What is Cradle Cap and How to Get Rid of it

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Cradle cap. I HATE cradle cap.

My kiddo had the worst case of it for months and I didn’t think we would ever get rid of it. I tried everything, and I do mean everything to get rid of his cradle cap.

So, in an effort to keep you from going through the same cradle cap fighting struggles that I went through, let me tell you what I’ve learned.

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What is Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap is a very common condition that shows up on babies. It is most common on babies younger than three months, but it can last through their first year.

It is when they get these crusty or scaly patch on their heads. It’s basically the baby form of dandruff and it’s extremely annoying.

What Causes Cradle Cap?

While the cause of cradle cap is still unknown, there is some thought that the rough patches show up when the oil glands of a baby’s skin produce more oil than they really need to.

Doctors believe that it has to do with the added hormones in the baby’s system from the mom during the birth process. There’s a lot going on during childbirth!

Those added hormones in your system, are likely to cause some extra things to go on in your baby’s system. Cradle cap could be an effect.

cradle cap, how to get rid of cradle cap, newborn, newborn health, new mom

Symptoms of Cradle Cap

Cradle cap generally affects the skin on your baby’s head, but it can form on your baby’s face, behind his ears, under his arms, and even in his diaper area.

His skin is likely to look greasy and have white, yellow, or even darker patches of scales on his head. The color of the patches has a lot to do with the color of your baby’s skin, so don’t be alarmed if your baby’s cradle cap looks different than the pictures on the internet.

If the cradle cap is really bad, then it is possible that your baby will lose some of his hair. Don’t worry, it will grow back once the patches are gone.

Is Cradle Cap Harmful?

Though cradle cap is a pain in the butt, it isn’t harmful. It doesn’t itch, even though it looks like it should, and it isn’t painful for your baby.

It’s mostly just painful for you to look at because it looks so weird.

Is it Okay to Scratch or Pick at Cradle Cap?

Though it may be tempting, don’t pick or scratch at the patches. You could accidentally scratch your baby’s skin and that could end up being harmful.

There are some ways to help keep cradle cap at bay. Just don’t pick at it.

Does Cradle Cap Go Away on its Own?

Most cases of cradle cap will go away in a few weeks all on its own.

If the patches are really thick, or if you want to help the process along though, there are some things that you can do.

How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap?

There are a few things that you can do to help get rid of your baby’s cradle cap. I would suggest starting with one and see how that goes before moving on to the next.

You may not need all of these things.

Also, I am not a doctor, I am just telling you the things that I have tried to get rid of my own son’s cradle cap issues. These are all things that I was instructed by my pediatrician to try, but it is always better to consult your own doctor if you are ever worried about the health of your baby.

·         Washing with Gentle Shampoo

The first thing that you can try, is to wash your baby’s hair.

Sounds simple enough, I know, but work with me here.

Wash your baby’s hair with a gentle baby shampoo. I personally really like the Burt’s Bees Calming Baby Shampoo. It smells so good! So much better than the weird yeasty smell of the cradle cap.

I’ve also had my one container of it for over a year. That stuff is awesome!

When you’re washing your baby’s hair, really get in there with your fingers and massage the scales. You want to try to soften them up so that they will flake off easier.

·         Brush Your Baby’s Hair

When you are done washing your baby’s hair, use a soft brush and brush away the scales.

They will probably flake off like crazy after the bath. That’s normal and it’s what you’re looking for.

I have a soft brush like this that works perfectly for this. It’s gentle on my baby’s head, but the bristles are rubber so it’s extremely easy to clean. A little soap and water and it’s good as new!

Brush your baby’s hair in one direction and brush it gently. You don’t want to cause any unnecessary aggravation to your baby’s scalp.

You can also brush his hair when it’s dry. If you notice that his head starts to get red, then you should brush less often.

·         Use Oil

If just washing your baby’s hair isn’t working like you want, then you can try adding some oil to his scalp.

A little coconut oil or almond oil works great.

Just massage it into your baby’s scalp just like you would with the shampoo and let it sit for about 15 minutes. You can even leave it on overnight and just wash it off in the morning.

Just use that same brush and brush away at the softened flakes. You can then wash your baby’s hair to get rid of the rest of the oil.

·         Washing with Dandruff Shampoo

If the oil isn’t working, the next step is to try a dandruff shampoo. I don’t think that they make baby-specific dandruff shampoos, so you’ll have to be careful not to get it in your baby’s eyes.

Just use the dandruff shampoo like you would normally use the baby shampoo and gently massage it into your baby’s scalp to loosen up the flakes.

Then finish up the treatment with the brush. You’re going to use that thing a lot for this process.

·         Hydrocortisone Cream

The next step, and the one that I eventually had to use, is to rub hydrocortisone cream on your baby’s head.

You can find hydrocortisone cream at most drug stores. The 1% solution is all that you need.

Just take the cream and massage it into your baby’s hair and cover the scales and let it sit. I liked to just put it on in the evenings after his bath and let it sit overnight.

Then the next morning take your handy-dandy brush and brush off the scales.

Using hydrocortisone cream was the only thing that worked for us to get rid of my guy’s cradle cap. He just had a really stubborn case of it. It cleared up pretty quickly though once I figured out what worked.

cradle cap remedies graphic

How Long Does it Take for Cradle Cap to go Away?

If left untreated, most cases of cradle cap will go away by your baby’s first birthday, though it is possible to last as long as 2-4 years.

With treatment, depending on how severe the cradle cap on your baby is, it can take between a couple of weeks to a couple of months to fully get rid of it.

When to Seek Help

Most cases of cradle cap will go away all on their own. And though it isn’t medically necessary to remove the cradle cap, it is still a good idea to mention it at your baby’s next checkup.

Cradle cap can look very similar to eczema with the big difference being that eczema is itchy and cradle cap is not. Your doctor will be able to quickly tell which one your baby has though.

If your baby’s skin starts to get red or irritated, or if the cradle cap start showing up on his face or on his body, then you should consult your doctor to make sure there aren’t any other problems.

Summing Up

To sum up, cradle cap is common, it isn’t dangerous, and it’s mostly just annoying.

Brushing your baby’s hair will help to remove the cradle cap scales and keep his scalp healthy. Don’t be surprised if he loses some hair though. Most babies lose any hair they are born with anyway regardless of the cradle cap.

Always talk to your doctor about anything weird happening with your baby. Especially if the affected area starts to get red and irritated or if your baby shows any signs that it is itchy or uncomfortable. Cradle cap isn’t supposed to be, so this could be a sign of another problem.

Other than that though, the cradle cap should just go away on it’s own. It really isn’t something that you should be overly concerned with. You have enough things to worry about.

Are you dealing with cradle cap? How are you handling it? Leave me a comment below or join the conversation in our Facebook group.

Until next time!

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