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Cradle cap

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What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a build-up of yellow, greasy and often scaly patches of skin, usually on your baby’s scalp.

It’s a common and harmless condition causing no discomfort to the baby. It often lasts for a few months and usually clears up by the time the baby is 2 years old.

What are the symptoms of cradle cap?

The main symptom of cradle cap is scaling on your baby’s scalp. Sometimes there might be cradle cap on the eyebrows or behind the ears.

The affected skin can also appear red, flaky and a yellowish crust might also form. There can be some hair loss when the affected areas of skin loosen. Sometimes the skin might be red due to eczema underneath the cradle cap.

Cradle cap is not painful or itchy for your baby.

Example of a baby with cradle cap.
An example of cradle cap.

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What causes cradle cap?

Cradle cap happens when the skin on your baby’s scalp makes too much oil, called sebum. This prevents the skin cells from shedding properly and causes a build-up of dead skin on the scalp.

Cradle cap is not contagious and it is not caused by poor hygiene.

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When should I see a doctor?

See a doctor if you think your baby’s skin is infected. It may be infected if:

  • the skin looks red and inflamed
  • the rash is weeping or smelling
  • the rash is spreading
  • your baby is unwell
  • the cradle cap continues to worsen after your baby is 3 months old
  • your baby’s scalp is very itchy (your baby is scratching it a lot)

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How is cradle cap treated?

Cradle cap usually doesn’t need treatment. It should clear up on its own after a few months.

To get rid of the scale, you can regularly massage baby oil or Vaseline into your baby’s scalp and wash it out with baby shampoo. This should soften the crust, which you can then gently remove with a cotton bud or soft baby toothbrush.

If this doesn’t work, you can use a mild anti-dandruff shampoo. Be careful not to get it in your baby’s eyes. Don’t use anti-dandruff shampoo for more than 2 weeks on a baby.

Don’t force the crusts to come off.

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Complications of cradle cap

Sometimes the skin under the cradle cap can become infected, or eczema can develop underneath it.

Both of these conditions should be treated by a doctor.

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Last reviewed: September 2019

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Top results

Cradle cap

Cradle cap is the name given to the yellowish, greasy scaly patches that appear on the scalp of young babies. It is very common, harmless and doesn't cause discomfort.

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Cradle cap - myDr.com.au

Cradle cap usually gets better on its own, within a few weeks of appearing.There are several things you can do at home (self-care) to try to improve cradle cap and treatments are available from your d

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Cradle cap also known as seborrheic dermatitis makes the skin on babys scalp dry, red and flaky. It is harmless, not contagious and usually cures itself.

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Seborrhoeic Dermatitis and Cradle Cap - ACD

Seborrhoeic dermatitis and Cradle Cap is inflammation of the skin that usually occurs on areas of the body such as the head and trunk where there are a greater number of oil glands.

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Parenting and Child Health - Health Topics - Cradle cap

Cradle cap is a yellowish, patchy, greasy, scaly, crusty and sometimes smelly skin rash that occurs on the scalp of recently born babies

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Cradle cap treatment: babies | Raising Children Network

Cradle cap is the oily, scaly crust that babies get on scalps and torsos and in body folds. It usually doesnt need treatment and goes away by itself.

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Dandruff in children and teenagers | Raising Children Network

Dandruff is common and normal in children and teens. You can usually treat it with anti-dandruff shampoo. Read more about dandruff treatment and causes.

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Kids' Health - Topics - Dandruff

Dandruff is flaking on the scalp that some people start getting around puberty

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Post-inflammatory hypopigmentation - ACD

Damage to the skin from trauma or inflammation may result in discolouration of the affected area. Compared with normal skin, these areas may appear slightly lighter (hypopigmentation).

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Dandruff - myDr.com.au

Dandruff is when your scalp sheds excessive amounts of larger-than-normalskin flakes. These flakes stick to the hair shafts, eventually falling on the collars and shoulders of clothes.

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