How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap: 5 Natural Treatments

Cradle cap is mostly a cosmetic issue and usually goes away on its own, but read on to learn how to get rid of cradle cap quickly and naturally. 

What is cradle cap? Should you be worried? See what cradle cap really is, what causes it, and how to get rid of it for good with these 5 natural remedies.

So your precious newborn has developed scaly yellow patches on his or her head? Don’t worry: It’s probably just cradle cap—a common skin condition in newborns that usually goes away on its own. It’s mostly a cosmetic issue—and something that probably bothers you more than it bothers baby—but if you want to know how to get rid of cradle cap, read on. 

Cradle Cap Video: 5 Natural Ways to Cure Cradle Cap Fast

Cradle Cap Treatment: How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap

Since cradle cap doesn’t hurt or itch, the easiest option is to just let it be. In most cases cradle cap isn’t harmful and will clear on its own, typically within a few months. But if you still want to know how to get rid of cradle cap, you can try these natural remedies.

1. Soften with oil

Some parents have find simply massaging a raw, vegetable oil into the scalp once a day works wonders to calm inflammation and nourish baby’s tender skin. Plus, massaging the scalp is great for stimulating baby’s neural pathways.

  1. Apply coconut, almond, or olive oil to the affected area.
  2. Let sit for about an hour.
  3. Follow up with shampoo.

Alternatively, apply calendula infused cream or a thin layer of shea butter to the scalp.

2. Exfoliate with a brush

After using a special shampoo, or several hours after applying an oil, brush the scalp gently. The softened scales will come off much more easily, without damaging the scalp itself. Just be sure to use a natural brush with very soft bristles, like this one.

3. Use a special shampoo

Conventional dandruff shampoos are sometimes used on babies, but they contain harsh ingredients like coal tar and salicylic acid. Fortunately, you can make your own natural and gentle cradle cap shampoo (see recipes below).

Just be careful not to over wash. Frequent shampooing strips the natural oils from delicate skin and can actually cause an overproduction of the scalp’s sebum, exacerbating cradle cap. Shampoo two to three times per week, no more.

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Cradle Cap Shampoo #1: Chamomile Shampoo

Ingredients:

  • ¼ tsp unscented Castile soap
  • 2 chamomile tea bags
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1 drop each tea tree and lavender essential oil (where to buy)
  • 1 TB olive or coconut oil
  1. Gently massage 1 tablespoon of oil and essential oils onto baby’s scalp for about 2 minutes.
  2. Let the oil sit on baby’s scalp for 20 minutes.
  3. Comb baby’s hair several times to loosen up the cradle cap and start removing the flaky skin.
  4. Meanwhile, soak two organic chamomile tea bags in 2 cups of hot water for 20 minutes. Let water cool to room temperature.
  5. Put baby in the bath and rub their hair with ¼ tsp castile soap and scrub thoroughly yet gently.
  6. Slowly rinse the scalp with the chamomile tea, being careful not to get soap in baby’s eyes.
  7. Comb baby’s hair well to remove any remaining flakes. Repeat 2-3 times per week.

Cradle Cap Shampoo #2: Apple Cider Vinegar Elixir

Apple cider vinegar is a miracle worker for so many things, and cradle cap is no different. It’s probiotic and antifungal to help balance out the scalp naturally.

  • 2 TB raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup filtered water
  1. Pour the mixture over baby’s scalp, making sure that none gets in their eyes.
  2. Massage the scalp for a few minutes.
  3. Let the vinegar mixture sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with water.

Cradle Cap Shampoo #3: Iodine Aloe Gel

Aloe is soothing to the skin, but one study also found that this natural remedy improved dandruff symptoms by a whopping 58 percent. For this recipe, you can get a small aloe vera plant or a large aloe vera leaf from the health food store. Kroger and Whole Foods usually sell aloe leaves like this.

  • Aloe vera leaf
  • 1-2 drops nascent iodine (where to buy)
  • Unscented Castile soap
  1. Cut a small portion of the leaf and extract 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Add 1-2 drops of nascent iodine and apply to baby’s scalp.
  2. Leave on for at least 20 minutes.
  3. Wash out with Castile soap.

What to Do If Cradle Cap Doesn’t Go Away

If you know how to get rid of cradle cap, but don’t see any progress, it may signal a deeper issue, like a gut imbalance or mineral deficiency. If you suspect that’s the case, try these natural remedies for cradle cap.

1. Supplement and nourish

  • If you’re breastfeeding, it may help to increase your nutrient intake. (These nourishing meals are especially great for new moms!) Specifically biotin, zinc, B6, selenium, and manganese can help remedy cradle cap.
  • If breastfeeding isn’t an option, look into adding nutrient-rich foods when baby is ready for solids.

Omega-3s and vitamin D can help with cradle cap by improving skin health. These can be taken as supplements, or increased in the diet through food. Talk to your pediatrician about adding a few drops of cod liver oil, which is rich in vitamin D and omega 3s, under baby’s tongue or even adding topically to cradle cap sores. Wild caught salmon, oysters, flax seed, and chia seed are also good sources of omega-3s. Butter, tuna, salmon beef liver, and egg yolks are good sources of vitamin D.

Some recommend putting ¼ tsp slippery elm in baby’s bottle, or on the nipple prior to breastfeeding. This helps soothe the digestive tract and helps their body absorb nutrients more efficiently. Talk to your doctor before implementing, especially if baby is under 4 months old.

2. Add probiotics

Boost baby’s gut flora by adding an baby probiotic to their bottle, or by using this DIY nipple cream if you are breastfeeding. Alternatively, the breastfeeding mother can boost her consumption of high-quality and effective probiotics (where to buy). Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, and fermented veggies are all good dietary sources of probiotics, too.

Remember…

Cradle cap is just temporary. Spend some time learning how to get rid of cradle cap, but don’t fret if it’s not getting much better. Do what you can to keep baby comfortable, and if it becomes significantly inflamed, itchy, cracked, or oozes fluid, contact the pediatrician.

How About You?

Did you try something else? We’re always looking to learn more about how to get rid of cradle cap. Share your favorite natural remedies below.

Genevieve Howland

About the Author

Genevieve Howland is a childbirth educator and breastfeeding advocate. She is the bestselling author of The Mama Natural Week-by-Week Guide to Pregnancy and Childbirth and creator of the Mama Natural Birth Course. A mother of three, graduate of the University of Colorado, and YouTuber with over 85,000,000 views, she helps mothers and moms-to-be lead healthier and more natural lives.

6 Comments

  1. Question:
    Hello, them you for all the support helpful information. I have a few questions. Today I tried the whole cider vinegar elixir on baby Demi’s head during her bath. So far it seems to have worked on top where I poured the AVC. Although the sides of her head, behind ears, ears, forehead, eyebrows and eyelids still have cradle cap. My questions are:
    1. How often should I do ACV treatment in on her head?
    2. Is it safe to do ACV treatment anywhere else in her skin? The almond oil on skin isn’t stopping the cradle cap by itself on the head out face or anywhere else.
    3. How often should I wash her face? The cradle cap appears to make the skin seem dry, so I don’t want to overdo it.
    4, Does cradle cap spread? If so, how is starting prevented?
    5. I had to have an emergency C-section after a near natural birth. I’m sure I was administered some sort of antibiotic. I want to try to help my body recover and breast milk for Demi’s skin because the cradle cap is quite bad and seems to continue to spread and get worse. I’m sleep deprived and I can’t tell if I’m craving sugar due to that or hormones or because my gut Flora ia now imbalanced. Either way, will consuming low amounts of sugar help her cradle cap? Currently I eat dinner sugar every day. Before she was born I ate lots of fruit and now I’m wanting carbs and sugar.

    I know I have lots of questions. Thank you for answering any you can. I live in Germany and it’s difficult to understand and communicate clear questions to the pediatrician here. I really want to help her skin because it’s getting worse and worse and not better.

    • Hi Amber! I am just another user but wanted to add my thoughts in case they are helpful. I would think you should be fine to try the ACV anywhere on her skin. If it seems like her skin is getting more irritated, you could dilute the solution with more water or just stop using it in that area. Likely using it 2-3 times per week would be a good amount, and then the other days you could wash her face with plain water.

      I would say the sugar intake would likely not help her cradle cap, but also wouldn’t hurt it too much if you’re not overdoing it. You might already know all this – try as much as possible to eat natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup in porridge or yogurt. Fruit like you were mentioning is also good! Dark Chocolate also can be helpful for mood and is usually minimally processed.
      That being said, personally I also had sugar cravings and ate more candy and milk chocolate etc than I should have – we are all still alive haha. Those first weeks of postpartum are a rocky time of hormone shifts and transitions, so being gentle with yourself is a good policy 🙂

      Definitely get some good probiotics for yourself in case they did give you antibiotics. So sorry you had to have an emergency c/s – that sounds stressful! Glad you’re both ok and I hope you can get as much rest as possible! Sending you good wishes!

    • If possible, I would recommend using ACV intermittently (maybe once a week) and one of our other suggestions for cradle cap resolution in this article in between ACV treatments. ACV is safe for use elsewhere on the body. Wash baby’s face whenever you feel like it needs it! You can always just wipe it with plain water. Cradle cap is an overproduction of skin cells and can’t be easily prevented. Lowering sugar content can help improve gut flora, as can probiotics. Hope this helps!

  2. I “shampooed” it with my homemade exfoliator of coconut oil and baking soda mix. It softened it so I could pull it out with a scrubby sponge, which didn’t seem to hurt his skin at all. Completely gone.

    • Hello Jamie,

      May I ask what the measurements are for the coconut oil and baking soda? I’d really like to try it.

      Have a great day!

  3. Natural remedies for cough and sore throat. Tea – teas with ingredients like licorice and slippery elm have throat-coating properties that help reduce irritation. Herbal remedies, including those for skin disorders, are currently gaining popularity among patients and to a lesser degree among physicians. As appealing as the notion of natural remedies is for some, however, not all such remedies are safe or effective.


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