Health Education

Cradle Cap

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What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, is a thickening of the skin on the scalp of newborns that appears as unsightly dandruff in the first few months.

Why does cradle cap 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. The areas most commonly affected are the soft spot and the eyebrows. We typically scrub our scalp and wash our bodies and are able to remove most of the dead skin. In some cases of cradle cap, parents who are afraid to scrub hard, unwittingly leave a thick layer of dead skin on the scalp. In other cases, cradle cap is caused by eczema or excessively sensitive skin that peels more than the average skin.

What can be done?

Since it can be a scrubbing problem, the best thing to do is to use regular shampoo and scrub a little harder. 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. If that is intimidating or not helpful, try using a small amount of olive oil and work it into the scalp and then use a soft adult toothbrush or your fingernails to exfoliate the scales.