Cradle cap, also known seborrhea capitis, or dandruff, is a common skin condition that affects oily parts of the body, most commonly, the scalp. However, it can also involve the eyebrows, face, ears, or eyelids. Seborrhea typically consists of white to yellow flakes, scaly patches, and sometimes, red or inflamed skin.
It is caused by a buildup of oil, grease, and dirt over time on the surface of the skin. There is also some suggestion that a fungus, called Malassezia furfur, that resides in the oil secretions of your skin, can contribute to seborrhea.
Those sneaky little flakes that cause cradle cap tricks us into washing less and applying more products to the hair to try to combat what seems like dryness. But it’s exactly the opposite! Those flakes are actually due to buildup of oils and grease in the scalp. And the trick to getting rid of it all is WASH! WASH! WASH!
Infant hair should be washed at least twice a week, or more if possible. You can use a soft brush to help loosen the flakes and scale while you wash your baby’s hair. You may have heard advice to use different types of oils to help loosen the flakes. This is okay as long as you wash the hair after this loosening process and don’t leave the oil sitting in the hair to create more buildup. Any oil will do (baby oil, coconut oil, olive oil, etc), since you don’t leave it in the hair anyways.
For more severe cases of cradle cap, using a pea-sized amount of a selenium sulfide-containing shampoo, such as Selsun Blue or Head & Shoulders, twice a week can work wonders. However, keep in mind that most of these shampoos are not tear-free, so be careful not to get in your baby’s eyes.