Cradle cap

Cradle cap, the common term for infantile seborrheic dermatitis, causes scaly patches on a baby's scalp. Though cradle cap isn't serious, it can cause thick crusting and white or yellow scales.

Cradle cap usually resolves on its own within a few months. Self-care measures, such as washing your baby's scalp daily with a mild shampoo, can help loosen and remove the cradle cap scales. If cradle cap persists or seems severe, your doctor may suggest a medicated shampoo, lotion or other treatment.

Symptoms Causes Prevention

Common signs of cradle cap include:

  • Patchy scaling or thick crusts on the scalp
  • Greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales
  • Skin flakes
  • Possibly mild redness

Similar scales may also be present on the ears, eyelids, nose and groin.

Cradle cap is most common in newborns. It isn't contagious and probably won't bother your baby. Cradle cap generally isn't itchy for infants.

Cradle cap is sometimes confused with another skin condition, infantile eczema. One major difference between these conditions, however, is that eczema usually causes significant itching.

When to see a doctor

See your baby's doctor if:

  • You've tried self-care steps without success
  • The patches spread to your baby's face or body

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