A common skin rash that many babies get in the first few months of life is called cradle cap. It can be described as a patchy, greasy, scaly and crusty skin rash that is found on the top of your newborns head. It is not contagious and not dangerous to your baby. What causes it though?
As humans we shed skin cells and grow new ones quickly and often without even realizing it. This action begins in infancy; however many times on babies the new skin grows in faster than it can fall off, leaving the old skin stuck to the head on top of the old.
The sebaceous glands in babies skin is often overactive because of the hormones passed from mom, through the placenta, into the baby shortly before birth. These glands create a greasy substance which can be sticky and keeps the old skin from falling off. It generally appears in a baby within the first three months and rarely after the first birthday until later on in the teen years when puberty begins. It is normally gone by eight months, if not much earlier.
The scaly skin can also appear underneath your baby’s eyebrows, and around/behind his ears. It is important to clean these areas just like you would wash the top of his head. In some cases it may appear on other parts of the body. If you are concerned, ask your pediatrician.
Most of the time treatment is not necessary unless it bothers you or your baby. Some pediatricians will suggest putting olive oil on your baby’s head, waiting for it to loosen the scales and then gently brushing this off. However this will not keep it from reappearing. If the scabbing and skin are extra red or inflamed your baby’s doctor may tell you to use some over-the-counter cortisone cream to help clear it up. If the pediatrician makes a suggestion that does not seem to help matters, be sure to mention it at your next appointment as it may be a sign that something else is going on.
There is no real way to easily prevent cradle cap from appearing. Since it doesn’t normally bother a baby, it is best to let it take its’ course, treat it if necessary, and let it fade on its’ own.
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