Admit it: Of course you want a healthy baby with the proper amount of fingers and toes, but cuteness weighs up there as a close second, right? When all you get is crying, pooping and sleeping for a good portion of the first few weeks, baby adorable-ness is a pretty helpful quality to get you through the day. In reality, though, babies often have some aesthetic issues to work out after exiting your warm and cozy body, and Cradle Cap can be one of those issues. “Cradle Cap is basically dandruff,” explains NYC dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Vijay Mudgil, noting that it’s quite common in babies from post-birth to about 6 or 7 months. Here, Dr. Mudgil breaks down the causes of Cradle Cap and talks about how to treat -- or at least cope with -- the scaly scalp affliction.
What is Cradle Cap and what causes it?
The medical term for Cradle Cap is seborrheic dermatitis. It can occur on the scalp, face, neck, chest, and groin. The current hypothesis on Cradle Cap is that it’s basically dandruff. Some babies get it for the same reason that some adults get dandruff: they have a sensitivity to a yeast that is present on everybody’s skin. It can look like the whole scalp is completely covered with crust, but most babies are totally asymptomatic. It’s not about what it looks like, but what it feels like.
And what does it feel like? Is my baby in any pain?
There’s no pain at all associated with Cradle Cap, although it can be itchy.
Is it dangerous for the baby?
It bothers people for cosmetic and aesthetic reasons, but Cradle Cap is totally harmless. It doesn’t mean that anything is wrong immunologically, and it’s really common.
How do you treat Cradle Cap? Can I make it go away?
There’s no treatment that will make Cradle Cap disappear. Regular bathing or washing will take the scales off, which can be helpful for a temporary fix like baby pictures. If it’s itchy for the baby -- you’ll know from scratch marks on the scalp -- you can treat it with a low-potency prescription for hydrocortisone. But it won’t cure it; after a few days, it will reappear.
Are there over-the-counter rubs or oils from baby skincare lines that can get rid of Cradle Cap?
Like most beauty products, those are a total waste. There’s nothing that cures Cradle Cap except for time.
At what point, if any, should you call a doctor about cradle cap?
If you notice that scratching has caused bleeding, you should see dermatologist or a pediatrician.
Photography by KRISTY MAY PHOTOGRAPHY.