Effective Natural Ways To Treat Cradle Cap

natural treatments for cradle cap

The appearance of scaly yellowish skin on your baby’s scalp can scare any new parent. But don’t worry just yet! Cradle cap is not contagious nor is it an allergic reaction. Most importantly, it’s not dangerous. A common and harmless condition known as seborrheic dermatitis is at the root of cradle cap. It usually appears in babies in the first two or three months after birth and mostly clears up by the time the baby is a year old. In some instances, however, cradle cap can be seen in toddlers as old as three years.1 2 Causes for cradle cap can range from a fungal growth known as malassezia to high levels of residual hormones from the mother that cause overproduction of sebum.3

Cradle cap doesn’t generally cause discomfort or itching. So, if you notice swelling or if your baby’s scratching their head, it could point to others conditions

like atopic eczema, which is also common in babies. Atopic eczema, unlike cradle cap, is often associated with food allergies and can even be painful.4 5

Cradle cap can look different from baby to baby. It’s mostly found on the scalp but can also affect your baby’s eyelids, ears, nose, eyebrows, neck, or groin. It may affect skin folds too – for instance, in the armpits or back of the knees. Look out for signs like yellowish crusts on affected areas, greasy patches of skin generally covered with yellow or white scales, and flaking or scaling of skin. Sometimes, your baby’s skin might also appear reddish when the scales start to flake.You may notice hair loss too as the hair comes away with skin flakes. However, the hair generally grows back once the cradle cap goes away.6

Cradle cap generally clears up on its own in a few months. However, here’s what you can do to help it along.

id="gently-massage-the-scalp">1. Gently Massage The Scalp

Use a soft toothbrush, a soft hair brush, or just your fingers to gently massage and loosen crusty skin.

2. Try Mineral Oil

If the crusts do not come off easily, you can loosen them by massaging your baby’s scalp with mineral oil. Leave it in for about an hour before shampooing.

3. Rinse With A Mild Shampoo Or Ayurvedic Hair Cleanser

Wash daily with a mild shampoo as long as your baby has scales, making sure all the shampoo is rinsed off. Once the scales go away, shampooing a couple of times a week should suffice.

Look for shampoos that are mild and non-allergenic. If you’d like to opt for more natural alternatives, look for products with rosemary oil, coleus oil, clove oil, pepper extract, neem extract, or basil extract. However, babies have sensitive skin that can easily have an allergic reaction to ingredients. So be sure to rule out any allergies through a patch test before opting for a natural hair cleanser.7

Do keep in mind that cradle cap can come back even after it disappears as your baby’s oil glands may continue to produce excess oil.

4. Brush Hair Gently

Brush your baby’s hair with a soft, clean brush after you shampoo, as well as a few times through the day to get rid of scaly skin. Make sure you clean the brush with soap and water to remove scalp oil or scales.8 9

5. Avoid Foods The Baby Might Be Allergic To

Studies have found that infants with cradle cap got rid of all their symptoms within a week when allergenic foods were removed from their diet. Do find out what your child may be allergic to and eliminate it from their diet. And this holds true if you’re breastfeeding as well.10

6. Avoid Using Natural Plant Oils For Treating Cradle Cap

Saturated Fats In Olive Oil Or Coconut Oil Promote Yeast Growth

Oils like olive oil and coconut oil are commonly recommended for softening scales in cradle cap. But they contain saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. According to research, malassezia, the yeast associated with cradle cap, uses saturated fatty acids to grow. Excess unsaturated fatty acids may also cause inflammation and scaling. It might, therefore, be better to stick to mineral oil or petroleum jelly, which are not digestible by yeast, for dealing with cradle cap.11 12

Tea Tree, Eucalyptus, And Cinnamon Oil Are Too Harsh On Sensitive Skin

Some essential oils like tea tree oil, eucalyptus oil, and cinnamon oil act against malassezia, the yeast associated with seborrhoeic

dermatitis.13 14 15 But they might be too strong and, therefore, unsuitable for infants.16 17 However, for adults, adding a few drops of one of these essential oils to regular shampoo can be helpful in treating dandruff.

When To See A Doctor

You should seek medical attention for your baby in the following cases:

  • The symptoms don’t go away or seem to get worse after home care.
  • The condition spreads to your baby’s face
    or body.
  • Sometimes, the skin covered by crusts can get infected. Check if affected patches of skin ooze pus or fluid, become painful, or very red. This might indicate an infection which needs to be treated by your baby’s doctor. If your baby has fever, it could indicate a worsening infection.18 19