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Cradle cap is a common skin condition that usually appears in infants and babies during the first there months after birth. In some cases, it lasts up to one year. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, almost 10% of baby boys and 9.5% of baby girls suffer from cradle cap. These statistics shouldn’t worry mothers because cradle cap is not painful, itchy, or contagious. Throughout this article, we will outline the signs, causes, and treatment of cradle cap.
Where to spot cradle cap
- Most commonly on the scalp
- On the face (eyelids, nose, under eyebrows)
- Behind the ears
- In the diaper area
- On the groin
Signs of cradle cap
- Patchy scaling or thick crusts on the scalp
- Oily or dry skin covered with flaky white, yellow, or dark scales
- Mild redness of the scalp or skin
Causes of cradle cap
Although there are no proven clear causes for cradle cap and it’s not relevant to poor hygiene, these are some common contributing causes:
- The mother’s hormones: Some hormones can excessively produce oil in the oil glands and hair follicles and are passed from the mother to the baby during pregnancy.
- Malassezia: It’s a type of yeast fungus that grows in the oily glands with bacteria.
- Antibiotics: Either they are taken by the mother while pregnant or to the baby up to a week after birth, causing a fungal infection.
In most cases, the cradle cap goes away on its own without any medical treatment within weeks or a few months. You shouldn’t give your baby any hydrocortisone or steroid creams that are sometimes prescribed in cradle cap cases without consulting your pediatrician. You can just apply the below tips in mild cases. Ask your doctor if the signs prolong.
- Wash your baby’s hair daily with mild baby shampoo to get rid of extra oils and gently rub the infected areas. Don’t use a medical shampoo unless it’s recommended by your doctor to make sure it’s safe and suitable for your baby.
- Gently loosen the flakes from the scalp with a soft baby brush moving in one direction before rinsing the shampoo.
- After the shower, apply baby oil onto the scales and rub it gently.
- Never pick, scrape, or scratch the patches.
Further reading: How to Spot Series: Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease
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