What is Cradle Cap?
Cradle cap is a crusting and scaling rash found on the scalps of many healthy babies. This often happens because of excess hormones that get passed to baby from mom (from the placenta just before birth). The sebaceous glands(see picture) in their skin are hyperactivated because of these hormones. These glands pump out a greasy substance that keeps the old skin cells attached as it dries.
You might notice the same condition around your baby’s ears or eyebrows, or even in his armpits and other creases. When it’s not on his/her scalp, it’s called seborrheic dermatitis.
When does it appear?
Cradle cap can occur in any baby, and most commonly begins sometime in the first 3 months. I think my son had it pretty early. (within the first couple of weeks)
What are the symptoms?
I’m going to be non technical, baby’s head kind of looks like it has scales on it. It’s dry and crusty or flaky. But it can get pretty bad and sometimes the crusty flakes can weep a bit. Yeah doesn’t sound too yummy does it! But generally it doesn’t bother your babe, if it get’s pretty bad it may become itchy. You can always talk to your doctor about it if you are concerned! If it get’s red or inflamed your pharmacist may be able to suggest an over the counter cortisone cream.
Is it contagious?
How long does it last?
Usually it disappears between 8 and 12 months, if it does persist talk to your pediatrician.
Is there anything I can do?
Yes! Most of the websites recommend washing with shampoo more frequently to get rid of the oil that builds up and holds the dried skin on. But to me it doesn’t make sense to shampoo the crap out of dry skin! So I was reading up on various things to do for dry skin and I came across something that worked wonders for my son! (That’s not his head in the above mentioned picture by the way—but it looked pretty similar)
1)Olive Oil or Almond Oil
At first I thought I was just supposed to leave it on, and bush his hair and shampoo the next day. After reading up on this, you aren’t supposed to leave it on for more then 30 minutes, because it can actually make the condition worse–remember it’s caused by excess amounts of oil trapping the dead skin onto baby’s head. So I tried to brush it off, but not much dead skin came off. The oil is suppose to loosen the scales, and then magically they are suppose to be “brushed’ away. Well it didn’t work, and I hate the smell of olive oil.
In ancient times this was used as a moisturizer (very high in oils), so I thought what the hay, I’ll try it! So I picked up a ripe one (firm but a little mushy) and cut it in half, and mushed it with a fork.
So I had help with this because it’s messy! I took my mushed up paste (my son looked more interested in eating it) and spread it on his head–he was NOT pleased when I put this pasty cold stuff on his head. So (after I washed my hands and my husband held him awkwardly–trying not to get it everywhere) I proceeded to cover his head with a cap (a little beanie one)–if you are going to do this I suggest using a cap you don’t mind getting dirty. I waited 20 minutes and then gave him his nightly bath.
It left a green hue on his head (where the dead skin was) and I took a toothbrush to his head–god doesn’t that sound evil? This probably made all the difference. As long as you are careful about how hard you press, the bristles are so much stronger then the baby brushes, that it actually got all the dead skin off! He didn’t seem to mind either, so I knew I wasn’t hurting him. All in all a huge cosmetic success!
The bottom line
Some people actually use avocado as a deep treatment conditioner, so I was not completely off my rocker when I decided to try this. You can actually use this on your skin too if you have moisture issues. For us the Avocado worked better then the Olive oil, and I would do it again in a heart beat. One thing they do suggest is to brush your child’s head after his/her bath to make sure you get the dead skin off, so maybe investing in another toothbrush for their head isn’t such a bad idea!
I’m sure when my son get’s older he’ll kill me for posting this, but for now I’m still the mom!