The cradle cap is a set of whitish or yellowish spots that appear on the neck haired baby a few weeks old . Stains are excess oil that has solidified in contact with air, giving the skin a scaly appearance , like dried wax. It is not very pleasant to look at but the good news is that it is not dangerous at all and usually passes alone , in 4 or 5 weeks from its appearance, at the latest until 3 years. However, a timely treatment is recommended to avoid its extension.
The causes of cradle cap are not exactly known , there are many theories. Formerly it was believed that it was due to an intolerance to the mother’s milk, but it is false. It is more related to possible hormonal disorders suffered by the mother during pregnancy and that reached the child through the placenta. As a consequence, the sebaceous glands of the scalp become overexcited, producing excess oil that turns into scabs when they come into contact with the natural bacteria on the skin and a type of yeast called Malassezia, giving a hardened and yellowish or gray appearance.
Apart from hereditary factors, there are others that contribute to the baby developing cradle cap, such as stress or living in very hot climates.
Cradle cap is not really dangerous nor does it pose any kind of danger to the baby, it does not even hurt them, in general they do not know it, except in some more serious cases in which they expel a little yellow liquid and itch. But generally the only problem is that it is unsightly. Sometimes the scab appears on other parts such as the forehead, eyebrows, ears, neck, armpits or groin.
HOW TO TAKE CARE OF THE BABY’S SKIN?
Cradle cap does not require special treatment and you can easily take care of it at home, but it is important to act quickly and take care of the skin so that it does not spread, that is, it is better not to let it pass.
1) Wash the head with a mild baby shampoo. If the baby does not present many scabs, it is enough to wash his head every day with a special shampoo for infants, while you do it you should take care of his skin by massaging it with the tips of your fingers. Normally after one day following this routine you will notice how little by little the scales begin to fall off.
2) Brush the hair with a soft bristle brush. Once they have come off, you can control their appearance by brushing the hair before washing, which will be twice a week and with a special brush with soft bristles. Always in the direction of hair growth.
3) If after a while you notice that the shampoo is not very effective, we will try to add a small amount of mineral , olive or almond oil. Let it act for approximately fifteen minutes and then proceed to rinse it off. It is very important to remove all traces of oil from the scalp and skin from the baby because if there are traces of fat, the only thing we will achieve is to worsen the problem, remember that the disorder was generated by an excess of sebum in the area. Finally, brush the hair to speed up the fall of the scales.
Another option is to leave it on overnight as if it were a hair mask and wash the next morning in the same way as we explained before.
4) Ask for a prescription shampoo if the flakes persist. In the event that the cradle cap does not finish disappearing, you should go to the doctor to prescribe a special shampoo that contains somewhat stronger substances: zinc, coal oil, selenium and salicylic acid, among others. With this type of shampoo, it should be enough because at the same time that the scabs fall off, they also hydrate and prevent the baby’s skin from drying out excessively, thus avoiding subsequent irritation.
In these cases the process will be the same. You apply the shampoo massaging it with the yolks and for a few minutes you let it act. You rinse and brush the scalp or skin gently. The first days you will have to do it every day but once the cradle cap disappears you will only have to use it once or twice a month to keep it under control.
5) Creams with hydrocortisone. When the cradle cap spreads to other areas of the skin, the doctor may prescribe special creams with hydrocortisone. Some are over the counter, as they are also often applied for insect bites or skin rashes . However, it is advisable to ask your pediatrician about them beforehand because he or she will be able to advise you which is the one that best suits your baby.
– You can remove the scabs when they are softened with a brush or by hand if necessary. However , do not do it if they are very stuck or with your fingernail . You could hurt or even infect the wound by contact with the microorganisms under our nails.
– Almond, olive or mineral oils are suitable for caring for the skin. If you also want that while the scab is removed to calm it and stop itching its head (if it itches), try letting the chosen oil macerate with mallow, calendula, mallow or chamomile flower , although you can also make a mix of all of them. All of these plants are medicinal and soothe the skin.
– You can rinse your hair with chamomile, mallow or calendula water to benefit from its medicinal properties.
– You should not buy products on your own without first asking your pediatrician, and much less if they are corticosteroids. Check first.
– To prevent cradle cap in the future you can buy a humidifier for the house. Many babies with this problem tend to have irritated and dry skin , so if the environment is too dry the problem will be worse. If you put the humidifier where your child will later be, the environment will be more humid and their skin will not suffer as much.