There’s no denying that cradle cap isn’t pleasant. The large, scaly patches on your baby’s head can be particularly distressing to look at, but you don’t need to worry because the condition is common and completely harmless.
Cradle cap usually appears on your baby’s face or head, but can also be found in the skin folds of arms and knees and around their nappy area. After discovering the brown or yellow patches, make sure you take your baby straight to a doctor. It is important to diagnose cradle cap, as the symptoms can be signs of other medical conditions such as atopic eczema. If it is cradle cap, you don’t need to worry. The condition usually sorts itself out after a few weeks or months and does not cause the baby irritation or distress. If you see your child attempt to scratch the areas in question take them straight back to the doctor.
It is also common for your baby’s hair to come away with the flakes of skin, but the hair will grow back. Later in life your baby may experience excess dandruff as they get older, but there are no serious repercussions. You can buy cradle cap shampoos from your local pharmacy that are specifically designed for babies with the condition.
Should your baby’s cradle cap become infected or inflamed, your doctor can provide a course of antibiotics or antifungal cream. Infections can appear weepy, sore or odorous and usually cause the baby to itch. Mild steroid creams prescribed by doctors such as hydrocortisone are popular and are known to work, as are specially prescribed cradle cap shampoos like ketoconazole. Always check with your doctor first.
The exact cause of cradle cap is still debated by doctors and scientists. Most agree that as babies retain their mothers’ hormones inside them for several weeks, the hormones make the babies’ glands produce more sebum (an oily liquid) that results in cradle cap. But as long as you gently wash your baby’s head regularly, massage baby oil into the afflicted area and ensure the child does not pick at the flakes, they should be clear of the condition in a matter of weeks.