Soâ¦you're sitting on the couch snuggling your newborn baby without a care in the world. You stroke her sweet little head and hit a rough spot? Upon closer inspection you notice a patch of thick, yellow crust - what in the world is wrong with your little angel? Don't panic, it's just cradle cap, otherwise known as crusta lactea, milk crust or honeycomb disease. The technical name for this condition is seborrhoeic dermatitis, which is also the term that is used when cradle cap finds it's way onto other parts of your baby's body. It has been known to affect the face, neck, armpits and even the diaper area. If you happen to notice this skin condition on your baby, there is no reason to rush to the doctor or get upset. About half of all babies are born with at least a mild case of cradle cap and it doesn't bother or harm your baby - with a few rare exceptions. It is believed, although not proven, that cradle cap is caused by overactive sebaceous glands due to the presence of the mother's hormones still circulating in the infant's system after birth. These glands secrete a greasy substance that causes the old skin cells to adhere to the baby's scalp rather than falling off as they dry. There are no cures for cradle cap, but later on in this article I will give you a review of the best treatments for your baby's cradle cap.
An important fact that you need to be aware of, is that cradle cap is not contagious. Your newborn cannot pass this condition on to their siblings, or anyone else, so there is no need to worry about touching or coming into contact with the scales or patches of milk crust. There is no real need to treat cradle cap as the condition will resolve on it's own with time, but there are very few mom's that can leave it alone because it tends to look quite disturbing and we all want our babies to be sweet and perfect! One thing you want to absolutely avoid is picking at them with your fingers. There are two reasons for this. The first is that if you remove a scale that isn't ready to come off, you could not only hurt your baby, but could also create an open sore where infection could enter your little one's body. The second reason that you should never pick at cradle cap is that your fingernail beds are a hot spot for bacteria and this is a really easy way to cause an infection in your baby's scalp! What you will want to use to remove the crust on your infant's head is a soft toothbrush, a baby hair and scalp brush (the one they give you in the hospital is perfect for this!), or a special cradle cap brush. You should brush your baby's hair and scalp frequently from the time their born to help eliminate the buildup of dead skin cells - this can also be a wonderful preventative measure against cradle cap.
It is debated whether or not frequent washing is good or bad for cradle cap. In my personal experience, the more I washed my daughter's head, the better the cradle cap appeared. I didn't give her a total bath every time because I didn't want her skin to get overly dry, but I would often just wash her scalp in the sink to gently loosen the cradle cap buildup.
There are many treatments for honeycomb disease and each of them claims to be the "miracle cure." One thing I learned in my research was that each baby is different and what worked for one, did absolutely nothing for the other. Don't be discouraged if one method doesn't work for you, just move on to the next one! Almost all of the following treatments for your baby's cradle cap are extremely gentle and there is nothing wrong with trying them all or a combination of several at a time!
The most common and widely used treatment for milk crust is oil. I found instances of people having success with many different types of oil, with the most popular being olive oil. There are so many different oils and they all have about the same amount of effectiveness whether its olive, calendula, coconut, jojoba, castor or borage oil. The method of treatment is the same. Put a small amount of oil onto the scalp and let it soak in for about 20 minutes. Then using either a soft brush or the tips of your fingers, gently massage the oil into the scalp. I was nervous about how much pressure I should use when doing this and my daughter's pediatrician said that you can be quite firm when massaging. Basically, your baby will let you know when they are uncomfortable and just back off a little from there! You then want to wash the oil off with a mild baby shampoo and you may have to wash twice to remove all of the oil. Some mom's leave the oil on overnight, but I don't agree with this as cradle cap is caused by overactive oil glands and you don't want to make the problem worse, but you can decide that for yourself! Don't be alarmed if there is hair coming out in fairly large quantities during this process, it is totally normal. Most babies lose hair after birth and my pediatrician told me that this process will not remove any hair that was not going to come out anyway, and it was actually just the cradle cap that was holding the hair to the scalp to begin with. Another good oil to try is tea tree oil. It smells great but has great bacteria-fighting properties and can soothe baby's scalp if he or she is having some irritation.
One of the most intriguing methods of treating cradle cap is to use breast milk! There are many testimonials that I read where the moms swore by this method! I figure that it's totally natural and can't hurt at all, so you might as well give it a try! The application is done during each breastfeeding session. You just need to express a small amount into your hand and gently rub into your babies scalp and let it dry. There is no need to wash each time and you can just stick to your usual bathing schedule. Breast milk does so many other wonderful things that this just might work. If I would have known about it at the time, I certainly would have tested it out! If you've used this method and had success with it, leave a comment at the end of this article and let me know about it! If you would like information on boosting your breast milk supply, click here!
There are also some really great shampoos and washes that can do wonders for treating honeycomb disease. The most popular, by far is Mustela Bebe Foam Shampoo For Newborns. This shampoo had amazing reviews!!! I found 44 reviews where the mom said that this shampoo worked like a charm and only 1 review that claimed it made no difference at all. It is also a tear-free formula and lasts for a long time. You won't have to worry about this shampoo leaving your little one's scalp and hair a greasy mess. I would definitely give this one a try first! A couple of other shampoos that got positive reviews were Paul Mitchell Baby Don't Cry Shampoo and Bella B Bee Gone Cradle Cap Foaming Shampoo.
I also found some great salves and creams that got good reviews. These are all oil-based treatments and are meant to be washed out after a time as they will leave your child's hair and scalp pretty greasy. Gentle Naturals Cradle Cap Treatment is a very common cream that you can get at most stores. You may find people explaining this one as the bottle with Winnie The Pooh on it, but the company has since changed the label and it has a picture of a cute little baby on the front! I used this on my little girl and had great success with it. Some others that are definitely worth checking out are Mustela Stelaker For Cradle Cap ( Some parents have had success using this to treat eczema also - for other eczema treatments, look here), Native Remedies Cradle Cap Salve and Little Remedies Cradle Cap Lotion.
One of the treatments that I found repeated over and over is to create a paste using baking soda and water and rub it into your baby's scalp. Leave it on for 10 minutes - but not more than that, and then wash out.
There are also a couple of treatments for your baby's cradle cap that I urge you to check with your doctor before using. One of these is to use a small, diluted amount of adult anti-dandruff shampoo such as Selsun Blue, Head & Shoulders and T-Gel. You need to be extremely cautious when using these shampoos as they can burn your child's eyes. Some doctor's warn against the use of these harsh shampoos on infants. The reason I included them in this article is that there seems to be a very large amount of parents that have had immediate success with the use of these products. The other method that a doctor may prescribe is a hydrocortisone cream. This is generally reserved for only the most severe cases of seborrhoeic dermatitis. You may run into some doctors that will offer to give you a steroid cream for the treatment of cradle cap, but I urge you to not use it. Almost all cases of cradle cap are completely harmless and don't bother your baby at all and I am against using something as extreme as steroids when it is unnecessary.
I did run into a whole list of products to treat cradle cap that had no reviews that I could find. I will list them here for you in case you want to check them out. Just because there were not any reviews doesn't mean that they don't work, they may just be more obscure than the others. Here they are: Kopec Naturals Cradle Cap Comfort, Baby Baby Cradle Cap Shampoo, Avene Pediatril Cradle Cap Gel, A-Derma Dermo-Pediatrics Cradle Cap Shampoo, & Erbavia Cradle Cap Oil. If you have any success using one of these products, leave me a comment and let me know about it!
Whether you decide to treat your baby's cradle cap or just let it run it's course, either decision is just fine. While cradle cap may look terrible, chances are that it bothers you far more than it bothers your little one so don't fret if it isn't cured quickly, it will go away! I hope you found some useful information in this review of the best treatments for your baby's cradle cap, let me know if you know of any other methods I can add to my article. Happy snuggling!