cradle cap

CRADLE CAP. EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT

WHAT IS CRADLE CAP?

Also known as seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea, cradle cap is a common condition that affects newborns as young as a month old to toddlers as old as 3 years. If you see rough, scaly patches somewhat resembling dandruff on your baby’s scalp, then it could most probably be cradle cap. In that case,you shouldn’t be too worried as it’s not a serious condition and will clear upon it’s own in about 6-12 months. You will might also notice the same symptoms on your baby’s eyelids, around the ears or eyebrows or on his armpits, diaper area and other creases. Although it might look like the condition is making your baby uncomfortable or irritated, it probably isn’t, unless it’s a severe case. 

cradle cap

WHAT CAUSES IT?

Cradle cap is not caused by poor hygiene or an allergic reaction and isn’t at all contagious. No one knows the exact cause of cradle cap but some doctors believe that it could be caused by over stimulation of the oil glands in your baby’s skin. The probable cause of the over stimulation is believed to be brought about by the mother’s hormones that remained in the baby’s system while he/she was in the womb. 

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Every baby is different so the symptoms that each baby displays may vary. It can either appear as clusters on one area or be spread out on your baby’s body.

* Skin flakes resembling dandruff * Oily patches of skin covered with scales (may be white or yellow)

* Thick crusts on your baby’s scalp that may also appear on the eyelids, ears, eyebrows, nose, diaper area, neck or armpits.

 * Although rare, it could be itchy and cause cracks on the skin often excreting some clear yellow discharge. This could affect babies with eczema or dry skin. 

HOW IS IT TREATED?

In most cases, cradle cap will go away within a few months without any treatment. Most parents will however prefer to get rid of the scales with some home remedies. Here’s how you should care for the areas on your baby’s body displaying signs of cradle cap:

1. Apply a small amount of vegetable or mineral oil on the affected areas and let it soak for a few minutes (Avoid peanut and olive oil).

2. Use a soft washcloth or a soft brush and a baby shampoo to gently wash away the oil. Try not to leave too much oil on your baby’s skin as this could create a breeding ground for the scales hence making it worse.

3. Repeat this routine until the scales are completely gone.If regular baby shampoos don’t seem to work, ask your doctor to recommend a medicated shampoo. In some cases,such as when the skin is inflamed, doctors may prescribe hydrocortisone to help deal with the condition. 

cradle cap

WHAT ABOUT USING ESSENTIAL OILS TO HELP TREAT CRADLE CAP?

You should first ask your pediatrician if it’s okay to use essential oils on your baby’s skin. Essential oils with anti-inflammatory properties could help soothe your baby’s scalp. Lemon and geranium oils would be a good choice for the essential oils whereas jojoba and coconut would work great as carrier oils.

A BASIC ROUTINE FOR USING ESSENTIAL OILS SHOULD GO AS FOLLOWS:
  1. For every drop of essential oil, add one tablespoon of carrier oil.
  2. 2 drops of essential oils should be enough for your baby.
  3. Apply the oils to the areas showing signs of cradle cap and let it soak for a few minutes (15 minutes should be enough).
  4. Gently brush or comb the flakes off.
  5. Wash off the oil with a mild baby shampoo. 

HOW CAN YOU PREVENT IT FROM REOCCURRING?

Shampooing your baby’s scalp twice a week should keep cradle cap from coming back. You can skip the oiling and soaking step once the scales are completely gone. 

WHEN SHOULD YOU SEE A DOCTOR?

Although cradle cap is a relatively easy condition to manage and cure at home, there are some cases that may need a doctor’s intervention.They include cases such as: If you’ve tried treating it at home without success:If the affected area forms cracks and starts to ooze fluid or feels warm which may mean that’s infected: If there’s bleeding.

Until Next Time, 

Amanda Maxwell 

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