Cradle cap usually develops on a baby’s scalp when they are between one and three months old.  It got its name because it occurs in young babies of cradle age, and looks like a thick, waxy, yellowish scaly layer that covers the skin of the scalp.

Similar to dandruff, which is sort of an adult version of cradle cap, this condition is caused by seborrheic dermatitis.  There are various theories about cradle cap.  Some doctors believe it comes from overactive oil glands due to excess hormones, which the baby gets from its mother during pregnancy and nursing. Others believe that cradle cap may be the result of an overgrowth of yeast, named malassezia, which feeds off sebum that comes out of the oil glands.  Both theories seem to make sense. 

Cradle cap is not itchy and should not be confused with eczema, which is uncomfortable and itchy. As a matter of fact, cradle cap is more bothersome to moms and grandmas than to baby.   

My cute infant grandson seems to have a bad case of cradle cap, and was my inspiration for this article.  His wonderful pediatrician says it’s not dangerous and not a sign that anyone is doing anything wrong. It’s basically more of a cosmetic nuisance than a health issue.  For some babies, the condition may last for a year or longer, but such cases are not common. This seems to be a real embarrassment for an infant who is a descendent of a dermatologist on one side of the family, and a makeup artist and zealous skincare expert on the other side. I am therefore determined to get rid of his cradle cap in a natural and harmless way.  

It’s not difficult or expensive to treat and it’s always refreshing to restore baby’s scalp to a normal condition and appearance.  I just experimented for the first time with the following treatment, which seems to be yielding results without irritating baby’s sensitive scalp.  This method should also work for anyone with seborrheic dermatitis.

Using organic coconut oil on a baby’s scalp is an old and effective way to combat cradle cap.  Begin by rubbing some coconut oil onto the scaly patches of skin on baby’s head and surrounding areas.  Then gently massage the oil into the area of the cradle cap, which will loosen the flakes and nourish the scalp underneath.  Do not substitute olive oil for coconut oil, because it may detract from the skin’s natural barrier and increase the growth of yeast.  Leave it on for at least 15 to 20 minutes in order to soak in before bathing baby as usual.  Next, use a mild baby cleanser and shampoo, which is gentle on the skin. This will remove the coconut oil. Repeat this treatment every few days until it disappears.  At the end of the day, don’t despair, because by the time your baby begins dating, his or her cradle cap will surely be history.

Risselle Naimark is a Professional Freelance Makeup Artist and Skincare Consultant. She carries an extensive line of personalized skincare, cosmetics, and anti-aging products. Risselle is also available for weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, makeup lessons, and all of your beauty needs. She can be reached at 718 263-5517.