Baby Care

Cradle Cap in Infants - Causes of Cradle Cap in Babies, Signs & Symptoms of Baby Cradle Cap
Cradle cap in infants can be very common, but it becomes a matter of concern if it spreads. Read on to know about cradle cap in babies/ newborns.

Cradle Cap in Infants

Cradle cap, also known as ‘Crusta Lactea’, is a yellowish, patchy, greasy and crusty skin rash that occurs on the scalp of new born babies. It is something quite common among the newborns and begins in the first 3 months of the baby’s birth. It is usually not itchy and doesn’t bother babies much. But, if it starts getting thicker and starts spreading, it becomes a matter of concern. The rash is prominent around the ear, the eyebrows or the eyelids. It can also spread and appear at other places also, where it is called ‘Seborrhoeic dermatitis’. Almost half of the babies have a mild version of cradle cap. Since it is quite common among the babies, it is not taken seriously by the parents. Parents usually resort to homely remedies to deal with the problem, but, it is advisable to refer to the doctor. The earlier it is taken care of, the better it is for the baby. Read on to know more about cradle cap.

The causes of cradle cap are not clearly defined. It is not caused by any infection, allergy or from poor hygiene. It is possibly caused because of sebaceous glands in the skin of newborn babies, which is due to the mother’s hormones still in the baby’s circulation. These glands release a greasy substance that makes the old skin cells attach to the scalp instead of falling off after drying. Practitioners and physicians have also speculated that this disorder is caused because of baby’s immature digestive system being unable to absorb sufficient ‘biotin’ and other vitamins of B complex.

Signs & Symptoms
  • Thick and crusty patches can be found on the scalp of the babies suffering from cradle cap disorder. These patches may be in yellow or brownish color.
  • The skin on the scalp of the baby becomes quite oily and greasy. An oily and shiny skin is a clear indication of the disorder.
  • Babies suffering with cradle cap disorder may also experience hair loss.
  • White and yellow flakes of skin form on the scalp.
  • The skin of the scalp might even turn red in the worst scenarios. This is a rare happening, but if the problem increases, it might lead to a red itchy scalp.
  • Sores can also get formed on the scalp, if the problem goes unattended for long.
There is no well defined diagnostic test for cradle cap. The diagnosis is basically based on a thorough medical history and physical examination of the child. Examination of medical history includes family history of any skin problems, allergies or anything else that might have contributed to the problem. A physical examination, on other hand, includes the examination of any signs of cradle cap in the baby and its location. Also, any other rashes on the baby’s body are also checked in for. If the doctor tracks any allergic reaction, then the baby is recommended to an allergist.

  • Oil can be gently applied to the scalp if it is very hard. Applying mineral oil or any baby oil before shampooing can help soften crusty patches of skin on the scalp. After applying oil, wrap it with warm cloth for an hour. Do not apply oil after shampooing, as it may stick the flakes to the scalp, which can worsen the condition.
  • You can apply petroleum jelly like Vaseline liberally and leave it for overnight. The jelly will help the scales to soften and either fall off during night, or it can be brushed off in the morning.
  • Brush the scalp gently with a soft brush or with your fingers. This will help loosen the flaky skin and will improve the circulation in the area. This should be done before shampooing. This will help clean the dead skin cells.
  • Shampoo your baby’s scalp everyday with a mild baby shampoo or soap. You can reduce the use of shampoo to twice a week once the skin flakes are no longer present on the scalp. The shampoo should not be used for more than once in a day as too much of cleaning of the area may cause dryness, thus worsening the condition.
  • A paste can be made from sodium bicarbonate which can be applied on the affected area for 10 minutes. This is an effective method to get rid of the scales.
  • Ketoconazole shampoos and creams are proving to be very effective in the treatment of moderate and serious cradle cap cases. Research indicates that this anti-fungal medication is not absorbed in the bloodstream.

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