From the day you were born, the skin all over your body has been shed and replaced.
The body carries out this shedding and replacement with great efficiency, meaning new skin comes in just as the old skin is leaving, and the process is more or less invisible.
But things aren’t always so efficient for babies.
Many babies are born with a temporary condition known as “cradle cap” that results in new skin being generated on the scalp before the old skin has left.
This leads to the old scaly skin forming a “cap” on the baby’s head, as seen below.
What causes cradle cap, and how can it be distinguished from eczema?
Doctors are not entirely certain as to the underlying cause of cradle cap. One theory suggests that it’s caused by hormones that pass from mother to baby before birth that result in too much oil in the follicles.
Another theory is that a type of yeast grows in the baby’s hair oil and causes a delayed shedding of skin.
Doctors do know that cradle cap is not contagious, and is not caused by poor hygiene.
Cradle cap is often confused with baby eczema. In reality, there are large differences between the two. For one, cradle cap is not itchy or painful. Further, while eczema affects between 10% to 15% of babies, cradle cap is far more common and generally clears up on its own within 8 months.
Once you’ve spoken with your baby’s doctor to confirm the true nature of the spots on his or her head, try these natural remedies to help it clear up.
#1 – Olive Oil
Olive oil can work to soften the thick skin crusts on your baby’s head. Rub the oil in with your fingers and let it soak for 15-30 minutes. Then, take a soft toothbrush and gently rub it on your baby’s head to remove the crusts.
Do not scrub – just gently brush. Wash the oil from your baby’s skin once you’ve finished brushing, as leaving excess oil for too long can lead to rashes.
You can also use coconut oil.
#2 – Shea Butter
Shea butter is a great moisturizer that is commonly used to treat cradle cap. Simply massage it into your baby’s scalp and leave it overnight.
The dead skin may fall off on its own, or you may need to gently brush it. Continue massaging your baby’s scalp with shea butter even after the cradle cap has cleared up. You don’t have to worry about it clogging up the pores or becoming greasy.
#3 – Baking Soda Paste
Baking soda can be turned into a gentle cream to treat your baby’s cradle cap. Simply mix 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda with water or coconut oil.
Stir this thoroughly. It will turn into a paste that you can apply to the affected areas of your baby’s scalp. Let it sit for about 20 minutes, and use a soft brush to rub off flakes. Rinse the paste off upon completion.
#4 – Apple Cider Vinegar
Mix apple cider vinegar with water at a ratio of two parts water for each part ACV. Once mixed, massage the mixture into your baby’s scalp before bath time.
Be careful not to get it into his or her eyes as it will sting. Leave it on for 10 minutes and then bathe your baby as you normally would.