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Treatment for Cradle Cap

Updated on September 30, 2012

Cradle cap is a common skin condition seen in young babies during the first 3 months of life. It is rarely seen in infants once of 1 year old.

Cradle cap is a form of dermatitis and though the cause is not exactly known it is thought to linked to the mother’s hormones circulating in the blood stream after birth. These hormones are believed to be associated with the over production of an oil called Sebum. The sebum builds up and prevents the natural shedding of the skin layers.

What does cradle cap look like?

It is a thick yellow greasy looking crust that appears in patches over the scalp. It can also be seen around the ears and eyes. The crust can be difficult to remove. Although it does look particularly pleasant, most babies seem unaffected by it.

Cradle cap is not contagious and therefore cannot be spread to any other babies.


Most treatments are relatively low cost and can be undertaken at home.

  • Olive oil
  • Vaseline
  • Baking Powder (Bicarbonate of Soda) may be mixed into a paste and put on the affected area for 10 minutes before washing off

These oils may be applied to the affected area for about an hour. You can use a soft baby brush to gently try and lift the crusty scales of the scalp before washing with a mild anti-dandruff shampoo.

It is not advisable to leave oil on overnight as sometimes advised as this can actually make the cradle cap worse.

The baby’s glands will continue to produce sebum oil which means that you may have to repeat the above treatment at some point. Your baby will eventually stop producing so much oil and the cradle cap should disappear by 1 year.

Cradle cap symptoms

The skin may appear red


Scales and flakes of skin

Yellow crusts

When to see the Doctor?

If the skin becomes red with small blisters that weep then the area may be infected. This can be caused by the same germ (staphylococcus or streptococcus) that causes impetigo. These germs can happily live on most people’s skin. Impetigo is highly infectious and should be treated by your Doctor.

  • Cradle cap doesn’t get better after 2 weeks of treatment
  • Your baby scratches or becomes irritated by the rash
  • The rash is spreading to other parts of the body
  • You are not sure if your baby has cradle cap

There is also a fungal condition that can sometimes be mistaken for cradle cap and needs to be treated in a different way. So if you are not sure check with your Doctor before using any home remedies.


Note: The guide is not meant to be fully comprehensive and is meant for information only. The author makes no guarantee, either expressed or implied, regarding the efficacy or use for any reason of the information contained within this article.


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      Emman 3 years ago

      You really found a way to make this whole proecss easier.

    • profile image

      Elena 3 years ago

      I lost my Mom at 12 years old. I have needed her evdryeay since. I try to keep her spirit alive by telling my kids stories about her. I learned to live life to the fullest and enjoy every day. I never not ever once take my kids for granted because I get how fragile life is.