Parents can treat cradle cap by washing a child’s hair daily with baby shampoo and gently brushing the scalp with a soft-bristled brush to loosen scaly patches, explains Mayo Clinic. Medical treatment is not necessary unless the condition does not clear up with home care. Doctors may recommend an adult dandruff shampoo to break down scales or hydrocortisone to manage inflammation. These substances may contain skin or eye irritants, so always consult a doctor before using them on a baby.
If standard treatment does not loosen the scales, parents can use a mineral oil and wrap the baby’s head with warm, wet washcloths before washing the scalp, notes MedlinePlus. However, caregivers must keep the cloths warm to avoid lowering the baby’s body temperature.
Cradle cap is the common name for seborrheic dermatitis that affects infants, states Mayo Clinic. The condition causes flakiness and crusting on the scalp, and thick yellow or white scales form in patches. Some babies have scaly skin on their ears, nose, eyelids or groin, but the condition does not usually cause itchiness.
Doctors are not certain about the cause of cradle cap, but they believe the condition is linked to overactive oil glands, according to MedlinePlus. The condition typically lasts a few months but can persist for two to three years. It is not contagious or related to poor hygiene.