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  • Angela Buehler

What Is That?!


I went to give a new mommy consultation, and realized that mom didn't know that the rash on baby's face, and across her eyebrows was in fact cradle cap! Not everyone knows that it is not limited to the scalp. Common signs of cradle cap include, patchy scaling or thick crusts on the scalp, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales, skin flakes, and possibly mild redness. Similar scales may also be present on the ears, eyelids, nose and groin. Do see your doctor if the patches spread to your baby's face or body.

Cradle cap usually resolves on its own within a few months. Self-care measures, such as washing your baby's scalp daily with a mild shampoo, can help loosen and remove the cradle cap scales. Gently rub your baby's scalp with your fingers or washcloth to loosen the scales. Wash your baby's hair once a day with mild baby shampoo. Loosen the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush before rinsing off the shampoo. If the scales don't loosen easily, rub petroleum jelly or a few drops of mineral oil onto your baby's scalp. Let it soak into the scales for a few minutes, and then brush and shampoo your baby's hair as usual. If you leave the oil in your baby's hair, the scales may accumulate and worsen the cradle cap. Once the scales are gone, wash your baby's hair every few days with a mild shampoo to prevent scale buildup. If cradle cap persists or seems severe, your doctor may suggest a medicated shampoo, lotion or other treatment. Cradle cap is most common in newborns. It isn't contagious and probably won't bother your baby. Cradle cap generally isn't itchy for infants.

Though the exact cause of cradle cap isn't known, one contributing factor may be hormones that pass from the mother to the baby before birth. These hormones can cause an abnormal production of oil (sebum) in the oil glands and hair follicles. Cradle cap is sometimes confused with another skin condition, infantile eczema. One major difference between these conditions, however, is that eczema usually causes significant itching.


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