Cradle cap

Treating cradle cap

Cradle cap requires no specific treatment and usually clears up on its own after a number of weeks or months.

However, gently washing your baby's hair and scalp with baby shampoo may help prevent a build-up of flakes.

Gently massaging a small amount of baby oil or natural oil, such as almond or olive oil, into the scalp at night can help to soften and loosen the scales. In the morning use a soft baby brush or cloth to gently remove any loose particles and then wash the hair with a baby shampoo.  

You could also try washing their hair more frequently than usual (up to once a day) and brushing the scalp using a soft brush to remove any loose flakes.

It's important not to pick at the scales because it may cause an infection.

Stronger shampoos

If regularly washing your baby's hair has not helped, shampoos to help loosen cradle cap are available over the counter at pharmacies. Check the patient information leaflet before using these for any ingredients your child is allergic to and follow the instructions carefully.

Avoid getting any shampoo in your baby's eyes because they are stronger than ordinary baby shampoo. If you are unsure, speak to your pharmacist for advice.

Shampoos that contain groundnut oil or peanut oil should be avoided in children under five years of age. 

See your GP if your baby's cradle cap is severe, there is swelling or bleeding, or if there are signs of cradle cap on their face or body (seborrhoeic dermatitis). 

Treating infection

If your baby's cradle cap becomes inflamed or infected, a course of antibiotics, or an antifungal cream or shampoo, such as ketoconazole, may be prescribed by a doctor. A mild steroid cream, such as hydrocortisone, may also be recommended for an inflamed rash. 

Useful Links