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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Dealing with Cradle Cap Frugally and Naturally

 photo 33d578db-280c-4b86-af5f-fc19d9169996_zpsd94ac63c.jpg
Anneliese getting the cradle cap treatment
When I was a newlywed, I worked babysitting kids. There was this one baby, Sarah, with really thick cradle cap on her head. It was the first time I ever really noticed cradle cap, and I found it quite revolting, to be honest. I wondered why her mother didn't "just do something about it", why she just left it there... I felt the cradle cap really made this baby unattractive and I had a hard time bonding with Sarah because of it.

Well, I guess I got payback for my negative thoughts, because all three of my kids had cradle cap. And continued having it even when they were older, even though cradle cap usually goes away once they pass the infant stage.

So, what exactly is cradle cap?

Well, instead of getting into the scientific makeup of it, I'll just describe what it looks like. Imagine dead skin cells mixed with ear wax. Imagine that caked onto a baby's head, within the hair line, either in little patches or in large swatches.
Yea, quite nauseating, which is why I didn't include a pic, but if you insist on seeing one, here's a link to a pic.


I've read that there is often a link between celiac and other food sensitivities and cradle cap, especially in older kids. That's interesting, because Ike, my kid with the most food sensitivities, had cradle cap until he was nearly three. Once we cut out gluten (and dairy) from his diet, the cradle cap went away.

Anneliese also has cradle cap, and being off gluten hasn't done it for her. Her hair fortunately is long enough to cover it most of the time, but when I make pigtails for her or any other hair style, the cradle cap shows through... Ick.

I read that magnesium deficiencies can cause cradle cap, and I recently bought magnesium oil that I will start using to hopefully help with that.

But in the meantime, how do you get rid of the gross cradle cap?

Simple.

Just take some oil, ideally a solid oil like coconut oil or palm oil, and massage it into the scalp and hair with your fingers, and possibly even with your nails. Rub it. Leave it in for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, using a fine comb, comb through your kid's hair, making sure that the comb rubs the head as you're doing so. Move the comb back and forth repeatedly, gentle, over the same spot if you see the cradle cap isn't coming off the first time. Do this to loosen all the cradle cap.

Then give a bath and wash off the hair with shampoo and warm water. Comb out the hair once more to remove any loosened cradle cap stuck into the hair.

Enjoy your baby's clean scalp! It may be a little reddish when you first remove the cradle cap, but it shouldn't hurt.

If the cradle cap comes back, it won't be for a long while, at least a good few months or more.

Do your kids get cradle cap? Until what age usually? How do you deal with it? Are you as grossed out by cradle cap as I am?

25 comments:

  1. I've always used olive oil on cradle cap. We usually just do it in the evening right before bath time. The olive oil seems to rinse away easily, and it always seemed to help condition the hair too!

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    1. The reason I didn't use olive oil is because its drippy. It doesn't make a big mess?

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    2. Nope, unless you're pouring cupfuls on their head; as long as you're working it in bit by bit, it's fine.

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  2. My little girl had cradle cap. BAD. It was so gross. I didn't know what to do, and I had heard that anti-dandruff shampoo helped. I tried olive oil first because I was told by my Midwife that it worked for her. It worked, for a little while. It kept coming back and thicker each time. So I caved and bought some Head&Shoulders. It slowly started going away, and has been gone ever since. Every so often I will still use the shampoo to make sure it doesn't come back, but the closer she gets to 1 the less I worry. But I'm happy that I found something that works for us that isn't too expensive. Just in case the next baby has it too.

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    1. I wonder what the connection is between dandruff and cradle cap....

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  3. That's interesting my daughter had really bad craddle cap, and I never accociated it with her Celiac Desease, but it went away shortly after we went gluten free and hasn't come back since.

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  4. Just an FYI ... I was told by our pediatrician that tear-free baby shampoos are the cause of cradle cap. So if you just quit using that it should go away.

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    1. That can't be the whole story, because I NEVER used baby shampoo on my baby, but he had occasional cradle cap until about 2 years old.

      We did the olive oil and combing treatment. I put about a Tbsp. of oil in a small bowl and dipped my fingers into it and rubbed sections of scalp. No dripping!

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    2. We have never used a tear-free shampoo on my daughter and she had cradle cap. I have started using baking soda dissolved in a bit of water (no-poo method) and this has helped some.

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  5. our doctor told us to use Selsen Blue dandruff shampoo, that helped when nothing else did, also it's good to wash/shampoo regularly before oil & crust start building up, we were just rinsing before, that was not enough

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  6. Awww! I hope Anneliese is better soon!

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  7. baby oil and a toothbrush :) that's what I used on mine when they were babies!

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  8. LOL I feel the same way about it - ick...but it's been a fact of life here. Thanks for this post!

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  9. This post came just as I noticed what I *thought* was cradle cap on my son's head. However, it's only at the crown of the head and nowhere else, so I think once I am able to remove it, it won't be back. I am going to try your oil suggestion tonight before bathtime. I think that I didn't notice it right away because my son has really long hair.

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  10. Tear-free shampoos aren't the cause of cradle, just thought I'd clarify - both my boys had cradle cap and I never used baby shampoos on them in their life.

    Also the oil treatment (even plain ol' vegetable oil works too!) worked far better than expensive cradle cap shampoos :).

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  11. I would believe the link between celiac and cradle cap. My daughter was ten and still had dandruff-like crud like that on her head. I put up with a lot of abuse from a hairdresser who said to me that if I just WASHED her hair it would go away. :-| But the expensive shampoo she sold me worked!

    When they were babies I did the oil and combing (or fingernails... sorry for the gross image...) It only worked until they got hair, though. The oldest rubbed Nivea cream into her hair one time and that did lift a lot of dead skin. Gross to comb out, but effective!

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  12. Hi, the oil-massage-and-comb method worked very well when my children were babies and toddlers...but...a word of caution. My son has psoriasis in his ears. It was years before I knew this and always thought he was over-reacting when I cleaned his ears, but it really hurt him. Since then he has developed it on his scalp (he's 11 now) so if you are removing cradle cap (and most of the time that IS what it is) make sure you don't see blood or thick white scale crusts. Psoriasis is an autoimmune issue and you're going to want your doctor to confirm your suspicion.

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  13. Just be SOOOO careful. Our 5th child had pretty bad cradle cap. When #6 came along, I was determined NOT to let it happen. I did what you are suggesting... soaking with oil, then combing out. But, I did it so much, that I macerated his scalp and then could only use warm water on his head for months until it healed. His scalp looked HORRIBLE. Poor little guy!

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  14. My kids get cradle cap. It comes and goes, usually stays during the summer months when they're sweating more. I leave it be. I can't see it through their hair and it seems to prevent the local lice epidemics from reaching our home. (The lice can't get close enough to their scalps...)

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  15. I am in the minority here according to the comments, but I have used breast milk & it worked wonders. I had to apply it once a day for 2-3 days (doesn't have to be right in a row... it can be a few days or even a week apart) & the CC never came back after that, now several months later. I applied it directly on the child's head until the scalp was thoroughly wet & then left it to air dry. VOILA! No more CC & no drugs, chemicals, etc. My sister did the same thing for her baby & he is also CC free.

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  16. Not having young ones of my own, I'd never even heard of cradle cap. As a bit of a medicine / health geek, however, I really enjoyed this post. Glad your home remedy worked.

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  17. Not having younglings of my own (unless my precious puppy counts), I'd never even heard of cradle cap, but as a bit of a medicine / health geek, I really enjoyed this post. Glad your home remedy worked!

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  18. My daughter is one and still has wicked cradle cap. Her doctor recommended Head and Shoulders, but DH and I are no 'poo and are doing that with her as well. I've tried olive oil before to no avail.

    But I have a terrible scalp, too. Prescription shampoos didn't do anything to fix it. The only time I didn't have scalp issues was when pregnant. So how much of this is just bad genes and how much of it is contact or food based? We don't know.

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  19. I had a soft brush and just brushed gently daily until it stopped flaking off and after three months of this it went away. Although sometimes it comes back again.

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  20. Cradle cap..usually GLA production is limited or blocked. Supplementing with borage or primrose oil (which contain GLA) should clear it up in few months. Alternately these oils can be rubbed into the skin (anywhere not only the scalp) and still be effective.

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