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When to Worry: Cradle Cap

Your baby's itchy scalp could be cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis. Learn some quick and easy ways to treat this condition.

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If your baby has scaly, yellowish patches on his head that look like dandruff, it's most likely cradle cap. Cradle cap or infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis is extremely common. It usually appears on the scalp, but may also show up on your baby's face, eyebrows, behind the ears, or on the back or upper chest. The exact cause is unknown, but it's believed to be caused by overactive oil glands stimulated by mom's leftover hormones. Luckily, cradle cap doesn't seem to bother most babies, and it usually goes away on its own. You can speed up that process with these easy steps: rubbing some oil. Before bath time, massage some baby oil or olive oil on to your little one's head to loosen the dry patches. Before shampooing, allow it to sit for a bit, so it can soak up the oil. Brush away the flakes. Use a soft-brush comb or dry wash cloth to wipe away the scales. And then, shampoo as usual. Use the brush again after she's dry to remove the scales that didn't come out before the bath. Consult a doctor. If her cradle cap seems to be getting worse or your baby looks uncomfortable from it, talk to your pediatrician. He might prescribe a special shampoo or ointment to get rid of it. And in case you're wondering, having cradle cap won't set your little one up for a lifetime of dandruff. It almost always clears up by the first birthday.