare cases, baby cradle cap can cause cracked, irritated skin that oozes and itches.

Luckily, this skin condition isn’t contagious nor indicates poor care or hygiene. Most of the time, it just goes away all by itself, though your pediatrician may recommend using a cradle cap shampoo to help loosen and clear away the scales.

The most important thing to remember about cradle cap is that, even though it looks painful or irritating, it generally doesn’t bother children all that much.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap usually emerges when a child is between three weeks and 12 months old. The most common sign of cradle cap is a white, yellow, or light brown layer of oily, scaly skin, but it can also manifest as widespread patches of thick, scaly skin or red skin surrounded by pink patches. 

These patches may appear as pink or red on lighter skin tones, while they appear as brown or purple on darker skin tones.

While it usually occurs on the scalp or forehead, it can also show up on other body parts with a high density of sebum glands.

Some other common symptoms of cradle cap are:

  • Inflammation
  • Mild itching (in severe cases)
  • Thick crusty scales
  • Scalp oozing and smells odd (in severe cases)

When to See a Doctor About Cradle Cap

In most cases, cradle cap isn’t uncomfortable and will go away on its own, but in some cases, it may persist. However, you should see your pediatrician if:

  • This is your child’s first cradle cap flare-up.
  • You’ve had little or no success with home remedies.
  • Your child is missing hair in the flare-up areas.
  • The rash gets worse and covers a large part of the body.
  • The affected areas become red, inflamed, hot, or start to weep fluid.
  • Baby experiences intense itching with scales and flakes.
  • If there are any signs of infection on the scalp.

How to Soothe Cradle Cap at Home

Though there is not a permanent cure for cradle cap, known to doctors as “seborrheic dermatitis,” you can help loosen scales by cleaning the scalp with a gentle non-medicated baby shampoo. 

However, to soothe skin, remove the scales fast, and prevent future flare-ups, use a gentle medicated shampoo for cradle cap.

Cradle Cap Shampoo

cradle cap before and after

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash helps eliminate the recurrence of scalp and skin flaking, scaling, itching, and redness associated with seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff.  As you now know cradle cap is seborrheic dermatitis. 

Happy Cappy utilizes an active ingredient called  Pyrithione Zinc, which targets the yeasts that may contribute to the flaking. Made with 95% natural ingredients, Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash is also hypoallergenic, dye-free, non-comedogenic, non-irritating, fragrance-free, and paraben-free, making it ideal for use on sensitive young skin.

  • Apply Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash during bath time once per day. 
  • Before rinsing, gently massage the affected areas with your fingertips to help loosen the scales. 
  • Once the scales clear, repeat the process every two to three days to help prevent future build-up.

Cradle Cap Brush

To get rid of scales fast, use a cradle cap brush while giving your baby a bath. Brush the baby’s scalp in circular motions while shampooing. This will help remove the loose scales easily.

Especially if you are not a big fan of using your fingertips or a washcloth on the baby’s scalp, then a cradle cap brush like Happy Cappy Cradle Cap Beanie Brush can be your companion. It is easy to grip, easy-to-use, and travel-friendly, so you can take it anywhere you go.

It is a pediatrician-created brush, so you can rest assured that it is safe for babies, toddlers, and adults.

Key Points

  • Cradle cap usually does not itch, but in some cases, usually in severe cases, it can cause itching.
  • Itching in cradle cap on babies is less common. However, seborrheic dermatitis in adults can cause mild itching.
  • Cradle cap causes thick, yellow, brown, or white flakes and scales on the scalp.
  • You can easily soothe the flaking, scaling, and redness associated with cradle cap and prevent future build-up using a cradle cap shampoo and cradle cap brush. 


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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 can I stop the cradle cap from itching?

The cradle cap is usually not itchy, but sometimes, the cradle cap may cause a little irritation and itch due to the thick scales. The best way to manage the itch is by cleaning the scalp daily with a medicated cradle cap shampoo. This will help loosen up and remove the scales.

What happens if a baby’s cradle cap is scratched?

It is always advised to avoid scratching or picking at the scales. Scratching can cause other skin issues, such as infection. Wash your baby’s scalp daily with a gentle, medicated shampoo to lose the scales. Use a cradle cap brush to gently comb and loosen the scales during the bath.

Can cradle cap affect baby’s hair growth?

The cradle cap does not affect the baby’s hair growth. But picking or scratching the scales can loosen the hair follicles and lead to temporary hair loss.

What are the common causes of itchy scalp?

Certain conditions may cause your scalp to itch, such as head lice, eczema, dandruff, and hives.

Can petroleum jelly help with cradle caps?

No, petroleum jelly can be harmful for cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis. It provides an environment for the growth of Malassezia yeast, which can further worsen the condition.

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