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How to Use Aquaphor for Cradle Cap

author image Natalie Smith
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.
How to Use Aquaphor for Cradle Cap
Treat your child's scalp with Aquaphor, then gently remove the scales. Photo Credit evgenyatamanenko/iStock/Getty Images

Cradle cap, or seborrheic dermatitis, is a skin condition characterized by greasy, yellowish scales on the scalp. If you wish to remove the unsightly yellow scales, you can treat your child's scalp with Aquaphor, a thick ointment that can help to soften the scales and make them easier to remove.


Seborrheic dermatitis is caused by overactive sebaceous oil glands in the scalp and other areas such as the eyebrows, around the nose, or in the outer ears, according to PubMed Health. When the scaling only affects the scalp, it is known as cradle cap. This skin condition has a hereditary link; however, neurological conditions like Parkinson's disease or stroke are also linked to seborrheic dermatitis. Stress, changes in the weather, drying shampoos and infrequent washing can all contribute to flareups.

Treating with Aquaphor

Aquaphor is an ointment that is meant to treat diaper rash and dry skin, but it can also help alleviate the symptoms of cradle cap. Apply the Aquaphor to your child's scalp while her hair is dry. Cover the hair with warm, damp towels. Leave the ointment on her head for one hour. Wash your child's hair with a mild shampoo meant for children, gently loosening the scales with your fingertips or a soft toothbrush. Rinse off all of the shampoo and gently comb the hair. Repeat the process up to every other day until the scales no longer appear.

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Cradle cap is most common in infants, and it usually goes away on its own as the child grows, according to Steven P. Shelov, author of "Caring for Your Baby and Young Child." However, more severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis may be a problem into adulthood, according to PubMed Health. Your child may continue to experience flareups throughout her lifetime. This condition can be managed with treatments such as medicated shampoos or ointments.

When to Consult a Pediatrician

If the scales are persistent or if your child seems uncomfortable, contact a pediatrician. Some cases of cradle cap do not respond to over-the-counter treatments such as Aquaphor. These severe cases may need to be treated with prescriptions to reduce the scaling and dandruff. In addition, if the scalp oozes or bleeds, your child may have a secondary bacterial or fungal infection. These infections can spread to other parts of the skin if they are not treated.

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