What is cradle cap?
Cradle cap is a very common, harmless skin condition that can affect the scalp of young babies and toddlers.
Yellow scaly patches of skin form on the scalp, which in time turn to crusty flakes and fall off.
So what is cradle cap in babies?
There are several possible causes of cradle cap, the most likely of which are the hormones passed from mother to baby after birth, which create an excess of sebum in the baby and this is what forms the yellow, crusty patches on the scalp. Usually, over the first few months, the baby excretes these hormones and the cradle cap disappears. There’s nothing actually going wrong in cradle cap, it’s a perfectly normal and common occurrence that is more a cosmetic issue than anything pathological..
However, as cradle cap in babies can sometimes look a bit unappealing, many parents/carers are keen to find products that can reduce its appearance, such as a cradle cap shampoo or oil. But because the condition is not harmful and shouldn’t cause the child any discomfort or itching, usually no actual treatment is required unless the scalp gets infected. There is a temptation to pick at the flaky skin to get rid of the crustiness; that’s best avoided due to the risk of causing infection or soreness. In fact cradle cap can be left entirely alone as it will sort itself out in time; using specific cradle cap shampoos or other products could potentially cause skin irritation and make something that isn’t a harmful into an ongoing problem.
Maintaining a Healthy Scalp
If you do want to use something to loosen the flaky skin and keep the area well moisturised and healthy then we’d recommend finding a gentle, natural oil rather than a harsh or soap-based shampoo.
Skin Salvation Bath & Body Oil or Chamomile Baby Oil are both perfect for this as they are full of nutrients and do not contain any preservatives or perfumes that could aggravate delicate skin. If the cradle cap has spread to the forehead, you can also treat this with the oil.
For reducing the risk of infection we recommend our Scalp Oil, which is rich in borage oil and essential fatty acids, as well containing plentiful amounts of naturally antifungal and antibacterial olive, rosemary and tea tree oils. Its gentle formulation also makes it suitable for use by those prone to eczema of the scalp, scalp psoriasis and generally itchiness on the head.
What if it isn't Cradle Cap?
Please note that if your baby or toddler has an itchy scalp, it is possible that this could be another condition such as eczema or psoriasis. Cradle cap is not an itchy condition so if you are unsure please seek a medical diagnosis so you can be sure you are treating the right condition. It is also worth checking your child for head lice as this causes terrible itchiness!
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.