Learn what causes that dry, scaly stuff on baby’s head. Plus, find out how to treat it naturally.
You may be wondering about those unsightly scaly patches that just appeared on your cute baby’s head. It’s probably cradle cap, and it’s nothing to freak out about. Up to 70 percent of infants will develop this condition within their first three months, meaning the condition is incredibly common. In this post, you’ll find out what it is, how to spot it, and what potentially causes it. Plus, learn how to treat it with natural remedies.
What is Cradle Cap?
These unsightly yellowish scales may not look the best, but they’re really just harmless baby dandruff. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the technical name for this scalp condition is infantile seborrheic dermatitis. Babies typically develop cradle cap between two weeks and six months of age, however there are some cases where the baby was born with it.
What Does Cradle Cap Look Like?
The scales are yellow tinged, and are typically greasy, though they can sometimes be dry. Unlike adult dandruff, there’s no itching or irritation involved, however they can be accompanied by redness. These scales can also show up in the eyebrows, groin, armpits, ears, and eyelids. (source)
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What Causes Cradle Cap?
No one knows for sure what exactly causes cradle cap, but there seem to be several likely culprits. Here are the theories:
- A bacteria imbalance in the gut. Your baby is especially susceptible to this if they were given antibiotics during delivery. Antibiotics are routinely administered during a C-section. That’s a double whammy, since a C-section baby also isn’t exposed to mama’s good gut flora by exiting the vaginal canal. See how to plan a gentle C-section here to help remedy this issue. Antibiotics may also be administered if mom is Group B Strep positive.
- A yeast infection. The yeast malassezia is said to cause certain types of dandruff and cradle cap. While this yeast occurs naturally in the body, when things get out of balance it tends to take over, causing dandruff. This ties in with the idea that cradle cap is caused by an imbalanced gut microbiome. (source)
- A weakened immune system. Breast milk is loaded with immune enhancing properties. If you aren’t able to breastfed, look into donor milk or healthy formula options.
- Nutritional imbalances. A deficiency in biotin, zinc, B6, selenium, or manganese can all contribute to cradle cap. Look into supplementing baby’s diet with foods rich in these nutrients when he/she is ready for solids.
- Elevated maternal hormones. The theory is that this can cause baby’s sebaceous glands to overproduce. This causes an overproduction of sebum and an overgrowth of new skin cells, therefore an abundance of flakey, crusty skin.
Cradle Cap Treatment
A conventional cradle cap treatment ranges from waiting it out, to chemically medicated shampoos and topical steroid treatments. But there are plenty of natural methods out there. Learn how to get rid of cradle cap.
Getting Rid of Cradle Cap: Should You See a Doctor?
Always check with your health care practitioner or doctor before giving baby supplements or remedies for cradle cap. If it becomes significantly inflamed, itchy, cracked, or oozes fluid, a trip to the doctor is a good idea. However, in most cases cradle cap is a cosmetic issue and nothing to be worried about.
How About You?
Did your baby have cradle cap? Did you treat it in any way, and how long did it take to clear up?