Cradle Cap: What is It And How to Treat It

Cradle Cap: What is It And How to Treat It

17 Mar 2022 | 4 min Read

Reema Shah

Author | 740 Articles

Cradle cap affects the baby’s scalp by making it crusty and it affects new born babies between the first  few weeks to a few months after birth. However, the condition is not painful and it clears up on its own. Read on to find out all about it.

What Is Cradle Cap

Cradle cap is a temporary condition which makes the baby’s scalp crusty or oily. Scaly patches occur on a baby’s scalp. However, in some cases, thick white or yellow scales develop on the baby’s head which is difficult to remove.

Normally, the cradle cap clears up within weeks or a few months on its own. It is rarely seen after 12 months of age in most babies.

What Are The Symptoms Of Cradle Cap

In medical terms, cradle cap is referred to as infantile seborrheic dermatitis. In some cases, the condition is misunderstood as atopic dermatitis which is a different skin condition. Atopic dermatitis generally causes itching while cradle cap does not cause any itchiness.

Some of the symptoms of cradle cap are:

  • Thick crusts or patches develop on the scalp
  • The scalp is covered with yellow scales or flaky white patches while the skin on the head is either oily or dry
  • The baby’s head tend to shed skin flakes
  • There are chances of mild redness

These scales can also occur on the eyelids, nose, groin and ears including the scalp. However this condition is neither painful nor itchy.

Cradle cap affects the baby’s scalp and is not a result of poor hygiene / Image credit – Pixabay

What Causes Cradle Cap

Although the exact cause of cradle cap is not known, one of the reasons are the hormones that get transferred from the mother to the baby . This in turn causes oil glands and hair follicles to produce excess oil .

Malassezia, a type of yeast, is another factor that may cause cradle cap. It develops in the sebum with bacteria. In that case it can be treated with antifungal treatments like ketoconazole.

Wash your baby’s scalp regularly using a mild shampoo to ward cradle cap off / Image credit – Pixabay

Do not fret  thinking that you have not been taking care of your baby’s hygiene, because of which it has caused it, as cradle cap is not not caused by poor hygiene nor is it infectious.

However, if the cradle cap becomes severe and does not go on its own, your doctor will mostly suggest using a medicated lotion, cradle cap shampoo, or another treatment.

How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap

You can get rid of cradle cap by gently rubbing your baby’s scalp either with your fingers or a washcloth to loosen the scales. Be careful not to scratch the cradle cap as it may lead to infection.

Wash your baby’s hair once a day with chemical free, natural baby shampoo. You can even loosen the scales with a soft-bristled baby brush, before rinsing off the shampoo.

How To Prevent Cradle Cap

A mild shampoo can help prevent cradle cap / Image credit – Baby Chakra

Use a mild shampoo to wash your baby’s hair at least once in two days. Do not opt for any medicated shampoo without your doctor’s recommendation.

2. You can even apply mineral oil to the scalp for a couple of hours to let it sit in case there is heavy scaling and then shampoo the hair as usual. Take a brush to loosen the scale lightly off the scalp.

3. A low potent hydrocortisone cream or a shampoo with 2 percent antifungal ketoconazole medication will generally be recommended by your doctor if shampoo does not help.  

Cradle cap is a common skin condition that you need not worry about. You can find out more about ways to take care of your baby’s hair here.



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.