Boston Baby Specialists Cradle Cap, I learned the importance of educating parents on their newborns’ appearance early on in my career. One postpartum nurse told me that she would run ragged throughout the night going from room to room answering questions about their baby’s skin, head shape, bent limbs, and lack of eyebrows.
Of course newborns are typically in the hospital for 2-5 days and not much changes in their appearance. The transformation from newborn to cute cherubic, picture perfect baby is quite astounding and as it seems, not all that well known among new parents. Cradle cap is a delightful little condition that happens to most infants to varying degrees. When I say varying degrees, I mean it can be so mild that parents are not aware, or it is so severe that it spreads beyond the baby’s head and onto her face.
One mom called me in a panic when she learned that the rash on her baby’s face, and across her eyebrows was in fact cradle cap! Not everyone knows that it is not limited to the scalp. Common signs of cradle cap include, patchy scaling or thick crusts on the scalp, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales, skin flakes, and possibly mild redness. Similar scales may also be present on the ears, eyelids, nose and groin. Do see your doctor if the patches spread to your baby’s face or body.
Boston Baby Specialists Cradle Cap
Cradle cap usually resolves on its own within a few months. Self-care measures, such as washing your baby’s scalp daily with a mild shampoo, can help loosen and remove the cradle cap scales. Gently rub your baby’s scalp with your fingers or washcloth to loosen the scales. I also see more often than not, a blotchy scalp as a result of mom picking at it! Wash your baby’s hair once a day with mild baby shampoo. Loosen the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush before rinsing off the shampoo. If the scales don’t loosen easily, rub petroleum jelly or a few drops of mineral oil onto your baby’s scalp. Let it soak into the scales for a few minutes, and then brush and shampoo your baby’s hair as usual. If you leave the oil in your baby’s hair, the scales may accumulate and worsen the cradle cap. Once the scales are gone, wash your baby’s hair every few days with a mild shampoo to prevent scale buildup. If cradle cap persists or seems severe, your doctor may suggest a medicated shampoo, lotion or other treatment.
Boston Baby Specialists Cradle cap is most common in newborns. It isn’t contagious and probably won’t bother your baby. Cradle cap generally isn’t itchy for infants.
Though the exact cause of cradle cap isn’t known, one contributing factor may be hormones that pass from the mother to the baby before birth. These hormones can cause an abnormal production of oil (sebum) in the oil glands and hair follicles.
Cradle cap is sometimes confused with another skin condition, infantile eczema. One major difference between these conditions, however, is that eczema usually causes significant itching.
It will pass, usually just in time for baby acne to appear. Don’t cancel the photo op however. Its who they are at the time and can be a memory that will make you smile years later when they are all grown up.