Cradle cap

Some children develop cradle cap on their scalps. It looks like greyish-white scaly patches and is caused by dead skin cells and sebum from the sebaceous glands. Cradle cap, the medical name for which is seborrhoeic dermatitis, is completely harmless.

There is no need for treatment unless it bothers your child. It can sometimes be itchy. If so, you can massage baby oil into your baby's scalp and leave it in overnight. When you wash and comb your baby's hair the following day, you'll find that the scaly crust comes away more easily. If your child has a lot of cradle cap, try using salicylic vaseline, a prescription-free salve available from chemists.

Flaky scalp
Very young babies often develop cradle cap and it is not clear what the cause is. It clears up eventually, but it may take some time, and the scalp can get flaky. It is similar to a severe attack of dandruff, with large flaky areas. The scaly crust is slightly greasy and yellowish in colour.

Tips for treating cradle cap
Try the following:
• Massage baby's scalp with baby oil in the evenings.
• In the morning, wash their hair – using a little mild, unscented baby shampoo if you like. Check out our tips on washing your child's hair.
• Next, rub your baby's scalp carefully with a towel or remove the flakes gently using a fine-toothed comb.
• You can also massage baby's scalp with balm containing borage oil. The oil helps the skin to heal and can also be used preventively.

Salicylic vaseline 2%
If your child has cradle cap on the forehead or eyebrows, buy a good, unscented shampoo or salicylic vaseline 2% from a chemist. Read the instructions carefully.
If the cradle cap does not disappear, contact your paediatric clinic.
Read more about baby's skin – dry skin, eczema, flaking and spots.

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