What is cradle cap?C
radle cap is a patchy, greasy, scaly and crusty skin rash that occurs on the scalp of newborn babies. Cradle cap is infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis that is confined to the scalp. Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis may also affect other areas of the body such as behind the ears, the creases or folds of the neck, armpits and diaper area.Causes of cradle cap?
Cradle cap is not caused by infection, allergy or poor hygiene. The exact cause is unknown but it could be related to overactive sebaceous glands in the skin of newborn babies due to the presence of the mother's hormones in the baby's circulation. The glands release a greasy substance that makes old skin cells attach to the scalp as they try to dry and fall off. Who is at increased risk of cradle cap?
No particular baby is more at risk than any other. Cradle cap is a very common condition that usually appears within the first 6 weeks of life. In some cases the condition will slowly resolve itself over a few weeks while in others it may continue for 6 to 9 months, and sometimes much longer.Signs and symptoms
Cradle cap is characterised by greasy, yellow, scaly patches over the scalp. In some cases a thick scaly layer may cover the whole scalp. Over time the scales may become flaky and rub off easily. The condition is usually not itchy and in most cases babies are unaware of the problem.Treatment
Treatment of cradle cap is with mild baby shampoos. The scalp should be washed regularly and this, along with soft brushing, should help to remove the scales. Some people advocate the use of a baby oil or mineral oil (but not olive oil as this encourages proliferation of malassezia). Small amounts rubbed on the affected areas may help to soften the scales, which can then be more easily removed. Avoid over-rubbing your baby's scalp, as this can irritate their skin. Be aware that picking small sections of the cradle cap off can cause the area to bleed (just like picking off a dry scab). If the cradle cap does not improve with frequent washing or if the rash spreads to other areas see your doctor. He/She may prescribe your baby a medicated shampoo containing ketoconazole and hydrocortisone cream for any inflamed or reddened areas.Prognosis
Cradle cap is not a serious condition and is only temporary. It usually clears up by the time the child is 6 to 12 months old but may occasionally persist for longer. Some children continue to have cradle cap well into their early childhood years. Cradle cap is harmless and will not hurt your baby in any way, however many parents worry about how their baby looks. This healthcare initiative is brought to you by AsiaMed Connect and Apollo Hospitals Group in partnership with The Maravi Post. For free online medical consultation, send your queries to