There is seldom something that is as important, precious and defenseless as a baby. Hence, it is a worrying sign for parents when their babies start to develop scaly, discolored and crusty patches on their soft, scalp skin. This happens when the child is suffering from a condition commonly known as cradle cap and medically known as seborrheic dermatitis. The condition, which is commonly attributed to affecting infants, can in some cases also affect toddlers. Irrespective of its name, the disease can affect others parts of the body as well as the face and not just the scalp.
Despite not being the most welcoming sight, this condition is not a permanent ailment and can die down with time. In addition to that, it is not harmful to your child, quite simple categorized by some doctors as the infant form of dandruff.
How do you find out whether your baby is suffering from cradle cap?
There are signs and symptoms that indicate whether or not your child is suffering from this skin condition. These signs and symptoms may differ from baby to baby, but are generally similar for most babies or toddlers. The fact that it is a skin condition means that its signs and symptoms are visual. Here is a detail of these:
- Thick crusts forming on the scalp
- Dry skin that is covered by either yellow or white scales
- Flakes on the skin
- A tinge of redness across the scalp
- Patchy Scaling
- Lack of Itching
There is also a similar skin condition that Cradle cap is often mistaken with. This skin condition, known as infantile eczema, can have similar features to a Cradle cap, with the only differentiating factor being that this disease lacks the itching sensation.
When Should Parents visit the Doctor?
The fact that it is a temporary skin condition should be of some comfort to most parents. Yet, seeing your child with a scalp that is covered by scaly flakes on top is not a pretty sight, meaning some parents can start to panic. However, you should call the doctor when either of the following two conditions occur:
- The skin condition starts to expand from the scalp to the face, neck and ears etc.
- The home remedies to try and beat this skin condition are not working.
What are the causes of this skin condition?
While it might look like an infection or an allergic reaction to something, Cradle cap is caused by neither of these things. Some parents can start to blame themselves but a lack of hygiene for their baby does not result in suffering from this skin condition. While there is yet to be a proper agreement on what Cradle cap condition is exactly a result of, there are two major theories in this respect.
One describes this inflammatory condition as a result of some kind of fungal infection, while others point out overactive sebaceous glands as its source. Primarily, the cause of the Cradle cap has to do with the hormones of the mother which have been inherited by the baby. One cause of this skin condition appears to be the insufficiency of biotin. There have also been unconfirmed reports of skin yeasts like Malassezia furfur playing their part in the coming about of this situation.
Treating the Baby for Cradle Cap
While it might be a bad skin condition to take a look at, the fact of the matter is that it is not as hard to treat and get rid of. Typically, if the Cradle Cap condition is limited only to your child’s scalp, you will be able to treat the condition yourself. This can be done in a number of different ways. Some of them will be highlighted below, but if these home remedies don’t work, it would be best for parents to contact a doctor for help.
The remedies are as follows:
· Give Your Baby a Nice Scalp Oil Massage
When you are about to take your child for a bath, you should wait for an hour before actually doing so. In the hour before the bath and the shampooing, it’s best that you treat your baby’s scalp with a nice gentle scalp massage lathered with mineral oil, baby oil, or petroleum jelly to allow the scales to loosen and for the crusts to lift. Once this is done, wait for an hour before actually giving the baby a scalp wash.
· Shampoo the Hair, it’s Alright
Parents can be reluctant to wash their child’s hair with shampoo if they are suffering from the Cradle Cap condition. This though will be one of their biggest blunders. Your child needs a washing of their scalp with a mild baby shampoo during the condition. In most cases, this should be done even more frequently than they are used to. While there are other stronger shampoos that can help get rid of the scales on your child’s scalp quicker than mild baby shampoos, but they have the side effect of causing irritation to the baby and should therefore only be used in consultation with a pediatrician.
· Manually scrub the scales off the scalp
Before you begin with the shampooing and washing of the hair, parents often manually try to eliminate the flakes off the child’s scalp. This needs to be done after you have wet the scalp for a while. A wet scalp will mean that the scales will have loosened; this would allow you to scrub them off easily from the scalp using a soft brush or a towel made of terry cloth. This scrubbing though, needs to be done gently.
Cradle Cap is not a condition that needs to be taken lightly, yet there are reasons to believe that this temporary issue has more to do with the child’s hormones than any mishandling or lack of care from the parents. Hence, you should go about your normal routine with the child, even if they have this particular skin condition.