Cradle cap is a term used to describe the yellowish scales that form on a newborn baby's head. These scales develop along the forehead and into the hair. Typically, cradle cap happens sometime within the first three months of a baby's life. The primary cause of it is that some of the mother's hormones are passed to the baby during birth which cause the baby's oil glands to be overactive. Old skin cells, instead of flaking and falling off like they should, layer on top of one another forming what has come to be known as cradle cap.
There are varying methods to treat cradle cap. One of the most popular treatments is applying baby oil, baby lotions, petroleum jelly, or olive oil to the affected area. Letting the oil or lotion stay on overnight and brushing the flakes off in the morning, can help alleviate the problem.
In cases of extreme cradle cap, some doctors may recommend using a small amount of medicated shampoo. This method should not be used without a doctor's approval since it is still unclear how much of the chemicals can be absorbed by baby's skin. The shampoo also stings and irritates baby's fragile eyes.
There is one common homeopathic remedy for cradle cap. This involves mixing a small amount of water in baking soda to create a thin paste. Applying this mixture to the baby's head overnight and brushing it off in the morning is also said to help alleviate cradle cap symptoms.
There has been some debate over the effectiveness of oils and lotions in remedying overactive oil glands. Many medical professionals discourage the use of such products, claiming that it is counter productive and will actually cause cradle cap to remain for a longer period of time. These professionals recommend light brushing of the area, two to three times a day, and daily washing with a mild, baby shampoo.
Cradle cap does not itch or cause the baby any discomfort at all. The look of it though, can cause some parents to want to pick at the scales. This should be avoided as the bacteria from your fingernails can risk infection for your baby.