Parents and caregivers of precious infants have a lot to worry about. Babies are so beautiful and delicate! One of the possibly troubling occurrences is that of baby dandruff, more commonly called cradle cap. However, cradle cap is common and happens normally in newborns and children under the age of one. It usually is not serious nor painful and normally clears up on its own after a while. It is not contagious and is not a result of poor hygiene habits.

What is the Cradle Cap?

The medical term for cradle cap is seborrheic dermatitis. It reportedly affects 10% of infants up to the age of one month, peaks to 70% by the age of three months, and then drops off to about 7% by the age of one year. Infants have very delicate skin which makes it easy for their skin to become dry and irritated. Cradle cap may start like adult dandruff, with dry, flaky skin on the infant’s scalp. Cradle cap becomes somewhat more severe in that it results in crusty patches or crusts of scaling on the scalp. It may involve mild skin redness, skin flaking, oily or dry skin covered with flaky white, yellow, or brown scaling areas that are rough to the touch. These areas of skin dermatitis may also be present on the eyelids, ears, nose, armpits, and groin.

What Causes it?

Believed causes of cradle cap can include:

  • Hormones from the mother, passing into the baby before birth causing an overproduction of oil in the oil glands and hair follicles.
  • Yeast or fungus that grows in the oil glands along with bacteria.
  • Excessive drying of the skin caused by using a harsh non-baby shampoo, extreme weather, or sunburn on the baby’s scalp, or not rinsing the baby’s head adequately after shampooing.

What Home Remedies Can I Use?

Here are six simple ways for parents and caregivers to take care of infants and their cradle cap conditions:

  1. Use a gentle baby shampoo rather than the stronger shampoos intended for adult hair. Baby shampoos are specifically formulated to cleanse sensitive baby hair and scalp and to soften and rinse away the flakes or scaly skin associated with cradle cap. Rinse out the shampoo completely then dry thoroughly.
  2. Keep baths short so that the baby’s tender skin does not dry excessively, thus leading to baby dandruff and cradle cap. 10 minutes is good bath time, even if the baby really enjoys the warm water. And, keep the water temperature to around 98 degrees, this is the best temperature target for healthy baby skin. It is certainly fine to give babies a soothing and beneficial daily bath, just keep them short and use baby-friendly cleaning products. If a baby’s skin is excessively dry, baths can be reduced to three or four times per week, with proper after-diaper cleansing.
  3. Apply baby oil to the baby’s scalp. Apply just a few drips to the baby’s head and massage-in gently with your fingertips. That will moisturize and soothe a baby’s scalp. Coconut oil is a natural treatment for cradle cap. It is rich in fatty acids and has good antibacterial and anti-microbial properties. It can reduce the oil on the skin and in the hair follicles as well as nourishing the skin. Massage it directly and softly onto the baby’s scalp and leave it on for about 20 minutes then rinse off the oil and using a soft brush, gently remove any visible flakes.

Other types of oils also help hydrate the scalp and hair follicles: olive oil, coconut, jojoba, and almond oil work. Try a small amount on the baby’s scalp first to see if any of these oils cause irritation.

  1. Give the baby a gentle head massage. That will be soothing and will be a soft and gentle way to cause dead and flaky skin to become detached and fall off, thus allowing new and healthier skin cells to replace those that flake or fall off. Simply rub gently, using the fingertips. Don’t apply any pressure as the scalp is rubbed softly. Remember that the baby’s skull is not fully developed so sensitive touch and the absence of pressure and aggressive motion is important.
  2. Use a humidifier. This will not only help a baby when they have a cold or congestion that causes difficulty breathing but will help the baby’s skin to be moist and prevent it from drying out.
  3. Brush the hair and scalp carefully using a scalp brush for seborrheic dermatitis that has extremely soft bristles. This can be effective in removing the scales. It is best to brush after applying baby oil or another type of oil to hydrate the skin and loosen the flaky patches of skin on the head. Simply brush slowly in one direction at a time to remove some of the dead and flaky skin.

The people at bean-be-clean have developed a revolutionary scalp massaging brush, a soft, soothing, and safe way to deal with the issues of cradle cap. Regular treatment with this reusable brush will help keep your baby’s scalp clean and healthy. It’s available for purchase from retailers like Costco, Target, Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Here are some “don’ts” as well:

  • Don’t use too much shampoo. That can cause excessive oil production in the scalp and face.
  • Don’t attempt to scratch patchy skin. That can cause irritation and lead to infection.
  • Don’t over bathe the infant since that will dry and irritate their tender skin.
  • Don’t use a conditioner. While conditioners provide nutrients and hydrate adult hair, the ingredients are typically too strong for use on infants.

If the child’s cradle cap is causing discomfort or if the condition seems to persist, it is recommended to call a pediatrician. He or she may prescribe an antifungal cream or ointment to help treat the condition.

A Great Accessory for Treating Cradle Cap

If you or someone you know has a precious infant with cradle cap, these important suggestions can provide significant help in mitigating the symptoms and providing relief. Know that this is a normal and typically short-term condition.