Cradle Cap, or seborrhoeic dermatitis, is very common in the first few months of your baby’s life. Your baby’s scalp will have flaky, dry skin, and may have thick, yellowish, crusty lesions.
Although we do not know the exact cause of cradle cap, some believe it may be due to overactive sebaceous glands in the skin of newborn babies, due to the mother’s hormones still being in the baby’s system. The glands release a greasy substance that makes old skin cells attach to the scalp instead of falling off as they dry.
You do not have to treat cradle cap, it will eventually go away on its own, but here are some things to try if the irritation becomes bothersome. First, try to gently shampoo your baby’s scalp more frequently and gently brush the head with a soft bristle brush, while shampooing. You can find some brushes specially made as a cradle cap brush, but any soft bristle brush will do. For more severe and stubborn cases, try applying a natural oil (e.g. baby oil, almond, or olive oil). Leave the oil on your baby’s scalp for about 15 minutes and then shampoo off using a soft bristle brush to help remove flakes. The oil helps soften the flakes for easy removal. Do not try to pick off scales because this might cause irritation or bleeding.
Talk to your pediatrician if the cradle cap seems to get worse after all these treatments or if your child is older than 6 months old. Your pediatrician may want to try anti-fungal shampoos, creams, steroid creams, or possibly prescribe an antibiotic for a secondary infection.
Overall, cradle cap is very common and usually not serious It happens with almost every newborn. I remember when my son had it, I thought I had left too much shampoo in his hair!