Cradle cap is the name given to the yellowish, greasy scaly patches that appear on the scalp of young babies. It is a very common, harmless condition that does not usually itch or cause any discomfort to the baby.


It usually begins in babies during their first three months and tends to last a few weeks or months. It usually clears up by the time the child is two years old, although in rare cases children can have cradle cap for a lot longer.  Cradle cap requires no specific treatment, although gently washing the baby’s hair and scalp may prevent a build-up of the scale


Symptoms of cradle cap include


  • greasy yellow patches on the scalp,
  • the affected skin area appearing red,
  • scales and flakes on the scalp, and
  • yellow crusts on the scalp.


It is important not to scratch or pick at the cradle cap, in case an infection develops.


Treating cradle cap


Cradle cap requires no specific treatment, and will eventually clear up on its own. However, gently washing the baby’s hair and scalp may prevent a build-up of the scale.  To help to loosen the crust, massage a small amount of baby oil or petroleum jelly into the scalp at night. This will help to soften the patchy scales. In the morning, using a soft baby brush or cloth, gently remove any loose particles, and then wash the hair with a baby shampoo.


If the above method does not work, use a mild shampoo. Be careful to avoid the baby’s eyes as these shampoos are stronger than baby shampoo.


If the cradle cap becomes inflamed or infected, a course of antibiotics or an antifungal cream or shampoo, such as Nizoral Cream can be used. A mild steroid cream such as hydrocortisone may be recommended for an inflamed rash.  Ask your Burkes pharmacist for advice on how to use these over the counter products.


If the cradle cap does not improve with treatment, or the baby has seborrhoea dermatitis on the face or body, speak to your GP for advice.