What is Cradle Cap - Should you be Worried - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Cradle Cap

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 30 Sep 2014 - 16:20.

Cradle cap has nothing to do with cradle or a cap. May be it is called cradle cap because the infant mostly sleeps in a cradle and the scalp is the area affected with oily scales and rash. This postulation may be the reason why it is called as cradle cap.

It is a condition which affects the scalp of an infant especially the newborns and is least harmful. The child develops scaliness and redness on the scalp. This condition which usually appears anytime between 2 to 12 weeks after the child is born can be mild presenting itself as flaky, dry skin almost resembling dandruff. It can be severe when it is marked by thick oily yellowish scales or patches on the scalp.

The good news about this condition is cradle cap clears on its own, within few months after its appearance though during its presence it looks ugly to the onlookers especially the worried mother. When the baby is about 6 months old, cradle cap becomes a thing of the past since it never causes any problems in later life.

Besides the scalp the rash may affect other areas like the armpits and groin (napkin area) When it occurs on the scalp alone we call it as cradle cap. When other areas like the armpits and the folds of the groin (the napkin area) are affected we call it as seborrheic dermatitis a condition which is noninfectious and is comparable to a form of eczema that is very common in infants usually beginning in the first weeks of life of the infant and slowly disappears over a period of time. The only distinguishing feature between this condition and atopic dermatitis or infantile eczema is the absence of itching and discomfort.

Children born with atopic dermatitis have history of parents (either or both) having suffered from eczema or asthma. The condition is always related to some sort of allergy to food or intolerance to certain items mostly dairy items. Therefore, mothers whose child has cradle cap need not worry that her child could be a case of allergic dermatitis. The two conditions have different causes and their presenting symptoms and history are totally different. You have therefore, nothing to bother about.

Some mothers apply olive oil to the scalp and leave it for 15 minutes and then brush out the scales with a soft brush or a comb.

However, the correct method of treatment is to shampoo the scalp at least twice a week with a mild baby shampoo,scented or otherwise and wash the scalp, allow it to dry and then brush the scalp with a soft tooth brush or comb. Some pediatricians advocate just applying the shampoo and leave it for 15 minutes and then brush the scalp. In cases where the rash has spread to other areas like in seborrheic dermatitis the pediatrician might advise the use of steroid creams.

Frequent hair washing with a mild baby shampoo is the only method to prevent recurrence of the rash.

Even if the problem turns out to be seborrheic dermatitis, it is not a serious infection and is always self-limiting. It is certainly not due to any allergy or poor hygiene. 

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.