Cradle cap, medically referred to as infantile seborrheic dermatitis, is a term that is used to refer to the yellowish scaly crusting that forms on a baby’s scalp. It is pretty common in infants and newborns and is very easy to treat.One of the key things to note is that cradle cap is not a result of poor hygiene, and as such, should not be used as an implication that the baby is not properly cared for.
Additionally, cradle cap is not an indication of any illnesses neither is it contagious, and should therefore be managed with simple home remedies. For proper natural treatment, it helps to know what exactly causes the formation of a cradle cap.
The cap constitutes skin cells, oil produced by the skin and dead skin cells. It is believed that after birth, the baby gets hormones from its mother’s system. These hormones trigger the overproduction of oil from the sebum glands, which once mixed with dead skin cells, causes the characteristic yellow flaking on the scalp.
Other locations where the condition may appear include the back of the neck, the eye region, the diaper area as well s the ears. To counter this, you need to use simple and gentle ways to reduce the amount of oil that accumulates on the scalp. Below are some of the home remedies that can be used to this effect, alongside the ingredients required and directions to be followed for the same.
NOTE: If you are concerned that cradle cap is linked to another underlying issue that affects your baby’s health, make sure you see a pediatrician to quell these fears.
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Warm water, a soft face towel, a small amount of baby shampoo, baby brush (with soft-bristles) and dry towel
Cleaning the baby’s scalp daily with baby shampoo is one of the ways to help treat cradle cap. This does not necessarily imply issues of hygiene; rather, cleaning the scalp with baby shampoo and warm water helps loosen the flaky crusting on the affected skin. Once the crusty flakes are loosened, they are easy to eliminate. This effectively treats the cradle cup without causing distress to the baby.
NOTE: Ensure that you use baby shampoo only as it is gentle on the skin and prevents irritation that would occur with conventional shampoo brands. In line with this, make use of a good baby crush to gently scrub the skin and avoid injuring baby’s delicate skin.
- Soak the soft face towel in warm water and squeeze so that it remains damp.
- Rub the warm towel on the scalp or affected skin to wet the skin. Do this as gently as possible especially in the fontanelle region ( this is the soft spot on a baby’s head that is perfectly normal and occurs as a result of the incomplete fusion of the bones in the skull). Undue pressure may cause severe injuries.
- Put a blob of baby shampoo on the scalp and scrub using the baby brush for a few minutes.
- Rinse the skin well with warm water to get rid of the foam.
- Dry the skin using the towel.
- Use this remedy once daily in the first week before upgrading to twice weekly until you are able to effectively get rid of the cradle cup.
2. Petroleum Jelly:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Petroleum jelly, soft brush, warm water and a soft towel.
In addition to washing the scalp using baby shampoo, one of the simplest remedies available for the natural treatment of cradle cap is the topical application of petroleum jelly. The remedy works by moisturizing the skin and helping eliminate the crust-like substances that accumulate. This remedy is not only convenient, it is also very easy to use. Incorporate the application of this remedy during bath time for the best results.
- About an hour before bath time, apply a generous amount of the petroleum jelly on the baby’s scalp.
- Massage the scalp as gently as you can to allow the petroleum jelly to spread evenly across the cradle cap area.
- Follow this up with bath time an hour later. Use warm water to wet the skin and then scrub carefully using the baby brush. Use baby shampoo to ease the process as well as prevent skin irritation.
- Rinse the skin well using warm water to get rid of the soapy remains.
- Pat the skin using the dry soft towel, taking caution not to do so aggressively.
- Use this remedy severally daily until you are able to eliminate the cradle cap.
3. Almond Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: 5 Teaspoons of almond oil, 1/2 teaspoon of tea tree oil, soft baby brush, baby shampoo and warm water.
Almond oil is loved, both for its health benefits as well as for its light texture. When applied on the part of the body affected by the cradle cap, its light texture ensures maximum absorption. Its health benefits on the other hand, enable the removal of the crust-like scales that form as a result of excessive oil production. Tea tree oil is added to soothe the scalp and skin. The combination of the two oils makes for an excellent home remedy for the natural treatment of cradle cap.
NOTE: Tea tree oil must not be used on its own as it is extremely powerful for baby’s skin, and will cause severe irritation and potential damage of the delicate skin. The oil is instead added to the almond oil for dilution purposes as well as to act as a carrier oil.
- Mix the almond and tea tree oil well. Use the ration 10:1 respectively, that is 10 parts of almond oil and 1 part of the tea tree oil.
- Apply the oil mixture on baby’s scalp and massage gently.
- Let the skin absorb the oil for 10-15 minutes before removing the flaky formations using a baby brush.
- Use baby shampoo to clean the head or baby soap to wash any other part of the body affected by the cradle cap.
- Use this remedy daily to get rid of the cradle cap.
4. Coconut Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: Coconut oil, water bath, warm water and soft baby brush.
Coconut oil has multiple benefits when used to treat cradle cap in infants. Not only is this oil rich in moisturizing properties, it is also provides excellent skin nourishment. Its regular application helps get rid of the cradle cap flakes that form on the head and different parts of the body. Coconut oil also has the added advantage of been rich in antimicrobial properties which help fight off potential infections. You may need a water bath to warm the oil if it is in solid state. This usually occurs as a result of temperature changes. What’s more, the warmth of the oil used for topical application helps soothe the skin.
- Place the coconut oil in a shallow dish and in the bath water to melt if it is in solid state, otherwise carry on with the steps outlined below.
- Carefully massage the coconut oil on baby’s skin to allow absorption.
- Leave the oil on for 20 minutes before rinsing off using warm water.
- Get a soft brush to eliminate the flaky substance left behind after rinsing.
- Dry the scalp and skin well.
- Use this remedy everyday until you are content with the results.
5. Olive Oil:
Time Required: 20 Min
What You Need: A small amount of olive oil, soft baby brush, baby shampoo and warm water.
Olive oil, just like coconut oil, works well thanks to its moisturization properties. Following the formation of the flaky crusts on baby’s skin, one of the most important things you need to do is to ensure that the skin remains moisturized. Olive oil does this amazingly well. Coupled with its healing properties, the oil’s benefits for baby’s skin help treat cradle cap with minimal side-effects. As with the other home remedies, you will need baby shampoo and warm water to rinse off the oil and loose skin flakes.
- Place a few drops of the olive oil on the palms of your hands and rub together until the oil is warm enough.
- Apply the warm oil on baby’s skin, preferably at bedtime so that there is ample time for the oil to act and loosen the skin flakes that cause the characteristic crusty appearance linked to cradle cap.
- In the morning, use the baby brush to get rid of the loose particles that fall off.
- You will then wash the scalp and rinse using warm water.
- Pat the skin dry and apply baby-friendly oil to lock in the moisture.
- Use this remedy daily until the cradle cap is completely eliminated.
6. Mineral Oil:
Time Required: 2 Hrs
What You Need: Mineral oil, baby shampoo, clean washcloth and warm water.
Mineral oil is recommended for the natural treatment of cradle cap because it is an excellent emollient that softens the skin. When applied on a regular basis, it helps loosen the skin flakes and moisturize the skin without blocking the skin pores. The latter benefit is very important because clogged skin pores make the symptoms of cradle cap worse. Mineral oil also has the advantage of reducing inflammation on the skin.
- Apply the oil on the part of the skin affected by cradle cap.
- Leave the oil on for 2 hours so that it acts on the crusty flakes present as a result of the cradle cap.
- Once the two hours elapse, wash the oil off using baby shampoo and massage for a minute or two.
- You may use a clean washcloth or soft-bristled baby brush to help dislodge the flakes.
- Make sure you rinse the oil off thoroughly using warm water. Failure to do this may easily cause the skin pores to block, thus worsening the cradle cap.
- Use this remedy daily to treat cradle cap.
7. Shea Butter:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Shea butter, mild baby shampoo, soft brush and warm water.
One of the most convenient ways to get rid of cradle cap is to apply shea butter on the affected skin. Shea butter is a popular remedy for varied skin conditions because it is rich in Vitamins A and E which are essential for healthy skin. In addition to this, shea butter is an excellent skin moisturizer, which is a key element in the treatment of cradle cap. Like the aforementioned home remedies, this butter is preferred because it has no artificial additives or preservatives, and therefore does not pose any risk to the baby’s skin. Follow the simple steps outlined below to use shea butter for natural cradle cap treatment.
- Place an adequate amount of the shea butter on the palms of your hands and rub well before massaging it on baby’s scalp.
- Massage gently for 5 minutes or so for proper absorption before combing the hair gently.
- Clean the skin with baby shampoo and warm water, and rinse carefully to get rid of all the shampoo.
- Use this remedy regularly until you are satisfied with the results.
8. Invest in a Warm-Mist Vaporizer:
Time Required: Depends on one’s needs and the amount of time spent in the nursery.
What You Need: A warm-mist vaporizer.
One of the most subtle ways to address cradle cap is to ensure that there is enough moisture in the baby’s immediate environment, usually around the nursery. This is because in dry air, dry skin dries even more, and this prolongs the process of recovery from cradle cup. Running a warm-mist vaporizer helps add moisture to the air, and this prevents the skin from drying up. In addition, the vaporizers act as a reliable source of heat, which in turn allows you to control your home’s central heating system.
- Keep baby’s immediate environment humidified to reduce the extent of the cradle cap symptoms. It helps to control your central heating system as well especially during the cold months since this form of heating strips the skin of its moisture content and predisposes it to excessive drying.
9. Breast Milk:
Time Required: 30 Min
What You Need: Breast milk, baby shampoo, warm water and soft towel.
Breast milk is a simple and readily available home remedy for many people. Due to its gentle nature and medicinal properties, breast milk is recommended for the treatment of cradle cap. What is good for baby’s stomach is certainly good for baby’s skin. Remember to wash off the softened skin flakes after using breast milk.
- Get about a bowl of fresh breast milk and apply on baby’s scalp.
- Massage gently, preferably at bedtime so that the remedy works overnight.
- The next morning, get rid of the soft skin flakes by washing baby’s head using warm water and baby shampoo.
- Pat the skin dry and repeat this remedy daily.
Important tips alongside these remedies include not using excessive pressure, avoiding sharp instruments (such as tweezers) to pull out the skin flakes as well as always moisturizing the skin. Cradle cap is not a contagious condition, and is therefore easy to manage with the regular use of any of the aforementioned home remedies. If, however, the baby’s skin experiences irritation, you are advised to stop using the specific remedy immediately. Remember to check with your pediatrician in case you have any concerns.