Cradle Cap

A thick, scaly rash that appears on the scalp during the first months of life

  • Occurs between the ages of 1 month and 1 year
  • Gender, genetics, and lifestyle are not significant factors

Babies with cradle cap have reddened skin and thick, yellowish scales on the scalp. Scaly areas may also appear on the baby’s forehead and eyebrows and behind the ears. The cause of the condition is unknown. Although cradle cap can be unsightly, it is harmless. Rarely, the rash may become inflamed or infected by bacteria (see Impetigo) or fungi (see Candidiasis).

Cradle cap

The reddened skin and thick patches of yellowish scales on top of this baby’s head are typical of cradle cap.

What might be done?

Cradle cap eventually disappears on its own without any treatment. However, washing your baby’s hair and scalp regularly will help to prevent scale build-up. You can also massage baby oil into your baby’s scalp at night and then brush out the softened scales in the morning.

You should consult your doctor if these measures are not effective or the rash becomes inflamed or infected. If there is no inflammation or infection, a lotion may be prescribed to dissolve the scales, but such products can cause skin irritation and should be used with care. An infected rash may be treated with topical antibiotics or antifungal drugs (see Preparations for skin infections and infestations) and an inflamed rash with topical corticosteroids. The condition should start to improve within a few weeks of treatment but may take longer to disappear.

From the 2010 revision of the Complete Home Medical Guide © Dorling Kindersley Limited.

The subjects, conditions and treatments covered in this encyclopaedia are for information only and may not be covered by your insurance product should you make a claim.

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