How To Treat Cradle Cap
What is Cradle Cap?
Most babies get cradle cap. It isn't anything to be embarrassed about and it shouldn't cause any alarm. It doesn't mean you are a bad mother either. The medical term for cradle cap is "Infantile seborrheic dermetitis." Cradle cap is an easier term to use. The name is only used for babies and toddlers, because adults can also get this condition, but it then has a different name.
Cradle cap causes scaly patches on the scalp that can cause thick crusting of white or yellow scales on the heads of newborns or older babies. Usually this happens in the first three months of baby's life. These patches usually occur on the oily spots of the scalp or in the ear. Occasionally it can be found on the face and other areas. Reddened skin may also go along with the condition. Although it is unsightly to look at, it is not dangerous.
What Causes Cradle Cap?
Doctors aren't sure what causes cradle cap.It is not caused by poor hygiene It is guessed that it may be caused by oily skin from overactive sebaceous glands or possibly a yeast infection called malassezia which is a fungus. I repeat, it is not caused by poor hygiene and a mother shouldn't be embarrassed if her babies get it. Most babies do.
Ways to Possibly Prevent Cradle Cap
Keeping the baby's head shampooed is the best way to try to keep cradle cap away, but the child may still develop the condition. It will help though, because it is believed it is caused by oily skin. The oily skin is thought to come from the mother's hormones before the baby is born. This is just a theory. Some infants seem to be more prone to the problem than others.
Don't shampoo the hair too often either. Since baby has gentle skin, this can dry out the scalp. Three times a week seems to be enough, but not more often than that.
How to Treat Cradle Cap
Once the baby has the condition, never pick at it or scratch at it. This could cause an infection or cause the condition to become inflamed. Instead, shampoo the baby's head with baby shampoo. Never use adult shampoo on baby's sensitive skin, but if it is a severe case some pediatricians recommend a mild dandruff shampoo. Check with your doctor first.
After shampooing, use a baby brush and lightly brush the infants head. This will help loosen the scales. Rubbing gently with a terry cloth towel helps too.
When my children were babies, we used baby oil to help the condition. I just rubbed it on the baby's scalp. Other suggested oils to use are olive oil, mineral oil, cocoa butter, or even petroleum jelly. I would think the petroleum jelly might create a bit of a mess though.
There is disagreement about how long to leave the oil on the head. Some doctor's say just for a few minutes and some even say overnight. Use your own motherly intuition or just use the oil before shampooing. To remove the oil, you can just rub it off with a wet cloth and then dry the hair.
When Do You Need to See a Doctor for Cradle Cap?
If the area becomes inflamed or infected it is important to see a doctor. Otherwise you won't need to visit the doctor unless the condition just doesn't go away. It usually clears up on it's own within a couple of weeks to a couple of months. If it doesn't, the doctor can prescribe a special shampoo or hydrocortisone cream.