What is cra­dle cap?

That flaky rash on your baby’s head isn’t dan­druff – it’s called cra­dle cap and it’s quite nor­mal for ba­bies, writes Sr Burgie Ire­land

Your Baby & Toddler - - Contents -

CRA­DLE CAP, AS the name im­plies, hap­pens to young ba­bies (al­though in se­vere cases it may con­tinue up to the age of three) and starts on the head.

When a baby’s head sweats, her skin pro­duces more se­bum (or oil) from the se­ba­ceous glands. An in­fec­tion of the skin may re­sult, which is cra­dle cap. Med­i­cally speak­ing, cra­dle cap is called se­b­or­rhoeic der­mati­tis.

If your baby has cra­dle cap, you’ll first no­tice dan­druff- like flakes on your baby’s head. These are shed skin cells and are quite nor­mal. See­ing this may make you worry that you’re not wash­ing your baby’s hair prop­erly and so you may rub the scalp vig­or­ously with the next hair wash but by do­ing this, you’re only mak­ing the prob­lem worse.

FLAK­ING OUT Cra­dle cap is not caused by ne­glect or poor hy­giene. If you no­tice dry patches on your baby’s scalp, use a lit­tle bit of baby oil to soften it overnight, brush well with a soft- bris­tled baby brush and wash your baby’s hair the next day with a mild baby sham­poo. If the patches be­come thick and yel­low and spread over the scalp, it may need more ag­gres­sive treat­ment.

It may also take 10 or more days to clear. Speak to your phar­ma­cist about us­ing a cra­dle cap sham­poo or ask your clinic nurse or doc­tor. When cra­dle cap is se­vere, this se­b­or­rhoeic rash may spread to the face, neck and even the nappy area.

If this hap­pens, you should see a doc­tor who will pre­scribe a spe­cific cream. This out­break needs to be dif­fer­en­ti­ated from se­b­or­rhoeic eczema, which is iden­ti­fied by patches of red, in­flamed skin, usu­ally in ar­eas where there are creases such as el­bows and knees, and needs spe­cific treat­ment.


• Put a beanie or hat on your baby’s head only when you go out and take it off in­doors so that her scalp can “breathe”.

• Don’t wash your baby’s hair ev­ery day.

• Don’t use soap on your baby’s head – use spe­cially for­mu­lated baby sham­poo.

• Don’t mas­sage the scalp vig­or­ously – sim­ply lather the sham­poo gen­tly.

• Don’t be hes­i­tant to gen­tly wash the hair over your baby’s fontanelle.

• Make sure you rinse the sham­poo off re­ally well.

• Brush your baby’s hair with a soft­bris­tled brush to re­move dead skin flakes.

• When patches of cra­dle cap are lift­ing, it’s tempt­ing to pick them off. But don’t! Your nails could break your baby’s skin and mi­cro­scopic dirt on your fin­ger­tips can lead to a skin in­fec­tion. Let the flakes fall off by them­selves.

• Al­ways use baby prod­ucts on your baby’s skin. • If your baby’s skin is very sen­si­tive or your baby is a new­born, use hy­poal­ler­genic 100% soap- free and dye- free prod­ucts (speak to your phar­ma­cist for a rec­om­men­da­tion).

• Never use anti- dan­druff sham­poo on your baby. TREAT­ING CRA­DLE CAP

• Soften patches of dry scalp with baby oil be­fore wash­ing.

• Re­move as much of the cra­dle cap as pos­si­ble with a baby brush by gen­tly brush­ing the hair be­fore wash­ing.

• If the cra­dle cap war­rants spe­cific cream, fol­low the in­struc­tions on the con­tainer of cream or from your doc­tor very care­fully.

• If the doc­tor has pre­scribed cra­dle cap sham­poo, read the in­struc­tions first. If your baby re­acts to the chem­i­cals in the sham­poo, stop us­ing it and con­tact your doc­tor.

• Don’t self- pre­scribe treat­ment.

• Don’t re­sort to “Granny’s reme­dies” with­out speak­ing to a clinic nurse or doc­tor first.

• Be pa­tient. Cra­dle cap does not go away overnight. YB

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