Cradle cap is a very common scalp problem in young infants also known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis. It generally makes an appearance when the infant is about a month old and continues for a few weeks. It is seen as a yellowish, brownish or whitish greasy crusty area on the top of the baby’s scalp.
Parents may also notice some hair trapped inside the crusts, but the condition almost never causes any permanent loss of hair from the area involved. Sometimes, there may be mild oozing as well, but that is also no cause for worry.
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Causes of Cradle Cap:
- Sebaceous glands: Sometimes overproduction of sebum by sebaceous glands can cause cradle cap. Sebum is hormone that helps to keep our skin smooth and supple, but sometimes when they over secrete then it causes yellowish crusts on the scalp.
- Heat and humidity: Intense humidity has been known to cause cradle cap in babies, as they over exert the sebaceous glands.
- Fungal infection: Fungal infections can spread causing cradle cap.
- Vitamin deficiency: Nutrition deficiency of Biotin, can also cause cradle cap.
- Lack of specific enzymes: Babies developing bodies, sometimes lack the ability to convert essential fatty acids properly leading to cradle cap.
What should I do if my baby has cradle cap?
Cradle cap is generally a mild problem and will not cause any damage to your baby’s scalp or hair. Do not try to peel away the yellow scales on your baby’s scalp, as this can cause the skin to begin peeling and may even cause bleeding. Using the following methods gently, you can reduce the occurrence of cradle cap.
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- In most cases, putting oil to soak the crusts followed by shampooing with your regular baby shampoo would help.
- It’s good to do this every day or at least on alternate days, as the crusts have a tendency to reform quickly.
- You may try to remove the crusts gently while shampooing, but do not be too vigorous as it may cause discomfort to the baby.
- More severe cases may be prescribed an antiseptic based shampoo. But it is advisable to use it in diluted form as advised by your dermatologist and not directly from the bottle.
- You may use a soft brush to comb the baby’s hair afterward. There are no issues with using a cap over it, but woolen fibers may stick to the crusts. Use cotton caps or cotton lined woolen caps as required.
How long will Cradle Cap last?
Cradle Cap will disappear on its own in a few weeks. Babies usually get cradle cap in the first three months, but by 8th month or baby’s first birthday it stops.
Is Cradle Cap Contagious?
No. Cradle cap is not contagious and is completely harmless. It will not cause any form of distress to your baby. Although the appearance is often striking, be assured that your baby will not have any discomfort due to it. It does not cause any pain, itching or irritation to the baby. And the condition is not contagious to your older ones or you.
Also Read: Is it normal if my baby has fine hair all over his body?
Is it ok to shave your baby’s hair with Cradle Cap?
Cradle cap would keep reforming for a few weeks and then will completely disappear. Occasionally, it may keep coming back throughout infancy. This, however, does not require more rigorous treatment and the same measures as described above would help each time it comes back.
If you plan to shave off your infant’s hair, it is advisable to do it when the cradle cap has resolved or has become very mild, as it will be uncomfortable for your baby. But, the final quality of hair and their density would not be affected even if it keeps recurring.
When should you consult a doctor?
In some infants, the eyebrows, ears and forehead region may also become red and scaly. Sometimes, the same may happen over the neck folds and armpits as well. If so, you need to consult a dermatologist for a detailed evaluation and treatment.
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