causes of cradle cap and how to treat it

causes of cradle cap and how to treat it

24 May 2022 | 3 min Read


Author | 2574 Articles

If you’ve never heard this term before, it’s just a fancy word for something similar to dandruff on your baby’s scalp. The actual medical term for this condition is Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis.

An important thing about cradle cap is that it isn’t contagious and it’s easier to treat than it may seem. Even though it may look a bit repulsive as compared to your newborns’ baby skin, it isn’t necessarily a sign of hygiene negligence. It usually occurs in babies up to 3 years of age. 

Causes of cradle cap

Try not to confuse cradle cap with infantile eczema, which is extremely itchy. The causes of cradle cap aren’t known, however, doctors mostly believe that it has something to do with the hormones passed on from the mother to the child. These hormones could possibly have led to the excessive production of oil. Another cause could be something as simple as a yeast infection caused in the sebum in oil glands along with bacteria.

The symptoms of cradle cap are:

1. Skin flakes

2. Mild redness

3. Patchy, scaling or thick crusts on the scalp

4. Oily or dry skin covered with yellow or white scales 

Treatment of cradle cap

1. Olive Oil

It might seem counterproductive to rub oil on an already oily scalp, but a lot of parents swear by this remedy. Gently rub some olive oil on your baby’s scalp and let it sit for a while. Wash it off after a while with a toothbrush (for the scales) or a towel. An alternative to olive oil is coconut oil, another very readily available household item.

2. Vaseline

This petroleum jelly seems to be effective in almost every sphere of life. Rub a little Vaseline on your baby’s scalp and leave it overnight. Wash it off the next morning and you might find a scalp with almost no flakes anymore!

3. Fine toothed comb

Experienced parents would have already had numerous encounters with this device. For those of you who are new to parenting, a fine toothed comb is synonymous with lice. It is a comb with teeth so tight together that nothing can escape it. Which is why it is the perfect remedy for your baby’s cradle cap. Try applying a few drops of oil on the teeth before to reduce the roughness on their scalp. Make sure to comb very lightly.

4. Baby shampoo

Wash your baby’s head regularly with a mild baby shampoo, as too much shampoo could be harmful to their skin. After a bath, the flakes seem to get a bit loose, which is when you could gently comb or brush it away with a baby brush.

Avoid picking out the flakes and scales as much as possible, as it could leave patches, which are then prone to infection. If the cradle cap persists over a long period of time, it would be best to consult the doctor.



Suggestions offered by doctors on BabyChakra are of advisory nature i.e., for educational and informational purposes only. Content posted on, created for, or compiled by BabyChakra is not intended or designed to replace your doctor's independent judgment about any symptom, condition, or the appropriateness or risks of a procedure or treatment for a given person.