Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Conquering Cradle Cap

The first time I heard of cradle cap was roughly 3 years ago whilst doing a quick late afternoon shop at Boots.  I'm not sure why I was anywhere near the baby section but as I was standing there I overhead two mom's talking about yellow and brown scales on their children's scalp and how they would ‘flake’ and come off in large bits, taking out strands of hair in the process.  They were looking at various products as both desperately wanted to treat it and quickly!

Thank goodness I hadn't eaten my dinner as I think I probably would have lost it after hearing all of that.  It sounded absolutely horrific, like a dreaded disease that this poor child had been inflicted with.  I was determined that my child would never suffer the same fate yet little did I know that my daughter, Isabella, would also develop cradle cap.

What is cradle cap
Also known as infantile or neonatal seborrhoeic dermatitis, cradle cap usually appears in babies in the first two to three months and can last from as little as a few weeks to a number of months.  It is usually found on the scalp but can also be found behind the ears, under armpits, back of the knees, groin area and also in the nose.  It appears in the form of patches of yellow or brown scales with crusty edges and can also be slightly greasy to the touch.  

When did Isabella start showing the signs? 
The first signs appeared when she was two months old.  I noticed a small patch of scalp on the tip of her head had suddenly started to develop small yellow scales, roughly 5mm in size per scale, with very crusty edges.  

It is very unsightly and my first reaction was to pick it straight off and so, against my better judgment, I began to gently pick off the scales.  This is something that you should of course never do as you can cause infection, ending up with a baby with a red and slightly inflamed scalp.  It can also and usually does result in baby losing bits of hair as strands are pulled out with each of the scales as they are lifted.

Why did my daughter develop cradle cap?
No one is exactly sure why babies develop cradle cap although I was told that it could be due to over active sebaceous glands in the scalp causing the scales to develop.  I immediately thought that this was due to me not keeping her hair clean enough and not maintain high levels of hygiene for my daughter but as many people assured me, it was simply something that happened and had nothing to do with me not looking after Isabella properly.  Fortunately in Isabella’s case it only developed on her scalp.

How I treated it
I soon discovered after consulting with my GP, Health Visitors and other mom's that it was easy to treat and by quite natural means too, especially in my daughter's case that was confined to her scalp with no signs of infection.  It covered a 3cm square area of her scalp and the best thing I could do was leave it alone to eventually disappear on its own yet there was a gentle way to treat it with predominately natural products.

When the scales appeared to be getting thick (about 1mm) I would lightly rub a very small amount of olive oil on them at bedtime so that they would soften over night.  In the morning, using a muslin cloth, I dabbed off any excess oil and then with a soft bristle baby brush I gently brushed away the loose scales.  They came away very easily and with less effort that the harmful picking that I had done in earlier months. 

I washed Isabella’s hair with baby shampoo once or twice a week as the oil made her remaining hair very greasy and after a day or two it didn't smell very nice but I wanted to use the least number of products on my daughter and the cradle cap as possible.

This treatment was very good in helping to slowly decrease the patch of cradle cap on her head over a two to three month period until one day it more or less disappeared, leaving extremely small soft brown patches that could simply be rubbed off.  By the age of about eight months her scalp was completely clear.

What to do if you think your child has cradle cap
One thing I will say is that cradle cap causes more irritation to the parent than to the child who probably doesn’t realise that there is any issue at all.  It wasn’t painful or itchy and Isabella never complained once, except for when I was trying to treat it. My daughter now has a beautiful head of hair with gorgeous curls that I love to twirl in my fingers and there is not a single scale in sight!  

I don't have that many photos of Isabella from when she had cradle cap as most of the images are of her face and not of her head, for obvious reasons.  I don't know many people that take head shots of their kids but I did find a few.  You can't really see the cradle cap that well but you can see the gradual stages of hair loss and then hair growth!

July - cradle cap comb over
September - chicken fluff hair
November - hair growing back
December - Superbaby with no cradle cap!
I hope that you found my personal account informative and useful and as every case of cradle cap can be different, please always consult with your GP or Health Visitor before treating the cradle cap yourself or diagnosing it as cradle cap for that matter.  Whatever you do, resist the temptation to pick the scales!



  1. Ah cardle cap how I loathe it . Fantastic description of how to deal with it ! Wish I had know about it ages ago .


  2. The information provided was extremely useful and informative. Thanks a lot for useful stuff..

    Cradle Cap Care


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