Cradle Cap

What Is Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap is a common skin condition found in babies and young children. It typically presents as yellow or white patches on the scalp, and may also be found on the eyebrows, forehead, ears and other areas of the body. While cradle cap is not painful or contagious, the flakes of dead skin may be itchy.

What Causes Cradle Cap?

The exact cause of cradle cap is not known. It is thought to be due to a combination of overactive oil glands in the scalp, hormonal changes and genetic predisposition. It is more common in babies of mothers who had excessive oiliness on their scalps during pregnancy, indicating a possible genetic link.

How Is Cradle Cap Diagnosed and Treated?

Cradle cap is diagnosed by physical examination. Treatment is often not necessary, as the condition usually resolves on its own within a few months. However, if discomfort or other symptoms are present, treatment may be necessary. Treatment typically consists of:

  • Gently brushing and combing your child's hair to loosen and remove any scaly patches.
  • Regular shampooing with a mild shampoo to help reduce oiliness.
  • Applying mineral oil or petroleum jelly to the scalp for several minutes before shampooing to soften the skin.
  • Using medicated creams or ointments to reduce oiliness and loosen scaly patches.
  • Regular cleaning of the scalp and brushing of the hair with a soft brush.

Cradle cap should resolve on its own in a few months. If your child continues to have symptoms, it is recommended that you speak with a dermatologist to discuss further treatment options.