What are these scaly patches on your baby’s scalp – cradle cap

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It is understandable for a caregiver to feel worried when you notice any diversification from normal on your baby’s body. Cradle cap can often be one of these reasons. Every mother wants a baby to grow up with a shiny and clean skin, unfortunately some babies have some greasy patches on their scalp in the first few months of life.

What is cradle cap?

These are greasy yellowish scaly patches found on the scalp of babies. It is usually over the scalp that covers the anterior fontanelle where caregivers do apply baby oil. It is harmless compared to the way it may sometimes appear. It has been said to be due to excess oil production from the skin oil gland. Although this can go away without treatment, some measures can be put in place if it fails to go away on its own.

What causes cradle cap?

Cradle cap is not contagious, neither does it indicate poor hygiene nor is it due to allergy. The exact cause is not known. Research shows that it is due to excessive production of oil by the oil glands in the skin. It is also believed that this excessive oil production is stimulated by the excess hormones the mother passed to the baby while in the womb.

Is cradle cap harmful to your baby?

Cradle cap may appear like something to be worried about but you need to know that it is harmless. It usually appear in healthy babies and it does not affect their development or growth.

Measures needed to make cradle cap go away

Apply baby oil or mineral oil to soften these patches, you will need a soft brush to brush it out once it softens. You need to do this gently. You can also wash the baby’s scalp with a baby shampoo after softening with baby oil. Some hair strands might go away along with these patches, you do not need to worry as this will grow back after a while.

How can you prevent cradle cap from recurring?

Frequent washing of your baby’s scalp with a baby shampoo can help to prevent these greasy patches from recurring. This can be done every few days, you need to be as gentle as possible while washing you baby’s scalp.

When you should see a doctor

In some cases, these scaly patches may not go away as expected. At this point there may be a need to see your physician for advice and further treatment. Also you should see your physician if:

  • The affected area becomes red.
  • The affected area start to ooze out fluid.


Greasy yellowish patches on your baby’s scalp are usually harmless. This is not due to the caregiver’s hygiene, allergy or an infection, rather an overproduction of oil by your baby’s skin oil glands.

Use of a soft brush and application of baby or mineral oil will make this go away on time.

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Dr Kay
About Dr Kay 58 Articles
As a physician, I love to give answers to several questions bothering people, educating them on how to be healthy, breaking down what their present condition is all about and counselling them on how to manage their condition.

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