Cradle cap

Skin | Paediatrics | Cradle cap (Disease)


Cradle cap is a skin condition that affects babies, one of the things that it causes are yellowed crusts on the scalp. Most commonly it is present in the first three months of life, and it is mostly rare after the age of one year. It is a form of dermatitis, which causes inflammation of sebaceous glands in the skin. These glands help waterproof the skin by producing a slightly greasy substance called sebum.

It is usually not itchy, and does not bother the baby. Similar symptoms in older children are more likely to be dandruff than cradle cap. The rash is often most prominent around the eyebrows , the ear or the eyelids.

The signs of cradle cap include:

(1) Reddening of the skin

(2) Greasiness

(3) Scales or flakes on the scalp

(4) Yellow crusts.

Causes and Risk factors

Cradle is not associate in any way with poor hygiene or allergies; but it is a condition caused by overproduction of sebum, or natural oils, by the sebaceous glands. The cause of this overproduction is not known. It is possible that a yeast called malessizia plays a role in its origins. Cradle cap is not associated with any other known conditions. It is thought that weather extremes, fatigue, and infrequent shampooing might make it worse, but none of these are the actual cause of the condition. Most cases of cradle cap develop in infancy and disappear by age three.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Mild cradle cap usually gets better without treatment after a few weeks. The crusts can loosen by massaging the scalp with mineral oil (like baby oil) at night, then washing the hair with a baby shampoo the next morning, gently lifting the crusts off with a soft brush (a soft toothbrush can be good for this). It should be tried each day until your baby’s scalp looks clearer.

The cradle cap can come back, even when treated properly, because the glands still go on making too much sebum for several weeks. ...