How to Treat Cradle Cap on the Face

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that can occur in infants during the first few months of life. The common name for this skin affliction is cradle cap. The exact cause of cradle cap is not known. However, scientists believe it may be due to over production of oil and a yeast called malessizia. When your baby's scalp develops that dry, flaky appearance associated with cradle cap, you may find the condition migrates down around the ears and onto the face. Facial cradle cap requires a different treatment than you might use for the scalp. The good news is that as your child grows the flakes will lessen, and the condition will disappear.

A newborn baby lies back on a matress while an adult's hand comes in to brush her hair. (Image: przemekklos/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Treat the condition on the scalp aggressively. If cradle cap is indeed the result of a yeast infection, you must treat all affected areas to improve the condition. Apply baby oil to the scalp. Massage the oiled scalp with your fingertips to remove any loose flakes.

Step 2

Wash the baby's head once or twice a week with a mild dandruff shampoo. Repeat the application once a month when the condition begins to fade.

Step 3

Brush your baby's hair often throughout the day. This will remove scaly areas of skin and keep it clean.

Step 4

Apply an over-the-counter extra-strength hydrocortisone cream to affected areas on the face. Do not get the cream in the baby's eyes or near the mouth. Apply the medication sparingly. Repeat the application twice a day until the condition improves.

Things You'll Need

  • Dandruff shampoo

  • Extra-strength hydrocortisone cream


Talk to your pediatrician before using any medication or medicated shampoo on your baby. The doctor may want to examine the irritated area to ensure the problem is cradle cap.

Load comments

Copyright © 2019 Leaf Group Ltd. Use of this web site constitutes acceptance of the LIVESTRONG.COM Terms of Use , Privacy Policy and Copyright Policy . The material appearing on LIVESTRONG.COM is for educational use only. It should not be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. LIVESTRONG is a registered trademark of the LIVESTRONG Foundation. The LIVESTRONG Foundation and LIVESTRONG.COM do not endorse any of the products or services that are advertised on the web site. Moreover, we do not select every advertiser or advertisement that appears on the web site-many of the advertisements are served by third party advertising companies.