Sonal Mehra has asked for advice on how to deal with her baby’s severe dandruff. The baby’s hairs are badly tangled and his scalp is dry and flaky.
It’s not likely, although it is possible. Dandruff is very uncommon in young children. Most often dandruff shows up at puberty, spikes in the teen years, and declines again in adulthood. If your baby’s scalp has flaky, dry skin that looks like dandruff, or thick, oily, yellowish or brown scaling or crusting patches, it’s probably cradle cap. Scaly, rough patches on your child’s head or white flakes in her hair are likely severe dandruff or cradle cap, also known as seborrheic dermatitis. Although it’s harmless and typically doesn’t cause discomfort to the child, if it bothers you, it is generally easy to treat to reduce or get rid of the rough scales.
Cradle cap isn’t cute, but it’s harmless. It shows up most often in the first few months of life and usually clears up on its own in about six to 12 months – although some children have it for longer. You might notice the same condition around your baby’s ears or eyebrows, on his eyelids, or even in his armpits and other creases
WHAT CAUSES CRADLE CAP OR SEVERE DANDRUFF IN BABIES?
The cause is unknown. But we do know that cradle cap is not caused by poor hygiene or allergies Some experts believe that the hormones a baby receives from his mother at the end of pregnancy. overstimulate the baby’s oil-producing (seborrheic) glands, resulting in cradle cap. Irritation from a yeast that grows in the sebum (the substance produced by the glands) is also thought to be a possible culprit. But there’s no consensus on the cause. Cradle cap isn’t contagious. And it probably doesn’t bother your baby at all, although if it gets severe it might itch.
How should I treat my baby’s flaky scalp?
Using Home Remedies
1. Remove the scales with your fingers
The baby’s scalp won’t be harmed if you use your hands to take off the “cap.” It’s the simplest, and one of the most effective, ways to get rid of the scales and dry patches that occur when a baby has cradle cap.
- Rub your fingers over the scaly patches, then gently peel and scrape away the scaly dead skin and discard it.
- If you don’t want to use your fingers to pick off the scales, put on a pair of thin latex gloves (as long as your baby isn’t allergic to latex). You could also cover your hands with plastic wrap to prevent directly touching the scales. Keep in mind that cradle cap is not contagious, and picking off the scales will make your baby more comfortable.
- Don’t use tweezers or another sharp tool to remove the scales, since you may accidentally poke the baby’s head and cause an injury.
2. Wash the baby’s head every day
Use warm water to bath the baby’s head, and gently massage his or her scalp with your fingers. The water will help loosen the cradle cap scales, when you can then peel or scrape away.
- Using a mild baby shampoo can help loosen the scales, so consider adding one to your washing routine. However, you may find that shampoo dries the baby’s scalp out further.
- Use a soft-bristled brush to help loosen the scales while the baby’s head is still wet.
3. Use oil and jelly
Sometimes cradle cap scales need a little outside help before you can peel them off. Spread baby oil or petroleum jelly on the dry patches, then wait 15 minutes to let the scales soften before removing them.
- Olive oil and vegetable oil also work well for removing the scales.
- Use shampoo and warm water to wash away the oil when you’re finished. Leaving traces of oil can actually make the problem worse by causing more scales to form.
Implementing Verified Medical Solutions
1. Use a medicated dandruff shampoo
When cradle cap keeps coming back a few days after you scrape it away, switching to a medicated shampoo a few times a week might be an effective treatment. Dandruff shampoos contain tar, which reduces flakiness and helps prevent skin from drying out.
- Shampoos containing the antifungal medication ketoconazole or 1 percent selenium sulfide may also be used to treat cradle cap.
- Dandruff shampoos that contain salicylic acid aren’t recommended for babies, since this ingredient may be harmful to babies and it can be easily absorbed through their skin.
- Talk to your doctor before using a medicated shampoo on your baby’s scalp. He or she will recommend a shampoo brand or provide you with a prescription for the shampoo that is right for your baby’s needs.
2. Consider using hydrocortisone cream
If your baby’s scalp is inflamed, red or itchy, hydrocortisone cream, which is also used to treat rashes and bug bites, might help relieve the symptoms. Check with your doctor before using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream.
Taking Preventative Measures
1. Humidify your home
Infants with cradle cap often have other symptoms related to dry, easily-irritated skin. Use a humidifier in your baby’s room to keep the air moist and humid so his or her skin doesn’t get too dry.
2. Moisturize the baby’s scalp after bathing
Applying a moisturizer while the scalp is still slightly damp and warm after bathing can help trap moisture in the skin, preventing it from becoming dry and scaly. Use a lotion or ointment formulated for babies’ sensitive skin.
3. Consider the baby’s diet
Cradle cap is in some cases caused by an allergy to baby formula. If your baby has red patches on his or her face and experiences diarrhea and other allergy symptoms in addition to cradle cap, talk to your doctor about switching to a formula that is healthier for your baby.
With Special Thanks to all our expert Moms
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