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Cradle Cap

What is Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap (also called infantile or neonatal seborrheic dermatitis), is a common harmless skin condition. It is believed to affect up to 75% of infants by the age of 4 months. It received the name cradle cap, because it most commonly shows up on the scalp.

It appears as flakes or yellow waxy plaques often on the head, but it can also appears on the eyebrows, forehead, ears, nose, neck and armpits. It generally show up on newborns and clears up on its own after a few months. However, it is not uncommon for toddlers to still have traces of cradle cap.


What causes cradle cap?

The cause of cradle cap is not entirely clear, but it is related to the over active sebum glands. The excess sebum causes the old skin cells to stick instead drying and falling off, creating a layer of dead skin.

There is also a type of yeast called malasseziathat is thought to contribute to cradle cap. The yeast breaks down the sebum. It does this by consuming saturated fatty acids, which in turn leaves unsaturated fatty acids behind.


How to treat cradle cap

Cradle cap will clear up on its own usually within the first year, but it is not uncommon in toddlers.

You can help remove cradle cap by applying an oil (our favorite is organic jojoba oil) to the areas affected by cradle cap. Gently massage the oil into the skin about 10 minutes before bath time. Once the oil has soaked in, you can use a soft baby comb or silicon brush made for cradle cap to help loosen the skin before washing it.

Once in the bath, take a gentle baby shampoo and massage it in to remove the excess oil that was previously applied.

It’s generally recommended not to use soap too often on children because it can be drying, but shampooing more frequently will also help remove the excess sebum and scales. To help with any potential drying effects of the added shampooing, make sure all the soap is fully rinsed from the skin. Bath herbs (like our Nourishing Bath Herbs), can also help soothe any irritation or dryness.

Even after following the guidelines above, it will take on average 2-4 weeks to eliminate thick plaques.


When to see a doctor

Cradle cap does not cause any discomfort. However, if there is any itching or it seems to bother your little one, then it’s worth a visit to a doctor since cradle cap and baby eczema can often look very similar. If it is eczema, check out our “Guide to Eczema in Babies and Children.”




Content from the Little Love Organics website and blog is not intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. The information provided on this website is intended for general consumer understanding and entertainment only. The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.