What should I expect if my baby has cradle cap (infant seborrheic dermatitis)?

Cradle cap is a scalp condition that happens in most babies. It’s generally a harmless condition that doesn’t cause pain, itching or discomfort. It appears within the first weeks to months of life and is rarely seen after 12 months of age in most babies.

The good news is that your baby’s cradle cap can be easily managed with simple at-home care. Apply petroleum jelly or mineral oil to your baby’s scalp to loosen scales, use a soft brush to gently remove scales, and, finally, wash your baby’s hair every day with a mild baby shampoo. If your baby’s cradle cap doesn’t improve with these measures, other products can be tried. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss your baby’s condition and treatment options.

Once cradle cap has cleared up, shampooing your baby’s hair with mild baby shampoo two or three times a week should prevent it from returning.

Can my baby go to daycare?

Because this condition is not contagious, your child can go to daycare or join in on play dates However, if there is also an infection present (sometimes a bacterial infection can result from scratching), avoid exposing other children to your baby just to be safe.

How will cradle cap (infant seborrheic dermatitis) affect my child’s hair?

Cradle cap will not prevent your baby’s hair from growing or cause baldness. Only in very rare cases will it cause temporary hair loss.

Seborrheic dermatitis is not limited to infants. Dandruff, flaky scales that build up on the scalps of individuals of teen age or older, is known as adult seborrheic dermatitis (ASD).

Is cradle cap (infant seborrheic dermatitis) the same as eczema?

Like cradle cap, eczema consists of red, flaky skin. Unlike cradle cap, eczema is very uncomfortable for an infant. It is often itchy, and can hurt if scratching opens a wound. Eczema can occur in the same places on the body as seborrheic dermatitis (underneath the scales), but it is a different condition. There is no direct link between eczema and cradle cap. An infant could have one or the other, or both, or neither.

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