Cradle cap or infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis in medically term is a common problem in the skin, which is usually found in newborn baby from 2 to 4 weeks of age. As its name, the scaly skin mends feature to the condition occurs first on the baby’s scalp, occasionally spreading to the neck, cheeks, eyebrows, forehead, or behind the ears.


In some situations, the cradle cap smells and makes parents feel worried. However, this is a harmless problem and does not often cause any discomfort to an infant.

What are the reasons for cradle cap in baby?

Even though the accurate reasons are still not identified, researches have proved that the rash in skin having no connection with any poor hygiene or allergic reaction. In general, the potential causes would be as below:

  • Several food intolerance (for example dairy or gluten products), change in the surrounding environment or common allergens would result in inflammation and skin irritation, which eventually lead to cradle cap
  • Several hormones passed onto the infant by the mom before delivery which stimulates his or her oil glands
  • The growth of fungus and bacteria in the sebum
  • Excessive production of sebum in the scalp by the oil glands

A family history of allergy in the skin, including eczema, might increase the risks of having cradle cap in your infant.

Is it normal if cradle cap smells?

In some persistent situations, the excessive production of sebum along with the growth of bacteria and fungus might result in an unpleasant and disagreeable sour smell which clings to the infant. In general, using a couple of mild products for baby might help to reduce this yeast-like smell.

How to keep your baby from cradle cap?

In fact, it is quite challenging to prevent this skin problem due to its unknown reasons. However, the following preventative measures might help to lower the risks of occurrence:

  • Rub the scalp of your baby gently every day with the fingers or applying a soft brush to keep his skin healthy and enhance the circulation of blood
  • Shampoo every few days could help keep the bacteria and fungus from growing

Treatments for cradle cap

In most situations, it is not probably necessary for any treatments when the flaking skin disappears in a couple of months, often before the infant completes his first year. However, it would be helpful to keep track of any allergy triggers (annoying detergents or several food items) or dry skin.

The following are some safe and effective methods to prevent this problem from becoming worse or resulting in something more serious.

How to get rid of cradle cap

  • Frequently shampoo with a mild product would help to remove the dry flaking skin. In some persistent cases, doctor would recommend you to use a medicated type of dandruff shampoo, which is a useful product for treating the infants with hair. Always ensure to wash the soap off suitably to avoid any further problems in the skin.
  • After shampooing, brush the scalp gently with a soft brush to make the loose flaking skin clear, thereby helping to keep any dead skin cells from accumulating
  • Oral antibiotics or antibacterial creams (such as ketoconazole) might be prescribed to treat serious problems of cradle cap
  • Use baby products such as oils, lotions and shampoos, which are particularly for treatment of dry scalp in skin problems
  • Hydrocortisone cream has been proven to be useful in reducing the redness and inflammation

Natural remedies at home to cure cradle cap

  • Olive or almond baby oil: Using baby oil (almond or olive) to massage the scalp of your infant gently each night would help to loosen the patches of dry skin. A combination of several important types in the olive oil base could also be helpful for this purpose.
  • Coconut oil: Use some coconut oil for the affected area of scalp and then leave for about 20 minutes before rinsing it off. In general, it would work as a moisturizer, which helps to smoothen the skin as well as remove the crusts in the skin. Several people believe that a combination of grape seed and coconut oil would be a more effective to treat the cradle cap.
  • Jojoba oil: After a bath, applying jojoba oil gently on the scalp of you baby would help to decrease the production of sebum as well as prevent the growth of bacteria.
  • Baking soda: Make a paste with 1 part of olive oil or water and 1 part of baking soda, apply on the scalp and leave it for a few minutes. After that, use a soft brush to get rid of dry flaky substance before applying baby shampoo gently to wash it off.
  • Apply Vaseline (petroleum jelly) overnight and then accompanied by shampoo in the morning
  • Mineral oil: Rub a little amount of mild mineral oil on your baby’s scalp and keep it covered by a wet cloth for abound 1 hour before shampooing to remove any dry skin.
  • Eating yogurt: In general, this would help to prevent bacteria and fungus from growing in toddlers or older children since yoghurt is often considered as a natural probiotic.

Nancy D. Richardson

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