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  • Swati_Sarath

Cradle cap in babies-Causes ,Home Treatment Methods and Prevention

Home treatments to get rid of the cradle cap from your baby's scalp completely within few weeks.

Cradle cap is a common skin condition which occurs in 80-90% newborns.It mainly occurs during the initial months after birth and eventually clears out within a few weeks. But in some cases it may take around 1 year if not treated properly.It’s mostly a harmless condition and doesn’t require medical treatments.

However I know that it may be unpleasant and scary for the parents(especially new ones) to see their babies having that scaly , crusty scalp. You may even have the urge to clear it out as soon as possible. But the fact is it requires time , patience and proper care to heal out completely.

Don’t worry mommies and daddies! I am here to help you out in this process. All you need to do is to trust me and keep reading!😇

What is a cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a baby version of Seborrheic Dermatitis.It’s also called crib cap or honeycomb disease.

They are crusty ,white or yellow scales on the baby's scalp. The flakes may be either dry or greasy.It’s very much similar to adult dandruff.Some babies may have mild patches while others may have thick flaky skin all over their scalp.At worst it can also spread to ears and forehead if not treated at the correct time.

Since it isn’t itchy or painful your baby may not signal you about it.Hence you need to monitor their scalps regularly.Some symptoms are hair fall ,redness behind the ears and dry flakes falling out while combing your newborn's hair. In severe cases your baby may try scratching his/her head or even show some signs of discomfort.

Causes Of Cradle Cap -

The actual causes of cradle caps are not yet clear but studies show the below mentioned reasons as the cause for it in babies.

1) Overactive sebaceous glands -

This is nothing but overproduction of sebum glands .Some babies receive certain hormones from their mothers after birth.This over stimulates the production of sebum oil from the baby's scalp and gradually prevents the old skin cells from drying and falling off.Instead, they stick to the scalp.

2) Improper scalp care -

Sometimes your baby may simply grow out of developing cradle cap.The main reason can be irregular or improper washing of their hair and scalp.This was the reason due to which even my baby had developed a cradle cap.When she was 3 months old,she had caught a fever and so we didn’t wash her hair for a week .This made her scalp greasy and flaky.Finally we realised that it was cradle cap and immediately took measures to clear it out.

Though it’s said that we should wash a baby's hair 2-3 times a week.I personally feel it's okay to do it daily if that suits him/her.The key is to keep their scalp clean and healthy.

It’s not something serious to worry about but yes you need to be cautious enough to take necessary precautions or treatments when required.

Prevention -

Prevention is better than cure.Its true but it can be done only if we know the root cause.As I said before we do not have any clear cause for this condition.Hence it’s not possible to prevent it.

The only thing we can do is to prevent it from occurring or recurring. Wash the baby's scalp to keep it clean.Do not scratch the flaky scalps. Since it's non contagious you don't need to panic either!

Treatments -

Medical intervention is not often required for the cradle cap.You can clear it completely from these methods at home.

#1 : Hydrate and Brush your baby’s scalp -

Hydration is necessary.It helps in loosening the dry flakes and peel off easily.For this you require a good natural oil - Coconut or Olive oils are the best. I personally use coconut oil.You can use the one which suits your baby’s skin.

Use a soft hair brush to remove cradle cap from your baby's scalp.

Method -

  1. Apply some good amount of oil on your baby’s scalp.If your newborn is having less hair then a thin layer of oil will do.

  2. Gently massage the oil for about 2-3 mins.Take extra caution of the soft spot on their head.Be very gentle on your baby’s scalp.

  3. Let the oil sit for a good 15-20 mins.

  4. Take a soft baby hair brush / comb(with soft bristles) and gently comb their scalp.You can comb in the opposite direction so that the flakes come out easily.

  5. Wash the oil out with a mild baby shampoo.

Repeat the process on alternate days as doing it daily can irritate your baby’s scalp and cause more harm.

#2 : Brush During Bath -

If you do not prefer the oiling process. You can directly move to washing your infant’s hair.All you need to do is to follow these steps-

  1. Wet your baby’s hair and scalp.

  2. Use a mild shampoo and gently massage into the scalp.

  3. Concentrate on the affected areas.Let in lather.

  4. Take a soft hair brush and comb it gently to remove the flakes.

  5. Once done rinse the hair thoroughly to remove all the shampoo and dirt.

  6. Towel dry the hair and scalp.

  7. Comb it once more after bath while the hair and scalp is still moist.

  8. This helps in removing all the leftover flakes.

This process can also be included after the oiling process mentioned above.If your baby is having it all over the scalp then you repeat this once in a day regularly. Else for mild cases repeat it on alternate days or rather 3 times a week.

#3 : Massage Gently-

Give your baby head massage with your fingertips in between feeding or when spending time with her. This promotes blood circulation to their scalp and hence prevents the build up of oil and dirt.This ultimately helps in preventing cradle cap.

#4 : Breast Milk -

Breast milk is a true medicine for many health and skin issues especially for infants. Simply apply some breast milk on the affected areas over the scalp.You will definitely notice reduction in the crusty , flaky patches.

#5 : Apply Prescribed Medications -

There can be situations where it may spread to the face or different parts of the body.Sometimes it also starts bleeding. In such severe conditions visit a doctor and use the prescribed medicines given by him. Use it regularly until it heals completely.

Note : Never ever try to peel off the scales using your fingers. You might feel the tendency to scratch it off but please do not do it. This can worsen it or rather turn into an infection.

When to seek help?

Although a cradle cap doesn’t require urgent and serious medical attention, it should be acted upon immediately if it gets worse.

Consult your doctor or pediatrician if your baby is having severe cradle cap condition

Seek immediate medical help if any of the following condition occurs -

  • Areas become red and agitated.

  • Patches look irritated

  • Spreads to face and other body parts of your infant.

  • Diaper rash occurs

  • He/she develops a fungal ear infection

  • Signs of thrush appear.

  • Areas may crack or bleed.

  • Fever due to fungal or bacterial infections.

It’s always vital to consult your doctor if your baby is showing discomfort or any other signs of infection.

So ,don’t stress yourself a lot if your baby is having a cradle cap. Stay calm, be patient and follow the methods mentioned above.You will see a great difference within 1 to 3 weeks.

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