Cradle cap is a very common problem affecting babies from around 4-6 weeks of age. It often reoccurs throughout childhood, affecting children up to the age of 3-5 years old.
What is it?
Cradle cap first appears as small yellow patches or dry flaky skin on a young infant’s scalp. It usually occurs on the top of the scalp over the front fontanelle (the soft spot on top of a baby’s head), but it can quickly spread over the entire head if untreated.
What causes it?
Cradle cap is caused by over activity of the sebaceous (oilproducing) glands on the baby’s scalp. If the scalp is not massaged or stimulated, this over-activity leads to a build up of natural oils and dry dead skin cells that form scales. A thick yellow-brown crust on the baby’s head results and the skin beneath the crusts can become red and inflamed and prone to infection. It is not a form of dandruff and does not indicate poor hygiene or lack of care. If cradle cap becomes thick and widespread, it can become quite smelly. This is due to dead skin and oil build up.