Cradle cap or scaly skin patches on a baby’s scalp are common conditions that affect infants. The patches of yellow scaly skin can look like flaky dandruff and may also form a crusty layer. The condition can clear up naturally but can also be gently treated.
Baby Scalp Dryness
The oil-producing glands on a baby’s head can sometimes be over-stimulated during birth and this causes an imbalance. Scalp dryness can also be the result of a fungal or yeast infection. Infant cradle cap, or scaly scalp, is not caused by poor hygiene or allergic reaction and is generally accepted as a natural condition that affects young infants and clears up on its own. Severe cases of scaly scalp, or seborrheic dermatitis, should be treated by a GP or pediatrician.
Cradle cap affects the scalp but may spread to the eyelids, ears and nose where it appears as flaky red patches. If this happens it is important to seek medical advice before treating. Cradle cap most commonly appears between two weeks and three months of a baby’s birth and will usually have cleared completely by about 7 months of age.
How to Spot Symptoms
Scalp conditions vary in severity and type. Cradle cap is the most common condition that affects babies and young infants and this usually manifests as a harmless, painless and unattractive yellow crust that covers the scalp or collects in patches.
Dry scalp conditions may appear dry and flaky and crusty or as oily or greasy patches of skin. Either way, most scalp conditions in young children can become itchy and irritating if not treated promptly. In some cases, however, scaly scalp problems can be a result of other skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis and should be checked by a GP or health practitioner.
Cradle Cap Treatment
Flaky dry skin on a baby’s scalp can be treated by gentle, frequent washing with a mild chemical and fragrance-free shampoo. Using a soft baby hairbrush the accumulated patches of yellow scaly skin can be gentle brushed off. The scaly skin can also be removed by gentle rubbing with a towel or soft cloth. This action should be continued over the course of a few days so that the buildup of scaly patches is loosened.
To moisturise the dry skin it is important to massage the scalp using baby oil or other mineral oil. As the dry skin scales begin to loosen gentle brushing with a soft brush will encourage the flaky crusts to break up further. To avoid irritation of the scalp skin brushing must be performed gently. Finish the treatment by washing off the oil and residual skin crusts and gently patting the scalp dry.
Flaky scalp conditions, experienced by toddlers, should be treated in the same way as treatment for babies and infants. It is important to wash the child’s hair with gentle shampoo. As you lather the hair pay careful attention to the scalp and gently rub and loosen flakes of scaly skin. A soft toothbrush can also be used to loosen the scaly patches. Rinse hair with clean, warm water and repeat the procedure.
Apply conditioner to your hands and work this through the child’s hair, massaging the scalp gently to remove any residual dry skin flakes. Rinse hair again and towel dry.