Apparently, Toddlers Get Cradle Cap Too!
The other day I was brushing my daughterâ€™s hair, when I noticed some funky looking scales on the top of her head. I had seen this before when she was an infant and I knew exactly what it was â€“ CRADLE CAP.
I battled her cradle cap for months when she was first born. It haunted me for what seemed like forever before I thought we had finally seen the last of it, but here we are again. What. The. Heck?!?!?
After doing some reasearch, consulting my mom friends and talking to a pediatrician, it turns out that cradle cap in toddlers is totally normal. It isnâ€™t contagious and itsnâ€™t a sign of poor hygeine or Â bad parenting. Phew!
If your toddler suffers from cradle cap, like mine does, here is some helpful information for you.
First, what is toddler cradle cap?
Toddler cradle cap is a type of seborrhoeic dermatitis and it is very common. The sebaceous glands in the skin of babies and adults make a greasy substance called sebum, which helps make the skin waterproof.
Toddler cradle cap happens when the glands of the scalp make too much sebum, which then traps the skin that constantly flakes. This is why cradle cap looks scaly.
The glands may make more sebum than usual because of hormones from the mother which are still present in the baby, or skin yeasts (Malassezia furfur) may be part of the cause. Oher things that can cause a scaly rash on the scalp include eczema, psoriasis, tinea and scabies, but usually a yellowish, patchy, greasy, scaly and crusty skin rash is cradle cap.
What does it look like?
If your toddlerâ€™s scalp has flaky, dry skin that looks like dandruff, or thick, oily, yellowish or brown scaling or crusting patches, itâ€™s mostl likely cradle cap.
How do you treat it?
Toddler cradle cap usually goes away after a couple of months, but you can speed up the process or just make it look better with these measures. (Severe cradle cap is rare, and if you think your toddler has it, then consult your pediatrician.)
- Only wash hair every 3 to 4 days. Overwashing only causes dryness, which worsens the problem.
- You can consider using an anti-dandruff shampoo on your toddlerâ€™s hair, but you have to be very careful that it doesnâ€™t get in their eyes. Also be aware that these shampoos contain chemicals and strong fragrances.
- zInstead, you can massage a natural oil into your toddlerâ€™s scalp about an hour before bath time. I prefer to use coconut oil because it is a natural anti-fungal (some cradle cap is caused by yeast), wonâ€™t irritate sensitive skin, and smells great. After youâ€™ve treated the scalp with oil, take a soft brush or old toothbrush and carefully brush your toddlerâ€™s scalp. This will remove any excess flakes and encourage the cradle cap to soften and loosen.
- Be very gentle when removing the flakes caused by cradle cap. You donâ€™t want to damage your toddlerâ€™s skin, leaving it exposed to bacteria and prone to an infection that can make your child very sick.
- Do not use petroleum jelly to treat cradle cap, because some children have reactions to petroleum products that include irritation and skin weeping.
How can I prevent toddler cradle cap?
Thereâ€™s nothing you can do to keep the cradle cap from reoccuring.
Cradle cap may go away permanently after treatment, but it also may come back during the next few months because the treatment only removes the scales â€“ it does not stop the glands making too much oil.
Some babies with cradle cap may go on to have other rashes, such as eczema. In some cases, the child may be prone to dandruff around puberty because the sebaceous glands again make more sebum than is needed.
Morgan is a blogger and freelance writer living in Southern California with her two daughters and flock of backyard chickens. She is also the Associate Editor for mint.com and the Quicken blog. Her work has been featured on WSJ.com, Slate.com, The Huffington Post, and San Diego Home and Garden Magazine. In her spare time she enjoys fake shopping online, writing love letters to Ryan Gosling, and avoiding folding laundry.