If it looks like your sweet, beautiful newborn has suddenly developed a very nasty case of dandruff, chances are it’s actually cradle cap. If baby’s scalp has flaky, dry skin then it is what doctor’s call infantile seborrheic dermatitis and it’s very common.
It’s not really known what causes it, but it’s definitely not caused by poor hygiene or allergies. Some say it’s to do with the hormones that a baby receives from the mother at the end of the pregnancy cycle. They say these hormones cause the overstimulation of oil-producing (seborrheic) glands. However, there is no real consensus.
If you’re worried about the effect it might be having on your baby then you can rest assured it’s not contagious and it probably doesn’t bother him or her at all. The most severe forms may itch, but other than that your little one is blissfully unaware. However, it’s unsightly and no doubt you want to get rid of it as soon as possible. Here are a few tried and tested methods:
– Don’t pick at it. The dry, flaky skin will fall off when it’s ready to do so. Gently brush baby’s hair after bath time and you’ll naturally loosen the scales and then they’ll fall off on their own.
– You can gently massage baby’s head with your fingers. This will also help loosen the scales.
– Use a specially formulated shampoo for dealing with cradle cap. There are plenty out there that are very gentle on baby’s scalp and will help to soothe and moisturise.
– Shampoo once a day and make sure you carefully and thoroughly rinse out all the shampoo.
– Speak to your paediatrician if it is really worrying you. Ask about using a hydrocortisone cream, which is often used for things like eczema and other skin ailments. Use only a pea-sized amount each morning. Don’t overuse it though as it does contain steroids. Speak to your paediatrician or clinic to find out the exact amounts.
– If you want to go the natural route, olive or almond oil is a wonderful way to fight cradle cap. It’s incredibly effective, as strange as it may seem. Rub it into your baby’s hair and let it sit for a while, then gently rub with a clean toothbrush. The dry, flaky skin with be removed and baby’s scalp will be left soft and naturally moisturised. Repeat once a day for as long as necessary, but if it doesn’t improve speak to your doctor.