How to treat cradle cap

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Cradle cap is a common condition among babies between ages 2-4 weeks old. It is characterized by scaly patches that are rough that develops on the scalp of babies. It usually heals on its own after a few weeks but sometimes the condition becomes persistent and shows signs of inflammation, bleeding, swelling or pus that requires immediate treatment.

Causes of cradle cap

  • Hormones received by the baby at the end of pregnancy that result to overstimulation of the oil-producing glands of the baby.
  • Irritation from yeast that grows in the sebum or the substance produced by the glands.


  • Remove scales from the head of the baby using the fingers. Wear thin latex gloves but make sure the baby does not have latex allergy. Rub over the scaly patches that peel off and scrape the scaly skin and throw it away. Avoid using tweezers or other sharp tools in removing the scales.
  • Wash the head of the baby every day using warm water. Gently massage the scalp using the fingers to loosen the scales from the cradle cap to make it easy to peel or scrape. Use a mild shampoo and a soft-bristled toothbrush to loosen the scales while the head of the baby is still wet.
  • Apply petroleum jelly or baby oil on the dry patches. Leave it on for at least 15 minutes to soften the scales before removing them. Wash off the oil using shampoo and warm water to prevent leaving traces of oil in the scalp that can worsen the condition. Rinse off properly to prevent dryness and formation of dandruff.
  • If cradle cap becomes persistent, use the prescribed medicated dandruff shampoo that has anti-fungal medication ketoconazole or selenium sulfide to treat the condition. Avoid using shampoos that contains salicylic acid which is not good for babies.
  • If the scalp is inflamed, red and itchy, apply the prescribed hydrocortisone cream to lessen the symptoms of the condition.
  • Install a humidifier in the room of the baby to keep the area moist and humid and prevent dryness of the skin.


  • Use a shampoo that is labeled as “mild” or “gentle” for the scalp of babies.
  • Wash the hair of baby at least every 2 or 3 days to prevent development of cradle cap.
  • Give the baby sponge baths until the umbilical cord falls off and wait for 2-3 weeks before giving the baby a full bath.
  • Keep the head of the baby dry. Wipe the head every time he/she perspires to prevent the development of cradle cap.
  • Massage the head of the baby every day or use a soft-bristled baby brush for the same effect to increase the blood circulation in the area and lessen the chances of cradle cap.

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