What is the best treatment for cradle cap?

November 1, 2023

What is the best treatment for cradle cap?

Dr Yiannis, Paediatrician, here, along with our dedicated team at Childhealthy.

In this post, we review cradle cap, a very common condition, discuss treatment options, and offer you useful advice to manage this frequently seen, yet sometimes perplexing, condition.

What is Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap, medically known as seborrhoeic dermatitis, is a harmless skin condition that appears on the scalps of many newborns. It manifests as yellowish or brownish scaly patches that might look a bit alarming but rarely bothers your little one.


Is cradle cap painful for my baby?

No, cradle cap is typically not painful or itchy. Your baby is usually oblivious to it, even though it might look concerning to you.

Can cradle cap spread to other parts of the body?

Yes, in some cases, cradle cap can also affect the face, ears, neck, nappy area, and armpits.

How long does cradle cap last?

Cradle cap usually clears up on its own within several weeks to a few months. In rare cases, it can last up to a year.

Best Treatment Options

Cradle cap is mostly a self-limiting condition that goes away on its own. However, if it appears to be causing discomfort to your baby, persists, or spreads, there are treatment options available:

  1. Gentle Shampooing: Regular washing with a mild baby shampoo can help manage cradle cap. After shampooing, gently brush your baby’s scalp with a soft brush to loosen the scales.
  2. Medicated Shampoo or Cream: In persistent cases, your GP or health visitor may suggest a medicated shampoo or cream. These are specially formulated to help manage severe or stubborn cradle cap.
  3. Hydrocortisone Cream: If cradle cap spreads to other parts of the body or causes inflammation, a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone may be recommended. This is a prescription-only medication and is often given in combination with an antifungal cream, see below.
  4. Antifungal Cream: On rare occasions, if there’s a fungal component involved, an antifungal cream may be prescribed.

Always consult a healthcare professional before starting any treatment regimen for your baby.

Top 5 Tips for Managing Cradle Cap

  1. Resist Picking: It can be tempting to pick at the scales, but this can lead to irritation or infection.
  2. Regular Shampooing: Regular washing can help prevent scale build-up.
  3. Gentle Brushing: Use a soft brush to gently remove scales after shampooing.
  4. Keep it Dry: Keep your baby’s scalp dry, as moisture can exacerbate the condition.
  5. Seek Professional Advice: If the condition persists or worsens, consult a healthcare professional.

Cradle cap can be worrying, but it’s usually harmless and clears up on its own. By knowing what to do, you can keep your baby comfortable and their scalp healthy.

Remember: every child is unique, and so are their health needs. Always consult with a healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.

Best wishes, Dr Yiannis and the Childhealthy team.







Disclaimer: Information contained in this article is intended as general advice and does not replace a medical assessment. If you are concerned about your child, please contact your doctor for advice.


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