What is Cradle Cap? How To Get Rid Of Cradle Cap ?
Cradle Cap, also known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis or honeycomb disease, is a disease occurring in new born babies. It is generally a non-contagious fungal infection which causes a yellowish, scaly rash to appear on the scalp of the baby. The baby is usually not affected by it much since it is not itchy or painful. Over time, it can turn crusty and hard. In most cases, it goes away on its own as new skin cells are formed under the crust. But to ease the removal, a mild shampoo can be used to wash the scalp daily. It is usually formed in the first 3 months after the birth of the baby and can take 3-6 months to resolve completely.
Cradle Cap Causes :
Most cases of cradle cap are caused due to a fungal infection, the genesis of which is usually in the antibiotics given to the mother just before the birth of the baby. Some of these antibiotics are transferred to the baby too which kill the bacteria which enable the old skin to fall off as new is produced. Because of this infection, the old skin cells remain clinging to the scalp which causes crusting and scaling. Sometimes, the mother’s hormones which also circulate in the baby’s system till a few days after birth can also kill the useful bacteria and cause Cradle Cap.
Cradle Cap Symptoms :
- Patches of skin appears thick or crusty as if the skin has dried up.
- It is usually present in the scalp but small patches also appear on ears, eyelids, nose, neck and groin.
- The colour of these patches is light yellow or brown or in some cases white.
- The patches of skin are usually oily or greasy.
If your baby is developing Cradle Cap, the first signs will be of oily skin patches which will appear on the scalp or around the face like on the nose or ears. Over time, the skin on these patches will start getting hard and crusty as the old skin cells die but do not fall off. Yellow or white scales will also develop on these patches. Occasionally, there might be little redness but it is nothing to worry about.
There are really no specific tests for cradle cap. It is known to be a pretty run of the mill condition in new born babies and can be easily identified on visual examination. It does not cause any discomfort to the baby nor does it have long lasting effect.
The most important step in diagnosis of cradle cap is to differentiate it from infantile eczema. As far as appearance is concerned, both cradle cap and eczema look similar with the same kind of crusty scaly skin. However, if it is eczema, there will be constant itching in the scalp. The doctor will most probably be able to diagnose cradle cap only through examining the scalp visually.
Cradle cap can heal on its own even without any treatment. It can vanish completely within 3-6 months from when it appeared even without treatment. Sometimes it can occur again in young children or young adults but then it is usually just a case of flaky skin which looks like dandruff and is not harmful in any way.
The best way to prevent Cradle Cap is to wash the baby’s hair or scalp with a mild shampoo on a daily basis or on alternate days. Make sure that you use only a mild gentle shampoo which is made especially for babies. However, this will not totally ensure that Cradle Cap does not occur. Even if it does, you should not be too worried about it as it is quite common in babies and goes away on its own.
Cradle cap itself is a type of seborrheic dermatitis and has no further sub types. If the seborrheic dermatitis occurs in an infant, it is commonly known as Cradle Cap whereas if it occurs in adolescents or adults, it is referred to as dandruff.
Cradle Cap in itself is a very minor skin condition and most of the time the baby will not even feel it or notice it. Although cradle cap usually occurs on the scalp of the baby, sometimes it may also occur on the eyelids, behind the ears and on the groin region. If it occurs in these different places in several patches, it gets more complicated to apply medication. These places are also within easy reach of the baby’s fingers and he may develop a habit of scratching at these patches as they would appear to be coarse and scaly.
Home Remedies :
The most tried and tested remedy for getting rid of cradle cap is to soften the crusty patch of skin and then use a comb to break it off gently while combing the baby’s hair. Some useful products which can be used to soften the cradle cap are Vaseline, Shea butter, olive oil and coconut oil. Some people have also been known to use baking soda mixed with water to soften the scalp. However, you must make sure that the baby’s skin is not allergic to any product you are using before trying it out on the scalp.
Cradle Cap Treatment :
Most people do not like to visit a doctor for the minor condition of cradle cap. Since it is a mild disease and can heal on its own, treatment is generally not advised for such a small baby. Besides, the above mentioned home remedies are more than effective in getting the cradle cap out. But still, if the cradle cap is not healing on its own even after several months, the doctor may prescribe application of clotrimazole or miconazole. For toddlers, the doctor may recommend an anti-dandruff mild shampoo or even an antifungal soap like ketoconazole.
Infection During Cradle Cap :
Cradle cap is simply a condition when the dead cells of the scalp remain stuck to it even after new cells have appeared under them. Pulling at the crust skin to force it to come out will only result in sores which can easily get infected. Sometimes, the new skin developing under the crusted skin may also get infected due to a germ called impetigo which causes blisters to appear and pop after a few days. If this happens with your baby, rush him to a doctor immediately.