5 Sure-Fire Ways to Deal With Cradle Cap in Infants

Treating this itchy, gross condition quickly and easily.

Dealing With Cradle Cap

It’s gross. It looks dirty. It is not something that we as new parents look forward to dealing with when it comes to caring for our newborns.

But Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis, also known as cradle cap is very common among infants.

The notable yellowish brown flakes growing in patches on baby’s scalp are the most common sign of cradle cap, but did you know it could also grow on baby’s skin in other regions of the body?

It may appear around his or her ears, eyebrows, eyelids, or other in other creases and crevices.

As unwanted and unsightly as it may be, cradle cap is not something parents need to worry about. It is common and any baby can get it, according to Dr. Greene.

It is not contagious, as noted by Baby Center, and most likely doesn’t even bother baby unless it becomes severe, which, even then, it could simply become just slightly itchy.

Though the cause is unknown, Baby Center also ensures us poor hygiene and allergies have officially been ruled out.

This usually starts appearing during early months of age. It generally doesn’t need treatment and can clear up on its own between 6-12 months of age; though some babies may have it for a bit longer.

How Can I Get Rid of It?

Though completely ridding baby of the extra dandruff ourselves isn’t likely, there are some ways that could help manage those icky, oily flakes.

Here are 5 ways the experts recommend, plus 2 extra-cautionary methods:

  • Mayo Clinic suggests shampooing baby’s hair once a day with a mild shampoo, and brushing to help loosen the flakes.
  • Baby Center suggests shampooing more often, being sure to rinse very well, and brushing or rubbing the scalp gently with a soft bristle brush or terry cloth while the hair is still wet.
  • Another suggestion they give is to gently massage the scalp with your fingers or a soft brush to help loosen the scale.
  •  A similar method of rubbing the scalp (or flaky area) with baby oil, mineral oil or petroleum jelly one hour before bathing baby to help lift and loosen the really crusty scales is offered as an option by WebMD. Then, gently scrubbing the wetted scalp with a soft brush or using a fine tooth comb for a few minutes and finally, finishing with a mild shampoo, rinsing well, and gently drying.
  • HealthyChildren.org however, tells us not to use baby oils or mineral oils, as they are not helpful or beneficial, but to use petroleum jelly with the same process as WebMD stated. HealthyChildren.org explains using such oils will only allow the scales to build up on the scalp, particularly in soft spots.

My husband and I experienced this with our little Marie. It was quite frustrating. There were times when I could pull off flakes that were the size of dimes – I didn’t understand it.

When we switched to using petroleum jelly, though, even though it required a little extra shampoo to get out, it actually helped pull out the scales instead of making them stick to the scalp even more.

When to be Worried

For more extreme cases, here are two expert recommendations:

  • If you notice the affected area is itching baby and is red and/or inflamed, it may be due to a yeast infection from a fungus called malassezia (mal-uh-See-zhuh) which grows along with bacteria in the oil glands that lubricate the skin and hair follicles, according to Mayo Clinic.

In such a case, your baby’s pediatrician may prescribe hydrocortisone. Never use over-the-counter creams, unless your child’s pediatrician gives the okay.

  • For more serious cases of cradle cap your infant’s pediatrician may even prescribe an adult’s anti-dandruff shampoo. It’s still best to try and allow baby’s body to rid itself of these flakes on its own, as naturally as possible.

Never take it upon yourself to diagnose your baby’s needs.

Always consult a doctor before applying any anti-itch creams or anti-dandruff shampoos.

A Whole Other Ball Game

As stated before, cradle cap should not bother baby.

If you notice it looks more rash-like or is causing severe itching or pain, or is bleeding, consult your child’s pediatrician right away. This may be signs of an allergic reaction to something your baby is being exposed to, or may be a different skin condition that needs regular attention, such as eczema.

One tell-tale sign of infantile-eczema is how itchy your little one is. Eczema is a very itchy skin condition that cannot heal on its own. Another sign may be inflammation of the skin.

Some options to help with infantile-eczema are listed below:

  • Noticing and avoiding skin irritations.
    • Some irritants are dry weather and certain clothing such as wool and synthetic materials. The National Eczema Society tells us cotton clothing and bedding are best options as it allows the skin to remain cool and breathe.
  • Avoiding extreme temperatures.
  • Lubricating your baby’s skin with bath oils, lotions, creams or ointments.

The Mayo Clinic says,

“See your baby’s doctor if these measures don’t improve the rash or if the rash looks infected. Your baby may need a prescription medication to control the rash or to treat an infection. Your doctor may recommend an oral antihistamine to help lessen the itch and to cause drowsiness, which may be helpful for nighttime itching and discomfort.”

The Gist

Let’s recap. (No pun intended.)

  • Cradle cap is nothing more than excessive oils and skin.
  • It does not bother Baby.
  • Cradle cap is not a sign of bad parenting. It is not caused by poor hygiene.
  • It is not contagious. It is very normal and common.
  • It is easily treatable with a variety of washing, and brushing and scrubbing techniques.
  • If it looks like it hurts or itches, you should see the doctor within a reasonable time frame to verify that it is not a yeast infection, an allergic reaction, or other more serious skin conditions such as infantile-eczema.

What are some methods you have found that helped rid or manage your little one’s cradle cap? Leave a comment below.

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