Cradle cap may not need medical treatment, as it often goes away if you use the home care tips below. If these home care tips don't work, talk with your baby's doctor about products that might help, such as a low-potency hydrocortisone cream or a shampoo with 2% antifungal ketoconazole medicine. Be sure the shampoo doesn't get in your baby's eyes, as it may hurt.

If you want to try the type of cortisone or antifungal creams you can buy at the store without a prescription, talk with your baby's doctor or other health care professional first. Some of these products can be too strong for a baby's skin. Dandruff shampoos that contain salicylic acid aren't recommended for use in babies either because that ingredient can be absorbed through the skin.

Lifestyle and home remedies

The following home care tips may help you control the symptoms of cradle cap:

  • Gently rub your baby's scalp with your fingers or a washcloth to loosen the scales. Don't scratch.
  • Wash your baby's hair once a day with baby shampoo. Loosen the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush or fine-toothed comb before rinsing off the shampoo.
  • If the scales don't loosen easily, rub petroleum jelly or a few drops of mineral oil onto your baby's scalp. Let it soak into the scales for a few minutes, or hours if needed. Then brush and shampoo the hair as usual. Be sure to rinse well. If you leave in the oil, the cradle cap may get worse.
  • When the scales are gone, wash your baby's hair two or three times a week with a mild shampoo to prevent scale buildup.

Preparing for your appointment

What you can do

If your baby's cradle cap doesn't improve with home care measures or starts to spread, make an appointment for medical care. Your baby's doctor or other health care professional will want to know:

  • How long your baby has had cradle cap.
  • What you've done to treat it.
  • How often you shampoo your baby's hair.
  • What products you've tried.