Even before I knew anything about health or babies I had heard of cradle cap.
I had heard of it, but that was really as much as I could tell you about it. Most people without knowing any better associate it with uncleanliness. If a baby has cradle cap that does not mean the parents are necessarily careless or neglectful.
Let me tell you what you need to know about cradle cap because it is far more common than you may realize.
We all have them, but what are they? They are exocrine glands that release oily substances onto our skin and hair follicles, which are entirely controlled by androgens (hormones).
We cannot control our genetic predisposition to how these hormones function. Some people have hormones on blast and produce much more oil, sweat, etc. than others. Thus, why some people have oily skin or hair, and some people have dry.
Hormones are important because they essentially regulate every basic function in our body.
When we were conceived our DNA that was formed is what laid the blueprints for our hormones. So if you have always had a terrible sweating problem from your under arms, but none of your friends seem to, you can thank your genetics.
You can’t stand how greasy your hair gets if you go one day without shampooing it- genetics again. This brings me to the subject of this article: cradle cap.
Cradle cap is the common term used for what is described as yellow, greasy scale-like patches on the scalp.
The formal name for this is seborrheic dermatitis and this can manifest in other locations on the body, but cradle cap is when it is localized on the scalp. It can start off very small and look like dry skin.
The most common time it will erupt in infants is about 3 months.
The sebaceous glands we talked about earlier are the cause of these patches. Your baby’s body is working very hard everyday as he or she grows and develops. Their little body is just beginning to produce it’s own hormones and sometimes it gets a little over zealous. Again, it is your baby’s genetic predisposition that determines how her body will respond to the developing hormones.
So, if your baby has androgens (hormones) that work extra hard they will cause the sebaceous glands to excrete excess oil from the scalp. This will build up and you will then gradually notice what we call cradle cap.
What cradle cap is not:
- It is not an infection
- It is not contagious
- It is not due to poor hygiene
The good thing about cradle cap is that it will self resolve.
Meaning, if you don’t do anything additional to the area it will go away in a few weeks time. It is very important to note that you should not pick at the area. This can cause damage to the underlying skin and can result in an infection. So please, please do not pick at the area!
What you can do to help the area resolve sooner is this:
- Cleanse with baby soap
- Use baby washcloth as a soft abrasive
- Rinse with warm water
- Pat dry
- Apply baby oil
You can repeat this process daily and will most likely see the cradle cap resolve within a week.
It is important to call your pediatrician if you feel like the area may becoming infected. You should monitor the are for signs of redness, foul odor, change in color of any drainage, or fever.
Cradle cap is essentially a benign skin condition that should not leave you worried. We have plenty of things to keep us worried, but this is a simple condition with a simple fix. Plus, the baby oil will leave your baby smelling so sweet!
I hope this helps, relax mama!