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Baby's head with cradle cap

How To Treat Cradle Cap

April 7, 2023

Cradle cap is a common skin condition that affects many newborns and young infants. Also known as seborrheic dermatitis, it typically appears as yellow, greasy, scaly patches on the scalp and can sometimes extend to the face, ears, neck, and other parts of the body. Although it is not harmful or contagious, cradle cap can be unsightly and cause discomfort for your little one. Here’s what you need to know about this common skin condition and how to treat Cradle Cap. 

Causes of Cradle Cap

The exact cause of cradle cap is not yet fully understood, but it is believed to be related to the overproduction of sebum, an oily substance that lubricates the skin. This can cause skin cells to clump together, leading to the formation of scaly patches on the scalp. Other factors that may contribute to cradle cap include:

Hormonal changes

Newborns experience hormonal changes that can cause the sebaceous glands to produce more sebum, leading to cradle cap.


A type of yeast called Malassezia can also contribute to the development of cradle cap.


Some babies may be more susceptible to cradle cap due to genetic factors.

Environmental factors

Certain environmental factors, such as cold weather and dry air, can also make cradle cap worse.

Symptoms of Cradle Cap

Cradle cap typically appears as greasy, yellowish patches on the scalp, although it can also affect other areas of the body. The patches may be flaky or crusty and can sometimes cause mild itching. In severe cases, the patches may become red, inflamed, and swollen, and may even ooze pus.

How to Treat Cradle Cap

Cradle cap usually resolves on its own within a few weeks or months, but there are several things you can do to help manage the condition and alleviate your baby’s discomfort. Here are some tips for treating cradle cap:

  • Gently wash your baby’s scalp with a mild baby shampoo, being careful not to scrub too hard or pick at the scales.
  • Use a soft bristled brush or a fine-toothed comb to gently loosen and remove the scales.
  • Apply a small amount of mineral oil, baby oil, or petroleum jelly to the affected areas to help soften and loosen the scales.
  • Leave the oil or petroleum jelly on for a few minutes, then gently massage your baby’s scalp to loosen the scales further.
  • Use a warm, damp washcloth to gently wipe away the loosened scales.
  • Repeat this process as needed, being careful not to overdo it or irritate your baby’s skin.

In more severe cases, your GP may recommend medicated shampoos or creams to help treat the condition. In rare cases, cradle cap may become infected, in which case your doctor may prescribe antibiotics or other medications.

We love the Cradle Cap Brush from Pourty, you can purchase it here.

Pourty brush

Preventing Cradle Cap

While there is no surefire way to prevent cradle cap, there are some steps you can take to help reduce your baby’s risk of developing the condition. Here are some tips for preventing cradle cap:

  • Wash your baby’s hair and scalp regularly with a mild baby shampoo.
  • Avoid using harsh or scented products on your baby’s skin, as these can irritate the scalp and increase the risk of cradle cap.
  • Keep your baby’s skin well-moisturised with a gentle, fragrance-free lotion or cream.
  • If you are breastfeeding, try to avoid eating foods that may trigger your baby’s cradle cap, such as dairy products.
  • Finally, be sure to talk to your GP or Health Visitor if you have any concerns about your baby’s skin or scalp. 



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