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Cradle Cap

Condition Basics

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is an oily, yellow scaling or crusting on a baby's scalp. It is common in babies and is easily treated. Cradle cap is not a part of any illness and does not imply that a baby is not being well cared for.

What causes it?

Cradle cap is the normal buildup of sticky skin oils, scales, and sloughed skin cells.

How is cradle cap treated?

Cradle cap is not harmful to your baby. It usually goes away by a baby's first birthday.

Home treatment is usually all that is needed for cradle cap.

  • An hour before shampooing, rub your baby's scalp with baby oil, mineral oil, or petroleum jelly to help lift the crusts and loosen scales.
  • When ready to shampoo, first get the scalp wet, then gently scrub the scalp with a soft-bristle brush (a soft toothbrush works well) for a few minutes to remove the scales. You can also try gently removing the scales with a fine-tooth comb.
  • Then wash the scalp with baby shampoo, rinse well, and gently towel dry.

Credits

Current as of: February 10, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
John Pope MD - Pediatrics