Common symptoms of cradle cap parents should not ignore
Fact-checked by MFine | Last Updated : November 7th, 2019
Does your baby have yellow, greasy patches on their head? This could be a symptom of cradle cap. Read on for tips on how to spot cradle cap and treat ...
Medically, cradle cap is known as seborrheic dermatitis. It can appear on babies who are anywhere between 2 weeks to 12 months old. While it might look alarming, cradle cap is rarely serious. It does not cause any lasting damage and babies do not appear to find it isn’t itchy. Since cradle cap can be confused with other skin conditions like cellulitis in babies, it’s important that you learn how to identify it when it appears. Cradle cap symptoms are easy to recognize because of their hard crusty appearance. Cradle cap, as the name suggests appears on top of a baby’s head, however, there are times when it can spread to the face, behind the ears and the legs. Also read our blog on Cellulitis in Children: How to Treat it Safely and Quickly Here are the most common symptoms of cradle cap to watch out for.In the case of cradle cap, the dry patches of skin will harden and appear flaky. Seeing this, some parents might be tempted to rub the skin and get rid of it. If you do this, though, you might break their skin, allowing the infection to set in. Watch out for these symptoms if you suspect your baby has cradle cap.
Cradle cap symptoms in babiesThe first cradle cap symptoms are most often flaky white patches that look like dandruff. This is not to be confused with the normal flaking of a baby’s skin that begins shortly after birth. During this period, your baby is getting rid of the vernix that protected their skin from the amniotic fluid in the womb.
- Yellowish, greasy scaly patches on the head
- Bright red and shiny patches in skin folds
- Patches on the face, in the armpits, ears, behind the knees or groin.
- If there is a raw rash behind the ears
- If you notice it getting red, swollen or bleeding
- If your baby is less than one month old and there are a cluster of pimples on their face
- If the cradle cap worsens or seems to be spreading
How did my baby get cradle cap?There are no definitive causes behind cradle cap. It could be a combination of things. One hypothesis is that it is caused by hormones passed from mother to baby, even before birth. This can cause the oil glands, particularly those in the scalp, to get overactive. Dead skin, instead of falling off, gets caught in the excess sebum, causing the scaly yellow crust that gives it the name. Another explanation is that yeast multiplies in the sebum along with bacteria. Also read our blog on Most Common Foods That Cause Eczema in Babies and How to Treat It Whatever the reason, parents must keep in mind that it is not due to any neglect on their part. It is not contagious and is usually mild and clears up on its own. Only in severe cases will it need your doctor to prescribe a treatment.
Cradle cap do’s and don’tsAlmost 10% of babies will show mild cradle cap symptoms in their first month. More than 70% of babies will have it by the third month. This means that almost all parents will have to deal with mild to severe forms of cradle cap. As mentioned, if you follow certain precautions and treatments, you will be able to cure cradle cap symptoms in your baby. Here a few ways to get rid of cradle cap without medication.
|Do use coconut oil or petroleum jelly to soften the crusty areas of the scalp.
|Don’t keep the baby’s head covered all the time. The scalp needs to breathe and covering it might cause the scalp to sweat more than usual and exacerbate the condition.
|Do use baby shampoo or a shampoo advised by your doctor.
|Don’t rub vigorously or try to remove the crust when it appears loose. This can break the skin, causing it to get infected.
|Do pat the head gently dry after a bath.
|Don’t use anti-dandruff shampoos as they will be too harsh for your baby.
|Do use a soft bristle hair brush. It will brush off any loose dead skin flakes.
|Don’t use soap on your baby’s hair.
|Do remember it is not contagious and it will not get passed on to other children.
|Don’t rub the scalp vigorously while shampooing.