Cradle cap is called “seborrheic eczema” in medical terms. In simple terms it is the dandruff caused to infants. Sometimes, the baby’s scalp is affected with seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff. It may affect the skin causing red coloration and it causes thick scaly white patches on the scalp. Very often, this does not require any treatment since it resolves on its own. Application of mild shampoo can easily rectify the problem. In case the problem becomes severe, you can consult your doctor.
It is believed that cradle cap is caused due to excess of oil secretion on the skin. Yeast infection may also cause irritation and dandruff on the scalp of the baby. Some doctors opine that seborrehic eczema runs in families. There is chance for passing of dandruff from the mother to the infant before birth.
Sebaceous gland produces a type of skin oil called sebum and if there is increased production of sebum it will cause seborrehic eczema or cradle cap.
In case of adults, dandruff is caused due to dryness of hair, oily skin and changing shampoos often. Several skin problems like acne can also cause dermatitis.
This disease is characterized by the presence of dandruff or scaly yellow patches on the scalp. It may occur on different areas of the body like ears, chest, and eyelids and even on nose and lips. However this type of dandruff is harmless. It is observed in the form of thick whitish or brown scaly patches on the infant’s body. It is seen on the newborns and may wither off in one or two months.
Unlike dandruff, cradle cap does not spread to mother or others who handle the baby. It may be itchy for the child and may cause irritation on rare occasions. Plaques or skin lesions, flaking of skin, itchy feeling and hair loss are some of the other symptoms of this disease.
It is easy to diagnose cradle cap on physical examination.
You can apply mild shampoos or moisturizing oil on the affected areas of the child. It would loosen the scales and the lesions will wither gradually. You can also scrub baby oil on the scalp gently for 5 minutes. Use shampoo that contains selenium or any other corticosteroid in case if the dandruff is severe.
You can consult child doctor in case the dandruff spreads to other parts of the body. He may prescribe ketoconazole or medicated shampoo for relieving the symptoms. Medicated lotion can be gently massaged on the skin to get relief from irritation. Some doctors prescribe topical creams like immune modulators for treating the symptoms.
Do not use antifungal creams bought over the counter since it may contain toxic substances that may harm your child’s skin.
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Use shampoo daily on your child’s hair by gently massaging it. You can use your fingers to scrub the lesions gently so that the scaly patches get loosened. Until the scales are present, you should use gentle shampoo each day. After applying shampoo make sure to rinse it off with enough water.
Use soft brush for combing the infant’s hair gently several times. If the dandruff does not respond to the above remedy you can consult your pediatrician.