Combatting Cradle Cap


Although cradle cap is unsightly, it does not cause discomfort to a newborn and is easily treatable.

Cradle cap is a harmless condition. It is a form of dandruff which causes rough, scaly patches on a baby’s scalp. It’s easily identifiable as it is a very distinct crusty yellowish build up on a newborn’s head, scalp, forehead and in severe cases on a baby’s eyebrows. It usually appears within the first three months of a baby’s life.

“While cradle cap might be unsightly”, says Senior Midwife, Helen O’Carroll, “it is not irritating nor does it cause discomfort for a newborn.

Cradle cap is not contagious and although there does not appear to be a definite cause, it is likely due to the overproduction of the oil glands in the skin of the scalp.

According to Helen, mild cases of cradle cap will clear up on its own within a few months. But there are simple ways of self treating it to hurry it on its way.

Top 5 tips to treat cradle cap

The following over-the-counter treatments and self-care tips can help you control and manage cradle cap.

  • Gently rub your baby’s scalp with your fingers or a cloth to loosen the built up scales.
  • Wash your baby’s hair once a day with a mild baby shampoo. Loosen the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush before rinsing off the shampoo.
  • If the scales don’t loosen easily, rub petroleum jelly or a few drops of baby oil onto your baby’s scalp. Let it soak into the scales for a few minutes, and then brush and shampoo your baby’s hair gently
  • Once you have removed the scales wash your baby’s hair every few days with a mild shampoo to prevent scale build up returning.
  • If the problem persists, consult your doctor as they might be able to recommend a medicated shampoo to alleviate the build up of cradle cap.


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