What is it? Cradle cap is a thickening of the skin on the scalp of newborns that appears as unsightly dandruff in the first few months.
Why does it occur? Cradle cap occurs in two situations. Because the top layer of skin is a dead layer, skin on all parts of our body continues to peel throughout our lives. We typically scrub our scalp and wash our bodies and are able to remove most of the dead skin. In the majority of cases of cradle cap, parents who are afraid to scrub hard, unwittingly leave a thick layer of dead skin on the scalp. The areas most commonly affected are above the two soft spots. (Remember, the brain is buried deep below the soft spots and you would have to stick a pin in about a half inch to get to the brain so scrub away.) In a few cases, cradle cap is caused by eczema or excessively sensitive skin that peels more than the average skin.
What can be done? Since it is usually a scrubbing problem, the best thing to do is to use regular shampoo and scrub a little harder. If that is intimidating, try using a small amount (less than a teaspoon) of olive oil and work it into the scalp and then use a soft adult toothbrush to remove the scale. If the face has some of the same scale, it is likely to be eczema and then you should come in to have it evaluated. We will likely use a mild steroid cream to soften the scale or identify a food allergy that can be eliminated from the diet.