All about cradle cap

12:0AM, Jan 25th 2010

Cradle cap is one of the most common skin disorders in young babies, but it can affect children up to the age of five.

Cradle cap is one of the most common skin disorders in young babies, but it can affect children up to the age of five.

Cradle cap is a form of dermatitis. It can be mild, with just a few flaky patches of skin on top of the head or severe with thick, greasy yellow scales all over the scalp. It also crops up on the face, neck, behind the ears and in the nappy area, and the skin may look inflamed. Although it looks unsightly, it is usually harmless if the scalp does not become infected. It's thought to be caused by overactive sebaceous glands which produce too much sebum, an oily substance that the skin needs to keep it well oiled and healthy.

How can I tell if my child has cradle cap?

You may see thick scales on this head, often a yellow-brown colour, or red, sore skin on his forehead and eyebrows, behind and on his ears, in his armpits or nappy area.

How can cradle cap be treated?

Massage a little olive oil or petroleum jelly into his scalp before bedtime. This softens the patches of skin. The next morning, wash his hair with a mild shampoo and gently rub off any loose scales. Don't pick off the scales as the skin can become infected. Repeat every day until all the scales have gone. Also, try evening primrose oil drops in case there is a lack of essential fatty acid. These can be massaged into the affected area. If the cradle cap is very stubborn, take him to the doctor, who may prescribe a mild hydrocortisone cream.

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