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Cradle cap is a completely harmless form of dermatitis on the scalp and does not bother the baby. But if you as the parent prefer to treat and remove it, read below.
What is cradle cap?
Cradle cap causes thick, oily, yellowish-white or yellowish-brown scales or crusts on the scalp. It occurs mainly in infants, but can remain up until a few years of age.
How do you get rid of cradle cap?
If you just try to remove the crusts, you will often be disappointed. It is really difficult. If the child has mild symptoms, you can try to massage the crusts with baby oil in the evening to loosen it. Then in the morning, you wash can wash their hair with baby shampoo and using a soft toothbrush to gently lift the crusts. Try to see if this works.
If the child has a lot of crusts, you may need to use a mild baby anti-dandruff shampoo (salicyclic acid 1%) from your local pharmacy. Massage the scab in the evening with salicylic acid and wash it out in the morning. If there is a lot of redness under the crusts, you can use an over-the-counter cortisone ointment (hydrocortisone) for a few days to prevent relapse. It’s easiest if the baby doesn’t have that much hair. If the child has a lot of hair and a difficult scab that recurs, you can seek medical advice. There are prescription products with slightly stronger cortisone solutions that suit the scalp (Locoid solution). Usually you would be careful with those solutions for children, but in difficult cases, you can use them for a few days.
What causes cradle cap?
We don’t really know exactly. It is a kind of inflammation of the skin, otherwise known as seborrhoeic eczema. Since it disappears over time, it has been speculated it may have to do with immature fatty acid composition. But no one really knows.
Children with cradle cap sometimes also have seborrhoeic eczema on other parts of the body. Just like dry regular eczema, weak cortisone creams (such as hydrocortisone) are effective.
Read more about diaper rash, fungal infections and a red baby bum
Read more about eczema in children
Read more about giving cortisone to children
Read about Parenthood the Swedish way – a science-based guide to Pregnancy, Birth and Infancy