Is your little one suffering with cradle cap? Cradle cap is a common skin condition that affects young babies and appears as thick, waxy, yellow crusts on the baby’s scalp. It’s not contagious but you probably aren’t too keen on how it looks. Here’s more info to help you deal with it and hopefully get rid of it.
What is Cradle cap?
Cradle cap is a common skin condition that affects young babies. However, it is commonly present in the first three months of life, and is rare after the age of one year. A form of seborrheic dermatitis, cradle cap appears as thick, waxy, yellow crusts on the baby's scalp and the eyebrows. If your baby has cradle cap, they may have:
- Yellow, greasy, waxy scales or flakes on the scalp, or sometimes the eyebrows
- Reddening of the skin, which sometimes occurs due to eczema developing underneath the cradle cap
Most importantly, it's not painful, itchy [see section below] contagious or caused by poor hygiene and usually clears by itself after a few months, Babies with cradle cap are otherwise well. However, many parents prefer to remove the crusts because they don’t like how it looks.
What causes Cradle cap?
Although the cause is unknown, several factors may play a role in causing seborrheic dermatitis (or cradle cap in infants): inflammation or abnormality of the oil glands and hair follicles, a yeast fungus with bacteria growing in the sebum, production of certain hormones, stress, change of seasons (outbreaks seem worse in winter) and fatigue. Above all, there is a known relationship with skin yeasts (called Malassezia spp). This is thought to be due to a reaction to the yeast, rather than a simple infection. Overactivity in the sebaceous glands of a newborn may also be a factor.
Infection and Cradle cap
Sometimes, the skin under the crusts of cradle cap can become infected. The skin becomes redder and small blisters appear, and then pop and weep. Importantly, to note this is caused by the same germs that cause impetigo (‘school sores’).
Therefore, if an infection spreads, or your baby becomes unwell, make sure that you have your baby checked by a doctor as your baby may need antibiotics to get rid of the infection. Above all, unlike cradle cap, impetigo is highly contagious.
Care at home
Usually Cradle cap gets better on its own without treatment. However, the following steps may help it improve faster:
- Loosen the crusts by applying a light moisturising cream or lotion to the scalp. The next morning, wash your baby's hair with a baby shampoo, gently lifting the crusts off with a soft brush (an unused soft toothbrush can be good for this) or comb. Try this each day until your baby's scalp looks clearer.
- Use a mild anti-dandruff shampoo (only use for one to two weeks) if the other treatment is not working. Be careful, as some shampoos can be drying and can irritate a baby's skin. Take care not to get the shampoo in your baby’s eyes.
However, cradle cap may come back, even when treated properly, because the glands can keep making too much sebum for a few months. If this happens, repeat the treatment.
Here is some more detailed information on cradle cap and how to manage it here.
Our Body Lotion, Shampoo and Conditioner can all help reduce the symptoms of cradle cap. The natural formulas are designed to help combat irritation and sensitive scalp conditions through the potent healing properties of Mānuka Oil.
Firstly, our Shampoo is the best product to use to help wash the scalp and keep the skin clear. Importantly, it is antibacterial and will help combat any inflamed or irritated areas as well helping to remove the crust and excess oils in the scalp.
Our Conditioner is a thicker creamy texture and allows you to massage into your child’s scalp to help soften any crusty patches, and rinses out easily.
The Body Lotion is a good cream to massage into the scalp to help reduce inflammation. In addition, leave it on the skin to help soften any cradle cap patches. It is antibacterial and therefore will help any irritated or itchy areas.
Massaging the scalp at night with our Body Lotion, followed by washing the hair and scalp next morning with the Shampoo and Conditioner. In addition, gently lifting the crusts with a soft brush will help. Above all, this will help keep the scalp moisturised and assist in reducing any irritation and redness.