7 Helpful Tips to Get Rid of Cradle Cap
Cradle cap is a skin condition, common in infants, with symptoms such as dry skin, red irritation, and discolored, scaly patches. Cradle cap is most commonly found on an infant’s scalp but can also be present on the face, neck, and back. Although it doesn’t typically cause discomfort, its appearance tends to bother new moms and dads more than babies. If you’re interested in the different ways to treat cradle cap, besides time and patience, check out some of these tried and true methods.
Limit Baths and Bath Time
Overbathing your baby can do more damage than not in terms of cradle cap. Too many baths can cause dry skin which is associated with cradle cap. When an infant spends too much time in the water, it dehydrates their skin and causes the oily reaction that’s associated with the onset of cradle cap. Essentially, your baby’s sebaceous glands kick into high gear, dispensing an oily substance that may be the cause of the cradle cap in the first place. Sponge baths and wipes are a great alternative to excessive bathing.
Use Shampoo Treatments
Although your infant only requires one to two baths per week, using special shampoos during bath time can help remediate the cradle cap. Do your research to find gentle shampoos specially formulated for treating cradle cap. The best cradle cap shampoo for your baby’s condition will contain gentle ingredients such as pyrithione zinc which is approved by the FDA for the treatment of cradle cap. Such shampoos will reduce the flaking, discoloration, and irritation indicative of cradle cap.
Gently Brush or Comb Flakes Away
One effective way to treat the scaly flakes associated with cradle cap is to gently brush or comb them away. Even though it’s unlikely the flakes bother your baby, the appearance of a flaky scalp isn’t pleasing. One effective approach is to use a soft brush to gently loosen flakes while your baby is in the bath. In between baths, a fine-tooth comb can be used to gently lift loose flakes from your baby’s scalp.
Massage Mineral Oil into the Scalp
Though special shampoos and gentle brushing can typically loosen cradle cap flakes with ease, more difficult flakes can be loosened with the application of mineral oil or petroleum jelly. Gently massage a few drops of mineral oil into your baby’s scalp to loosen tough scales. Allow the oil to sit on your baby’s scalp for a few minutes, then shampoo and brush as recommended above. It’s best to use this technique on bath days because allowing the oil to sit for too long could make the condition worse.
Visit Your Pediatrician
For persistent cases of cradle cap, especially for cases that spread to your baby’s face, you should visit the pediatrician. There are effective topical ointments and medicines that the pediatrician can recommend to treat cradle cap. While at-home treatments usually do the trick, a visit to the doctor couldn’t hurt in extreme cases.
Tips for Nursing Mothers
Undoubtedly, breast milk is a mother’s superpower. Many nursing mothers have found that massaging expressed breastmilk onto a baby’s scalp is an effective treatment for cradle cap. Likewise, breast milk mixed into shampoo is an effective way to incorporate this liquid gold into your cradle cap treatment plan.
Utilize a Humidifier
Dry skin causes an excess in sebum (a natural, bodily oil) expression which in turn can lead to cradle cap. Maintaining well-hydrated and moisturized skin could reduce instances of cradle cap. One of the best ways to keep your baby’s skin hydrated is through the use of a humidifier. Humidifiers are a natural way to incorporate moisture into the air, warding off dry skin. Simply run the humidifier while your baby sleeps for optimal exposure.
Cradle cap is a pesky skin irritation that creates oily, flakes on the scalp and face. While in most cases it doesn’t cause discomfort, it’s not very pleasant to look at. Thankfully, cradle cap is not contagious and doesn’t usually require a doctor’s visit. Typically, with a little time and patience as well as gentle scalp care, cradle cap shouldn’t linger for too long.