What can I do about my baby's cradle cap?

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a patch of greasy, yellow-tan scales or flakes on a baby's scalp. It is not painful for the baby and is completely harmless. Many babies have mild cradle cap. Occasionally a baby will have such severe cradle cap that it covers most of the head, causing "cradle helmet."

What causes cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a side effect of the mother's hormones. During a pregnancy, the mother's body produces high levels of hormones. These cross into the unborn baby's body as well. After the baby is born, the leftover hormones make the baby's skin secrete sebum, the oily yellow material which causes cradle cap.

Besides cradle cap, mother's hormones can cause other harmless skin conditions like newborn acne.

What can I do about my baby's cradle cap?

Most lotions and creams don't help cradle cap. We recommend use of selenium-containing shampoo, such as Selsun Blue. Here's how we like to do it:

  1. At or after baby's bath time, dampen his head with a warm washcloth.
  2. Put a little shampoo in a bowl or dish. Add a little water to it and stir up a lather.
  3. Use a soft nailbrush to apply the shampoo. Dip the brush bristles in the shampoo mixture, then massage it gently into the baby's scalp around the scaly parts.
  4. Rinse the shampoo off the baby's head. Be careful to cover the baby's face with your free hand so the shampoo doesn't get in the baby's eyes.

Do this daily at bath time for about a week. You should see significant improvement. If not, be sure to let us know.