The cradle cap

The cradle cap
Fonte: lolostock / Alamy / IPA

Soft, smooth, perfect: this is how we expect the skin of the newborn and instead it is not always the case. There may be small pimples or small white bubbles, redness, yellowish scales on the head or behind the ears. In this case it is the milk crust o seborrheic dermatitis

Index of this article:

  • what is cradle cap
  • the false myths
  • how to behave

In short: what is cradle cap

What is

The correct scientific name is actually seborrheic dermatitis, a inflammatory condition of the skin caused by an increased production of sebum (i.e. fat) by the sebaceous glands.

How it manifests itself

It is a form of dermatitis characterized by the appearance of yellowish scales typically located on the scalp, forehead, browbones and regions behind the ears. In the more extensive forms there may also be an erythema that affects the face, neck, trunk and groin area. Generally the child does not suffer from itching or other discomfort. 

Depends on what

The cradle cap is due to the activity of the sebaceous glands that work on stimulation of the maternal hormones, transmitted to the baby during gestation.

Read also: Irritative dermatitis: what are they, when do they occur, how to cure them?

Milk crust, the false myths

Cradle cap and breastfeeding

There is a belief that seborrheic dermatitis represents a scalp reaction to an excess of ingested milk or excessively fatty breast milk. In reality, cradle cap has nothing to do with breastfeeding - it's called that because it is typical of infants, since it usually appears around 2/3 months of life, and then disappears around the sixth.

Milk crust and mother's nutrition

Another misconception concerns the alleged link between cradle cap and mother's nutrition if she is breastfeeding her baby. Again, nothing that mom eats or doesn't eat can influence the appearance of cradle cap through milk. 

Cradle cap and other dermatitis

Cradle cap is very common and its manifestation is not a clue that the baby will suffer from other forms of dermatitis once he gets older. It is true, however, that when the cradle cap is maintained even beyond one and a half years of life, there is a greater risk of psoriasis or atopic dermatitis. 

How to behave

Things to do

  • In the milder forms you can also do nothing, or just apply an oil (for example sweet almond) or a emollient cream that helps to remove the scales without traumatizing them;
  • if necessary, the removal of already detached scales can be facilitated with a very soft brush;
  • for hair washing, better to prefer oil-based detergents or enriched with emollient substances;
  • in the most serious forms it is advisable to consult the specialist doctor, who could advise cortisone-based creams to be used locally.

Things not to do

  • la mechanical removal of scales, with combs or other, which can aggravate the situation;
  • wash your hair too often and with aggressive detergents;
  • leave the baby with too long nails, which could accidentally remove the scales in a traumatic way, favoring the formation of other scabs. 

To know more:

  • the cradle cap of the newborn, causes and natural remedies;
  • seborrheic dermatitis in children, photos to recognize it;
  • the first month of the newborn;
  • the third month of the newborn.

Sources for this article: material from the medical information site WebMd, information material from the American Mayo Clinic.

  • child's agenda
  • newborn 0-3 months
  • milk crust
  • care
  • skin
  • dermatitis
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