cradle cap

If you just became a mum, the term cradle cap could take you by surprise. Are you familiar with this concept? At some point, you may have heard of it.

At least, you may know somebody whose baby underwent this condition in the early days of his life. Indeed, baby cradle cap is a skin problem found in newborns that may alarm new parents, but is it really dangerous?

In the following lines, we'll try to answer this and other questions regarding cradle crap, making sure that you aren’t left with any lingering questions or doubts.

No more than a skin condition 

What is cradle cap? As pointed out previously, it is a skin condition that affects newborns and that usually appears within the first two or three weeks of their lives. It's a special kind of seborrheic dermatitis visible on the newborn's scalp that can also spread to the back of their ears, face, armpits and skin folds. It shows up in white, and sometimes yellowish, patches of dry skin, caused by an excess of oils. About 10% of newborns suffer from it but luckily, it is harmless. In general, parents decide to treat it for aesthetic reasons, since it doesn't pose risks for the baby. If anything, it does provoke some discomfort in severe cases.

Why does it happen?

What causes cradle cap is the overstimulation of the sebaceous glands of the scalp. Most of the time, the skin reaction happens because of the change in the baby's feeding, once he's out of the womb. He goes from nourishing through the placenta to being exclusively fed with milk, which contains a lot of oils. Other causes include genetic predisposition or, less commonly, influence by the weather.

Easy to identify

Cradle cap keeps no secrets. It won't take much effort to realize that your baby is going through this annoying affliction. If you want to find out whether your little one has cradle cap, keep your eyes peeled for symptoms, including:

  • White or yellow patches of grease on the scalp
  • Yellow scabs on the face, which often turn reddish
  • Dandruff with a dry skin look
  • It spreads to other parts of the body

Pay attention

Even though it's harmless, there is cradle cap treatment when complications arise. Mainly, baby cradle cap naturally disappears as weeks go by, but sometimes it may require some work. These cases include big and infected patches that can cause discomfort. Ask your paediatrician or GP if you see that your baby is suffering some discomfort. 

When it comes to taking care of a newborn with cradle cap, you need to be very gentle, especially during bathing time. You can wash his hair with a wet washcloth or a sponge, but be delicate. Don't scratch the greasy scabs out, because that will make baby cradle cap worse. The white patches could get infected and make the problem last for longer.