C is for Cradle Cap

…Or what most parents frustratingly or accidentally call cradle crap-- it just rolls off the tongue so much easier than cradle cap.  Cradle cap looks like scabs or scales and can completely cover your baby’s scalp or may be in patches.  DO NOT WORRY!  This doesn’t itch, hurt, or irritate your baby.  These scales are thick and white or yellow of color and are nearly IMPOSSIBLE to remove!  Cradle cap usually affects babies from newborn to about three months old, but can last a year or more.

The symptoms are easily identifiable and include patches of scales or thick scabs, oily or dry scalp, dandruff looking dry skin flakes, and some moderate irritation or redness of the scalp.  Severe cases may cause scales to appear on the eyelids, ears, and nose.  The medical term for cradle cap is Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis, and it is also called crusta lacteal, honeycomb disease, milk crust, and pityriasis.  If your baby has a mild case localized to the scalp, you can try treating it at home.  But if the cradle cap has spread to the face or body, you may need medication to treat the scales.


Ignore cradle cap and eventually it will go away – but there are things you can do to accelerate this process.  Washing your baby’s scalp daily with baby shampoo can help; use a soft baby hair brush to brush the shampoo over the scalp.  This can help loosen the scales, but do not pick at the scales as that can cause irritation and possibly an infection.  If the brush and shampoo method doesn’t work, you can try massaging a mild oil to your baby’s scalp a few minutes prior to washing to help moisten the scales more.  However, be sure to wash the oil off thoroughly as oil can cause the scales to worsen.


One thing to keep in mind is that cradle cap is not caused by poor hygiene.  While frequent washing of the scalp can loosen the scales, infrequent baths is not the cause of them.  Also, cradle cap is not contagious.  The exact cause of cradle cap is unknown, however some believe the mother’s hormones that stay with the baby after birth may cause the sebaceous glands to over produce sebum resulting in an oily scalp which causes dead skin cells to stick to the scalp instead of falling away.

Have any of your babies had cradle cap?  My daughter did, but my son didn’t.

Next week I will be blogging on the letter D… D is for Diapers.