Cradle cap is a common skin condition that affects babies and young children. It is characterised by scaly, flaky patches on the scalp, which may be accompanied by redness and itching. Cradle cap is not contagious and is not harmful to the child, but it can be unsettling for new parents to see and might cause some discomfort.
Cradle cap is caused by an overproduction of oil in the skin, which leads to the buildup of dead skin cells on the scalp. This can be triggered by hormonal changes that occur after birth, as well as by the presence of yeast or other fungi on the skin.
There are several natural remedies that may be effective in treating cradle cap in babies and young children.
Gentle cleansing as a natural remedy for cradle cap
One of the most important steps in treating cradle cap is to keep the scalp clean and free of excess oil and dead skin cells. Because cradle cap is caused by the build up of excess oils it's a good idea to use gentle cleansing to keep the scalp clean regularly.
To do this, you can use a gentle baby shampoo or soap and water to gently cleanse the scalp. Avoid using harsh or abrasive products, as these can irritate the skin and make the condition worse.
Using a gentle massaging brush like our silicone Pebbl scrub can be a an effective way to clean hygienically at bathtime.
Oil treatment as a natural remedy for cradle cap
Massaging a small amount of coconut oil, into the scalp can help loosen and remove the flakes associated with cradle cap.
Not all oil’s are created equally when it comes to dealing with cradle cap though. Olive oil is something often touted for adult hair. But recent studies show that olive oil should NOT be used on baby’s skin.
As this study found, even in adults, weekly treatments of olive oil on skin led to mild erythema (rashes). The study found that regular use of olive oil damaged the integrity of the skin. As we shared here, a baby’s skin is even more fragile than adult’s skin and is far more permeable to the ingredients it comes into contact with. So using a safer oil like coconut oil is preferable as a treatment for cradle cap.
Use a small amount of oil and gently massage it into the scalp, avoiding pulling or scratching at the skin. After massaging the oil into the scalp, you can leave it on for a few hours or overnight, and then wash it out with a gentle shampoo.
Exfoliation as a natural remedy for cradle cap
Gently exfoliating the scalp can help remove dead skin cells and promote healthy skin growth. To do this, you can mix a small amount of baking soda or oatmeal with water to create a paste, and then gently massage the paste into the scalp. Rinse the paste off with water, and then follow up with a gentle shampoo.
You can also use a gently exfoliating brush like the Pebbl silicone brush when shampooing your baby's hair. Alternatively try more regular daily hair brushing with a soft bristle hair brush.
Anti-fungal treatment as a natural remedy for cradle cap
If the cradle cap is caused by a fungal infection, an anti-fungal treatment may be necessary to clear up the condition.
Tea tree oil and garlic are both natural anti-fungal agents that may be effective in treating cradle cap. You can mix a few drops of tea tree oil with a carrier oil, such as coconut oil, and then massage the mixture into the scalp. Alternatively, you can crush a clove of garlic and mix it with a small amount of coconut oil, and then apply the mixture to the scalp. Dilute the tea tree oil or garlic with the oil to ensure it is milder on your baby's scalp and doesn't cause irritation.
In most cases, cradle cap will clear up on its own within a few months, as the child's skin becomes more mature and the hormonal changes that trigger the condition resolve. However, if the condition persists or if it is causing significant discomfort, it is important to speak with a healthcare provider for further evaluation and treatment.