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How do I Choose the Best Cradle Cap Treatment?

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  • Written By: Amanda R. Bell
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 23 November 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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Choosing the best cradle cap treatment depends on whether or not the child is experiencing discomfort. Once this is determined, you can then rely on trial and error for treating this common childhood condition. If none of the cradle cap treatment options — such as using olive oil or regular washing — make a difference, talk to your pediatrician for other alternatives.

Cradle cap, which is characterized by patchy skin and sometimes weeping scales on the head and eyebrows, often appears when a baby is three months old and clears up on its own by the time the child is a year old. In many cases, cradle cap is simply unsightly and can be left untreated. In some instances, the skin condition can be irritating to the child. If this seems to be the case, there are some simple cradle cap treatment options available.

The most popular remedy is rubbing baby oil or extra virgin olive oil on the affected area and letting it sit for 10 to 15 minutes. Parents can then gently brush the head with a very soft hair brush or washcloth to remove the scales. It is important to avoid scrubbing the child's head harshly or pick at the scales because this can lead to increased irritation. After brushing away loose particles, washing with a mild shampoo meant for infants can be helpful.

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While new parents are often advised not to bathe their newborn daily, a common cradle cap treatment is to wash the child's hair and face every day. This can be done without cleaning the rest of the baby's body; excessively washing an infant can dry out the skin, especially in the winter months. Washing the affected area every day can be soothing to the infant if the cradle cap is itchy, and it can help to loosen up scaly skin.

If applying oil and washing regularly don’t seem to help your child's discomfort, you can try applying a small amount of cortisone cream to only the affected area. This can help to relieve any itching your baby may be experiencing and reduce any inflammation. If none of these remedies work, it is time to talk to your child's pediatrician.

A common cradle cap treatment recommended by doctors is specialized shampoo, known as seborrhea shampoo. Washing the affected area with this soap can help to restore the balance of oil in the child's scalp, thereby reducing the cradle cap. For children over six months old, dandruff shampoo may also be helpful; for younger children, however, the chemicals in adult shampoos are often too harsh. Before using any of these treatments, however, it's important to get the okay from your child's doctor.

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