Also known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis, cradle cap is characterized by yellow or white scales or a thick crusty material on the scalp. This condition is relatively common in newborns and is generally harmless. Most of the time, cradle cap will go away on its own; however, this can take several months. In the meantime, some self-care measures can help make the condition more tolerable.
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Paste with Water
You can make a simple baking soda and water paste to help your newborn’s cradle cap. Mix one part baking soda with one part water. You can apply the paste directly to the scalp and let it sit for approximately one minute. Then, use a soft comb or brush to help remove the flaky material. If you apply the paste just before giving your child a bath, you can rinse it off easily in the bath.
Paste With Oil
In place of the water, you can make the baking soda paste with a natural oil, such as olive oil. Mix one part of baking soda with one part of oil. Then, apply the paste to your child’s scalp and let it sit for a few minutes. Remove the flaky, crusty material with a soft brush or comb before washing the paste off of your baby’s head.
Massaging the Paste
Whether you use a water-based or oil-based paste, you can help loosen the scales by gently massaging the paste on your child’s scalp. Do not pick at the scales. If they do not loosen on their own, leave them alone. If you pick at the scales, you can break the skin, making your child vulnerable to infection. After massaging the paste onto your child’s scalp, wash her scalp thoroughly to remove any remaining scales and paste.
See Your Doctor
While cradle cap is generally not a serious medical condition, you should see your pediatrician if the scaly areas spread from the scalp to other areas of your baby’s body. If the condition does not clear up on its own or appears to cause your baby discomfort, consult your pediatrician. He might prescribe a medicated shampoo or cream. If your child’s scalp begins to bleed because of cradle cap, consult your pediatrician.