Cradle cap is very common in babies. It is not harmful, and it does not bother them at all. It is also self limiting, meaning it will eventually go away in its own. But most parents want to get rid of it right away due to the appearance of the flaky, yellow scales.
It may be vain, but I can’t stand to see cradle crap on my babies, so I have always treated my children at the first sign of cradle cap. It can also spread to the face and ears, so that is another reason to stay on top of it.
How to get rid of cradle cap
The easiest way to get rid of cradle cap is to wash your baby’s hair daily with a mild baby shampoo, paying extra attention to scaly patches. I like this DermaFrida for massaging your baby’s scalp when you shampoo their hair.
If daily shampooing doesn’t clear up the cradle cap, you can try using oil. Just massage oil into the scales and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
You can use baby oil, coconut oil, or even olive oil. The oil helps to soften the scales making them easier to remove.
Work the oil into your baby’s scalp really well using your finger tips. After it has set a while, you can brush the scales with a soft toothbrush and comb them out with a fine tooth comb. This should be easy and should not cause discomfort to your baby. This Safety 1st combination brush and comb for cradle cap is perfect for the job.
Once you have removed the cradle cap with your brush and comb, wash your baby’s hair as normal. If you did not manage to remove all the crust, don’t worry. You can always repeat the oil treatment before the next wash.
*Oil is the only treatment that I recommend using if your baby has cradle cap on their face. This is usually around the forehead and eyebrows, so I am not comfortable recommending anything beyond oil. Always talk to your pediatrician if the cradle cap has spread beyond the scalp.*
If oil treatments do not get rid of your baby’s cradle cap, you can use over the counter dandruff shampoo like Head & Shoulders.
To use the dandruff shampoo method, simply rub the shampoo into your child’s scalp and let it sit for five minutes. Then rinse the shampoo out. Be very careful not to get shampoo into their eyes.
You can use dandruff shampoo twice a week until their scalp has cleared up. Dandruff shampoos are not approved for daily use in children under two. Use baby shampoo the other days.
Once you have cleared up your baby’s cradle cap, continue shampooing their hair with a gentle baby shampoo daily. Frequent washing is the most effective way to treat prevent cradle cap from coming back.
If these treatments fail to clear up your baby’s cradle cap, or if the symptoms worsen in any way, call your pediatrician. Also, if you notice the skin behind your baby’s ears has become tender and red, apply Lotrimin (clotrimazole 1% found in the foot care aisle) cream three times a day to clear up any yeast that may be present.
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