Cradle Cap – What Is That Sticky Yellow Stuff?

Appearance & Well Being

Cradle Cap – What Is That Sticky Yellow Stuff?

Cradle cap is essentially baby dandruff. Usually it looks yellow, greasy or scaly, and presents in patches over the scalp, eyebrows, eyelashes or any other area of the body.  It may appear as dry patches on the scalp. When it is in areas other than the head we call it seborrheic dermatitis. When these patches peel or flake off they often take hair with them.

Cradle cap is most common in kids under 8 months of age. It usually appears in the first 3 months. Most babies are unbothered by it, though a select few experience itchiness.


What causes cradle cap?

Most people think cradle cap is a result of hormone fluctuations after birth. These lead to secretions from the oil glands, which decrease over time, which is why it usually clears up on its own. Some people think it may also be a fungal infection variant.

How to treat cradle cap on the scalp

I find it simplest to saturate the scalp in oily products like olive oil for about an hour before the bath. Then in the bath comb with a fine toothed comb. Usually the scale will come off easily and not bother the child. Some recommend using a dandruff shampoo, though I prefer the non-chemical approach first. If this isn’t successful a low dose topical steroid ointment can help.

Cradle cap on the face

This is easily treated with oil and a facecloth. Apply oil for thirty minutes, then take a facecloth and gently rub the scale – the flakes will come right off.

Try not to pick at the scale. Though this may look effective, you may inadvertently introduce an infection.

Rest assured, most cases of cradle cap will clear up on their own with no intervention at all. But if it looks red, swollen, has a discharge, or if your baby develops a fever, please see your physician.

Here’s a FUN ARTICLE .. Baby POO, what’s normal & what to look for.

The general information provided on the Website is for informational purposes and is not medical advice.

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If you have a medical emergency, call a physician or qualified healthcare provider, or CALL 911 immediately. Under no circumstances should you attempt self-treatment based on anything you have seen or read on this Website. Always seek the advice of your physician or other licensed and qualified health provider in your jurisdiction concerning any questions you may have regarding any information obtained from this Website and any medical condition you believe may be relevant to you or to someone else. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Website.

Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

About Dina M. Kulik, MD, FRCPC, PEM

Dina is a wife, mother of 4, and adrenaline junky. She loves to share children’s health information from her professional and personal experience. More About Dr Dina.

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