Cradle cap is a type of seborrhoeic dermatitis seen in infants. It is characterized by greasy, yellowish patches of scaly rash that appears on the scalp of the baby. Usually cradle cap begins within first three months after birth. It is also known as crusta lactea or milk crust.
It is very common condition that affects nearly fifty percent of the babies. It is not contagious and can be easily treated. Simple measures like washing the baby’s scalp with mild baby shampoo and combing the scalp regularly with soft brush will help to get rid of these flakes and can also prevent the recurrence of the condition.
What Causes Itchy Cradle Cap?
Cradle cap is an inflammatory condition. It is not caused by bacteria or allergy or due to poor hygiene. Exact cause is yet not known. It is believed to be caused due to fungal infection as it shows remarkable improvement after anti-fungal treatment. Fungal infection can occur due to antibiotics given to mother just before birth of an infant or if antibiotics are given to the baby during first few weeks. Antibiotics will also kill the healthy bacteria which help to prevent yeast infection.
Another most likely cause is overactive sebaceous glands. Even after birth mother’s hormones remain in baby’s circulation, resulting in overactive sebaceous glands. These overactive sebaceous glands produce excessive sebum due to which old skin cells stick to the scalp instead of falling off.
Biotin insufficiency can cause cradle cap.
Itchy Cradle Cap Symptoms
One can see greasy skin covered with white or yellowish scales on the scalp. Sometimes there is thick crust on the scalp. Usually it is not associated with itching. But sometimes there will be mild redness and irritation of skin leading to itch. Due to itch baby will be crying and uncomfortable.
In severe cases skin may crack and result in secondary infection. In such cases consult your doctor and start the treatment immediately. Sometimes rash remains persistent and may spread to other parts of the body. It is necessary to consult your doctor in such circumstances.
How To Treat An Itchy Cradle Cap In Infants?
Generally cradle cap disappears on its own as baby matures. It is necessary to take opinion of doctor to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other skin conditions.
- One can give gentle massage to baby’s scalp using fingers or soft brush to remove the flakes.
- One can use almond oil, olive oil or coconut oil to massage the scalp and then brush the scalp with soft brush and remove the flakes. Then wash the baby’s scalp with mild shampoo to remove the oiliness of the scalp.
- One can use mild baby shampoo or shampoo made especially for cradle cap. Consult your doctor before using any shampoo.
- Doctor may advise anti-fungal treatment to treat cradle cap. Consult your doctor before using any over the counter medication for your baby.
- Wash your baby’s scalp at least twice a week to prevent scales from building up. If necessary you can wash baby’s scalp every day with mild baby shampoo.