Cradle cap usually doesn't require medical treatment. It clears up on its own within a few weeks to months. In the meantime, wash your baby's hair once a day with mild baby shampoo and brush the scalp lightly with a soft brush to loosen the scales.
If frequent shampooing doesn't help, consult your baby's doctor. He or she may recommend a stronger shampoo — such as an adult dandruff shampoo containing tar, 2 percent of the antifungal medication ketoconazole or 1 percent selenium sulfide — to help dissolve the scales. Be sure these shampoos don't get in your baby's eyes, as they may cause irritation. Hydrocortisone cream is sometimes helpful to reduce redness and inflammation.
Don't use over-the-counter cortisone or antifungal creams without talking to your baby's doctor, because some of these products can be toxic when absorbed through a baby's skin. Dandruff shampoos that contain salicylic acid aren't recommended for use in babies either, because they can be absorbed through the skin.
Nov. 13, 2012
- Sasseville D. Cradle cap and seborrheic dermatitis in infants. http://www.uptodate.com/index. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- South-Paul JE, et al.. Current Diagnosis & Treatment in Family Medicine. 3rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2011. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=52. Accessed Sept. 21, 2012.
- Sheffield RC, et al. Clinical inquiries. What's the best treatment for cradle cap? Journal of Family Practice. 2007;56:232.
- O'Connor N, et al. Newborn skin: Part I. Common rashes. American Family Physician 2008;77:4.