How to treat baby’s cradle cap

How to treat cradle cap in babies
What cradle cap looks like

Cradle cap is nothing to panic about, but it isn’t pleasant and as parents we just want it to go away.

It drove me crazy trying to get rid of my daughter’s cradle cap. At its worst it covered her head with big, chunky yellow flakes. The cradle cap extended down her forehead to near her eyebrows.

It looked awful, although it rarely seemed to bother her apart from when she scratched it in the night.

The cradle cap set in when my baby was just a week old. It quickly escalated and it looked horrendous.

Baby cradle cap

I was in absolute bits about it at some points. Just when I thought i was starting to get rid of the stuff, the next morning her head would be covered again.

It never got infected, thank goodness, but it’s awful seeing something so grim-looking on your gorgeous little baby’s head.

Also my baby lost all of the beautiful hair she was born with on top of her head and it has taken a long time to grow back, but at 10 months it is on its way.

I managed to get rid of my baby’s cradle cap after a lot of trial and error! Here’s a bit more information and what I did.

I can report after a lot of trial and error there was one product, which you can buy in the supermarket, that did the trick and cleared up the cradle cap fast. 

Some of the treatments I’ve listed below are natural cradle cap treatments, as I know some people will prefer not to use chemicals on their baby’s skin. This is totally up to you of course, just research the options and decide what you feel comfortable with using.

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is the greasy, yellow scaly patches that sometimes appear on the scalps of young babies.

The thick plaques or crusts appear on the scalp, but sometimes on the ears, eyelids, eyebrows, nose, neck, groin, or armpits).

It appears as greasy or oily patches of skin, often covered with white or yellow.

It is common, harmless and doesn’t usually itch or cause discomfort.

It can be tempting to attempt to just lift off the big flakes with your fingers, but please do not try this. You can end up taking away some of your baby’s scalp with it. Instead you need to loosen the flakes before you can brush them away.

What causes cradle cap?

No one knows. Many babies get it, but there are no answers as to what causes it. It generally always goes away by the time baby is six months old.

Cradle cap is not contagious and is not caused by poor hygiene or an allergy.

Things I tried

Olive oil

Although many websites and forums still recommend this as a magical cure, in fact olive oil use can be bad for the scalp.

I tried it before I discovered this, and it didn’t work anyway. Apparently olive oil can damage the natural barrier and increases the risk of eczema.

Have a chat with your health visitor to find out what the latest advice is, however I suggest trying one of the other options.

Coconut oil

This is praised for its magical effects on eczema, which my baby also suffered with. Although it is a lovely moisturiser, and I have used it as a treatment on my own scalp and hair, it didn’t shift the cradle cap.

Epaderm ointment

This stuff is seriously greasy. It made no difference but is lovely for bathing eczema babies.

I covered my baby’s scalp with it once a day. I would leave it on then gently wash it off.

Epaderm cream

Nice and rich, but didn’t help. A doctor suggested to me I could use the cream I had been treating her eczema with to treat her cradle cap. He said anything that moisturises the skin can help to lift the cradle cap.

Unfortunately this made no difference.

Diprobase lotion

This is a lighter moisturiser and it did help a little bit. However it didn’t make enough of an impact, it did help keep the scalp a bit less crusty after using it twice a day.

Oilatum shampoo

I found this actually seemed to make the cradle cap a little worse so I stopped using it immediately.

Dentinox shampoo

This stuff worked absolute wonders within a week. I was so thrilled with the results. I saw an improvement within a couple of days.

You only need to use a tiny amount of the shampoo, which is specifically for treating cradle cap, and massage it into the entire scalp.

I was nervous about using a product on her sensitive scalp however she had no bad reaction to it, the smell was pleasant and it absolutely cleared the cradle cap up within days.

Treatment plan for baby’s cradle cap

You need to be moisturising multiple times a day. Every time you change your baby’s nappy, put a little of what you’re using on your baby’s scalp.

In terms of washing the scalp, I tried doing it every day with cotton wool but this made no difference until I used the Dentinox cradle cap shampoo.

Once I started with the shampoo, the flakes would lift off easily if I rubbed wet cotton wool over them.

Bathing and care

I bought a cradle cap brush. It was cheap but to be honest it didn’t help a great deal.

It removed or loosened some of the flakes but not in any significant amount and the flakes were always back by the morning.

I would put the oil or whatever cream I was attempting to treat her with. Then I would leave it on for at least an hour, or sometimes overnight. Then I would rub it in circles all over the flakes.

Her flakes were so crusty and stubborn the brush was totally ineffective.

Do not pick at the scales as this can cause an infection.

Keeping baby comfortable

My poor baby was obviously suffering so badly with the itches. She would scratch her scalp so hard she drew blood. I tried to keep her nails as short as possible but it made little difference.

In the end I had to use scratch mits and a hat.

Now, the hat never stayed on after a night of fidgeting and pulling at it with her hands. I also found many scratch mits dropped off way too easily. To only ones I found that were nice and tight were some Peter Rabbit ones from Mothercare.

Baby cradle cap treatment

Keeping the head moisturised will help with comfort too.

Although wearing a hat overnight can help stop the scratching, it’s a good idea to leave the skin open to the air whenever possible as it can help it heal.

I hope these tips help. Please ask me any questions, I would love to help if I can.

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How to treat stubborn cradle cap in babies | parenting | newborn
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