Q&A: How can I get rid of cradle cap?
My daughter has severe cradle cap. The doctor said that it will go away soon, but it looks awful. Is it uncomfortable or irritating to her? Is there anything I can do to make it go away immediately?
I certainly sympathize with your frustration, and only wish there was something that I could tell you that would make cradle cap go away immediately. But unfortunately, cradle cap—which is often likened to baby dandruff (and sometimes referred to as cradle “crap” by frustrated parents)—seems to be a fact of life for babies. Medically speaking, the greasy scales that characterize cradle cap are described as seborrheic dermatitis, a condition which does usually go away on its own in a matter of weeks to months. While it can be quite bothersome for parents, it fortunately does not tend to cause babies any irritation or discomfort.
While I often have told parents they need not do anything but just wait for cradle cap to go away, as a parent I fully understand how disturbing it can be when one’s otherwise beautiful baby “looks awful”—whether it’s due to significant cradle cap, baby acne, or any other relatively harmless but quite noticeable skin “disturbances” of infancy. Even though it’s not technically necessary to do anything for most cases of cradle cap, many parents find some degree of improvement (and therefore relief) by simply using baby shampoo and/or baby oil or petroleum jelly to soften and loosen up the unsightly scales, followed by the use of a soft-bristled brush to help get rid of some of them.
In the event that your baby’s cradle cap worsens or does not improve, or should you ever have additional concerns, it is always worth following up with your baby’s doctor. Depending on the severity of seborrheic dermatitis, additional treatment may be warranted and/or further evaluation recommended to rule out some rare but potentially more serious causes.