Understanding what Cradle Cap is
Cradle cap is a type of skin condition that results in a crusting and scaling rash commonly found on the scalps of many infants, even those who are otherwise healthy. This sight of crusty skin on their baby’s scalp can cause worry and concern for new parents. However, after consulting with a paediatrician, most parents are reassured that this condition is quite normal among newborns.
This condition emerges in newborns when the sebaceous glands, which are beneath the skin and responsible for producing oils that coat the hair, become hyperactive due to the hormones from the mother that cross the placenta just before birth. Another term for cradle cap is seborrhoea of the scalp.
Cradle Cap Treatment
The good news is, cradle cap is a self-limiting condition and can be treated with readily available remedies. However, the condition might not always clear up quickly, which can lead to some awkward stares from people who aren’t familiar with it.
Cradle cap arises when new skin cells are being generated faster than the old, dry skin can shed. This speedy production of new cells contributes to the formation of a layer of crusty extra skin. Infants aged between 2 to 10 months old have an increased incidence of cradle cap, and it is quite rare after the age of 1. The condition is marked by red, patchy scales on the scalp which may appear cracked, greasy, and even weeping. This type of rash can also be present around the ears and the eyebrows.
When Does Cradle Cap Occur?
Cradle cap generally persists until the baby is between 8 and 12 months old. Diagnosis is straightforward, with doctors identifying the issue through a physical examination – no specific tests are necessary. Treatment decisions are often based on the comfort of the baby and the preference of the parents. If the skin condition causes discomfort or itching, some minor treatment can be beneficial.
One of the gentlest treatments involves massaging a small amount of virgin olive oil onto the baby’s scalp, allowing several minutes for the oil to soften the scales before gently brushing them away with a washcloth. Following this, the baby’s head should be washed with a mild baby shampoo. Regular shampooing can help control the condition.
After discussing with your doctor, you may opt for special shampoos containing salicylic acid, tar, or selenium if the baby is over 6 months old. However, these shampoos may irritate the baby’s eyes, so extreme caution must be taken to prevent the shampoo, suds, or water from getting into their eyes. If the problem persists or becomes inflamed, the doctor might suggest using a mild cortisone cream.
Treatment may be required intermittently over several months until the condition clears entirely. If you observe that the condition doesn’t show significant improvement with each treatment, with periods of decreased problems in between, it’s important to inform your doctor.
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