What is the difference between Cradle Cap and Dandruff

By Dr. Eddie Valenzuela

Your baby has soft, delicate skin that’s easily irritated. So, when flaky skin starts appearing on their head, you may understandably begin to get worried. Are these flakes a sign of dandruff or “cradle cap”? What’s the difference between “cradle cap” and dandruff, anyway?

The main difference between “cradle cap”, generally referred to as seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff is severity. Dandruff is just a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis.

Is It Seborrheic Dermatitis or Dandruff?

You can tell the difference between the two related skin conditions by the symptoms.

Seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by:

  • Redness
  • Yellow crusting
  • Scaling
  • Peeling skin
  • Flakes
  • Pink patches

These sections of irritated skin can show up almost anywhere on the body, but generally appear on the head, around the eyebrows and nose, behind the ears, in neck folds, and in the diaper area.

Dandruff, on the other hand, is characterized by fine, white scales presenting without redness. In some cases, dandruff might also cause itching and oily flakes on the scalp, eyebrows, or clothing.

What Causes “Cradle Cap” and Dandruff?

As dandruff is just a more severe form of seborrheic dermatitis, or “cradle cap”, it can be said that seborrheic dermatitis causes dandruff.

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis isn’t clear, but doctors theorize that overactive sebaceous glands or a fungus called Malassezia might be factors.

The sebaceous glands in the skin produce an oil called sebum. If the sebaceous glands make too much sebum, the naturally occurring yeasts on the skin that live off the sebum also go into overdrive, causing a buildup of irritating byproducts that lead to the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.

Malassezia is a yeast-like fungus that naturally lives on the scalp. The visible manifestation of irritated skin is flaking and scaling.

Treating “Cradle Cap” and Dandruff

Whether or not your baby gets “cradle cap” and dandruff isn’t in your control. However, you can use certain products, like a shampoo for cradle cap relief, to care for your baby’s skin to help clear up flakes, ease symptoms, and possibly prevent future flakes and scales from developing.

Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body wash is a shampoo for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis that’s specifically made with 95% natural ingredients to be gentle enough for sensitive young skin. Featuring active ingredient, FDA-approved pyrithione zinc, this shampoo fights flakes associated with dandruff. It also combines provitamin B5 to hydrate hair and skin and licorice root to soothe redness.

When seeking relief from cradle cap or dandruff it is advisable to find a cradle cap shampoo that avoids fragrance, dyes, parabens and irritating cleansers known as sulfates. Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash avoids all of these common skin irritants while soothing and smoothing your child’s skin.

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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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Are dandruff and cradle caps the same?

Even though dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis, also known as cradle cap in babies, the symptoms of both conditions are different. Dandruff causes tiny white or gray scales on the scalp, while cradle cap causes yellow or brownish thick, crusty scales on the scalp.

Can dandruff and cradle cap be treated the same way?

Both skin conditions are caused by Malssezia yeast. This is why a medicated shampoo containing pyrithione zinc can treat dandruff and cradle caps. It should be used daily to fight flaking and scaling associated with these conditions.

Can cradle cap cause dandruff?

Dandruff is a mild form of cradle cap. Or it is another name for severe dandruff. So, both conditions belong to the same family yet have different symptoms.

What is worse, dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis?

Dandruff is a mild form of seborrheic dermatitis it causes itching and flaking. While seborrheic dermatitis is worse, it is a severe case of dandruff as it causes inflammation, and the flaking and scaling worsen.

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