how to treat cradle cap
Baby basics

How to treat cradle cap

Cradle cap is most common in newborns and causes scaly skin patches on the scalp or other parts of the body. Find out how to treat cradle cap safely.

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap (also known as juvenile seborrheic dermatitis) is an extremely common condition in babies.

It is the greasy, yellow scaly patches that can sometimes appear on the scalps of young babies. It can also appear on the face, ears, neck, nappy area or in skin folds, such as the back of the knees and armpits.

The condition usually appears in infants in the first two months and tends to clear up by itself after a few weeks or months. In most cases, it will clear by the time your baby is one year old.

What does cradle cap look like?

Cradle cap looks like large, greasy, yellow or brown scales on your baby’s scalp. These scales will begin to flake and the affected skin might have a reddish appearance.

Hair will sometimes come away with the skin flakes, but it will grow back.

Your 6 week survival guide

Causes of cradle cap

The exact cause of cradle cap is not known, but it is thought that a contributing factor could be hormones that are passed from mother to baby before birth.

It may also be linked to overactive sebaceous glands. These are glands in the skin that produce an oily substance called sebum.

Cradle cap is not caused by poor hygiene or an allergy and it isn’t contagious. Infants with cradle cap may be more likely to develop dandruff, which is another type of seborrhoeic dermatitis, when they’re older.

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.

Treating and preventing cradle cap

Most cases of cradle cap will clear up in their own time.

Washing your baby’s hair and scalp with a mild baby shampoo can help to prevent a build-up of scales.

Loosen the crust on the scalp by massaging in baby oil or natural oil.

Do not pick at the scales as this can cause an infection.

Contact your GP if your baby’s scalp becomes inflamed, bleeds or spreads to other parts of the body.

How to treat cradle cap

Tips on how to treat cradle cap

The first tip is to never scratch or aggressively remove the scales.

Secondly, the best treatment for cradle cap is to use a large amount of warmed olive oil all over the scalp.

Make sure the the oil is only gently warmed and is not too hot.

To stop the oil dripping from the scalp wrap a small amount of cling film around the top of the head only – not near the mouth or nose.

Leave intact for 30 minutes to one hour while supervising the child constantly. Wash out with plain mild shampoo and use a baby comb to remove the loosened scale.

Selene Daly, Dermatology Clinical Nurse Specialist 

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ASK LOUISE

Q My son is 18 months old and has just started saying his first words. It is an extremely exciting time in our house and my husband and I are eager to encourage his speaking as much possible. What advice would you give us on how we can foster this without bombarding and confusing him?

AThere is nothing better than hearing your baby begin to talk. All the hard work you have put in over the last two years is coming back tenfold.
Toddlers will vary significantly with ability and speed of which they talk however a guide would be about 50 words by 2 years of age. The most important thing to watch for is that your baby/toddler is cooing and babbling and begins to string sounds together like “Mama/Dada” They should have a wide range of speech sounds and like to imitate you and things they hear.
There are many ways that you can promote Speech and Language development at home:
1. Slowing down your own speech and taking time over conversations with your little one. Every day is a new experience when you are 18 months, nappy changes, bath time, baking a cake brings endless opportunity for you to interact and offer new words for them to hear and repeat. Make eye contact, smile and use exaggerated tones to keep things interesting and fun for your tot.
2. Review the toys that you have on offer to your tot and ensure that they give plenty of open ended play opportunities. Role play is a wonderful way to allow children to take the lead. Kitchens with lots of plates, cups and pots. Fill the pots with dry pasta and allow your child to cook and serve you. Playdoh, painting, gardening and sandpits are also great for allowing your child to take the lead and babble about what they are doing. Read plenty of books together and point and allow them time to answer any questions that you ask.
3. Limit screen time. Overuse of televisions and iPads do not give your child opportunity to interact in a two way manner.
4. Ask your child lots of open ended questions “What’s that?” “Where are we?” Point at things they know the answer to for boosting confidence (Car/ Car, etc.) When they don’t know the answer, explain it to them. Limit baby talk and speak clearly with good pronunciation, remember you are the teacher and they will copy you.
If you are concerned about your child’s speech and language development, be sure to speak with your GP or developmental Health Nurse. They are very skilled at understanding the difference between speech delays and spotting something that may require professional attention.
Enjoy watching their little brains absorb the world around them and listen to what they have to say. It won’t be too long before they won’t stop talking to you, asking “Why Mummy/ Daddy?” every 5 minutes….

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ASK JESSICA

Q. I’m would like to start an exercise programme that will benefit my emotional health as much as my physical health, but I don’t know which type of class would be best. Should I consider choosing from yoga, pilates, tai chi, or could you recommend a class, please?

A It’s great that you have decided to get into exercise. The benefits to you are going to be great. You’ll sleep better, have more energy, better skin, reduced stressed, not to mention all the amazing physical benefits of your clothes fitting better, and looking healthy, trim and toned! My advice to you would be to try them all. Even if some don’t offer pay-as-you-go sessions, if you get in touch directly with the instructor, they will almost always let you try it out first to see if it’s for you. All of the above things that you mentioned are great for mental health, so it really will be a personal preference as to which you go for. On top of the classes you mention, all forms of exercise will give you great mental rewards so consider the not so obvious interval training sessions, bootcamp, and circuits too, as you will also feel on top of the world after a class like that.