Cradle cap

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Cradle cap in babies: Tips for treating

Cradle cap (officially called seborrheic dermatitis) is very common in young babies. You can recognize it as patches of yellow scales or crusts attached to a baby’s scalp, eyebrows, behind ears, armpits, diaper area, or skin folds. It most likely occurs because of hormones that cause oil glands to become overactive, which makes dead skin cells stick to the skin and form yellow crusts. It is harmless, not contagious, not a hygiene issue, and will go away with time (typically by 12 months), so you can leave it be if you’d like! But if you want to help it clear sooner, here are tips.

Tips for removing cradle cap

Talk to your pediatrician if it gets worst with treatment, persists over 12 months, or for any other questions or advice about your child's cradle cap.

1. Baby oil

Gently massage baby oil into the scalp ~15 minutes before shampooing to soften the crusts.

2. Shampoo

Lather a mild baby shampoo and massage into your baby’s scalp with your fingers. Rinse off with lukewarm water.

3. Soft brush

Use a soft brush, comb, or even a toothbrush to loosen the cradle cap scales (don’t use your fingernails as this can cut the skin and lead to infection). If you’d like, you can find brushes specifically designed to loosen cradle cap scales.

4. Lotion

Rub a gentle lotion on their dry scalp – even if it gets all in their hair – and leave it overnight. Wash it out the next day.

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