Cradle cap, also called seborrheic dermatitis, is caused by overproduction of oil on the scalp. The oil glands beneath the skin produce a cake-y substance called sebum. Cradle cap appears as flaky dry skin, like dandruff, or thick, crusty, yellow patches.
Sometimes cradle cap is mistaken as a severe case of eczema. It’s an unsightly mess that many parents don’t talk about (they fear their children are unclean or sick), but it’s somewhat common. It usually appears around the creases of your baby’s skin – the ears, nose, eyes, and even armpits. Unlike eczema, however, cradle cap is usually not irritating to your baby.
We aren’t 100% sure what causes cradle cap, but we know it doesn’t appear as a result of uncleanliness or allergies. The likely cause is hormonal. When your baby is in the womb, he or she is exposed to many of the mother’s hormones. These hormones linger in the baby’s body until they can be filtered naturally. In the meantime, they can cause some funny side effects. Here are some ways you can treat cradle cap.
1. Shampoo is the most effective way to clear up cradle cap. Use an over-the-counter tar-based shampoo. Work the shampoo into your baby’s hair well enough to wash away all the oil. Shampoo at least once per day and be sure to rinse it all out after the bath and brush the hair well.
2. Gently massage your baby’s scalp with your fingertips a few times each day to loosen the scales and clear away any debris. A soft brush might help too.
3. Oil your baby’s scalp. Use a vegetable oil, coconut oil, or olive oil. Massage it into the scalp, including the crusty scales. Let it soak for twenty minutes and the brush them out. You may want to use a fine-toothed comb to clear all the debris away, like a lice comb.
4. Omega-3 fats have strong anti-inflammatory properties that combat most forms of dermatitis. Breast milk and formula usually have omega-3s, but not in the quantities necessary here. Ask your doctor for a pharmaceutical-grade fish oil that’s safe for your baby.
5. Hydrate the skin. The scales may be caused by the scalp’s inability to retain moisture. Use a moisturizing soap during bath time. After the bath, pat your child’s head dry, but leave most of the water. Use an emollient ointment over the affected areas. This will seal in the water and hydrate the skin. You’ll also want to increase your child’s water intake.
6. Run a humidifier in any room the baby spends a lot of time in. Central heating (especially electric heating) can dry out anyone’s skin, especially sensitive babies.
Note that if your baby’s cradle cap begins to bleed or spread beyond your baby’s scalp, you need to consult your doctor. The doctor may prescribe a special dandruff shampoo, topical antifungal (if the cause is determined to be a yeast infection), or a cortisone cream.
Also keep in mind that children who have sensitive skin early in life often have sensitive skin throughout their entire lives. I recommend you keep a journal or notes about what types of things irritate your child’s skin, such as foods, detergents or environmental conditions. Over time, you’ll have put together a personalized skin-care program to help your child stay comfortable.
Guest Blog by Dr. Nina Farzin, Inventor of oogiebear
Nina is a wife, mother and career professional who never intended to start her own business. When her children were newborns, she ached to ease the discomfort from dry, stubborn, crusty mucus (boogers)! As a doctor, she knew there were no safe solutions on the market to help her kids, so she invented oogiebear, a revolutionary booger removal tool that helps babies breathe easier.
Nina graduated Howard University where she earned her doctorate in Pharmacy (R.Ph, Pharm.D). She is a Registered Pharmacist in Washington DC, Maryland and New York. Nina and her family are fitness enthusiasts who enjoy outdoor activities and healthy eating.
For more information, please visit myoogie.com.
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