How to Manage Cradle cap

Fact Checked

Cradle caps are common conditions occurring in infants which results in the inflammation of the scalp causing scaly skin and a skin or scalp rash. The condition resolves within 8 months without any treatment.

The rash is caused due to the increased activity of the sebaceous gland in the scalp. This occurs as a result of hormones from the mother passing to the baby during birth.

Disclaimer: This topic is not covered in workplace approved programs such as childcare and infant first aid. Contact your doctor if you have any question or concerns about the condition of your infant.cradle cap


Common symptoms and signs of cradle cap of infant scalp rash include:

  • Redness of the scalp—this is often mild
  • Rash on the scalp
  • Yellow scaled
  • Clear crusty scabs
  • Oily skin
  • The scalp rash may also affect the eyebrows, eyelids, nose and ears

When to seek emergency medical help

Report to your doctor if the following problems occur along with cradle cap or scalp rash:

  • Rash that becoming worse
  • Blisters
  • Skin redness and pain that worsens
  • Drainage of pus from the rash or blisters
  • Scabs that form on the rash appear yellow or brown


See your child’s paediatrician if the cradle cap or scalp rash seems to be itchy.

Treatment solely depends on keeping your child’s scalp clean. This can be done by using mild shampoo to wash your child’s scalp daily. Additionally, cleansing can be done using baby oil in order to soften the scales and loosen them. Only severe cases of cradle cap will require medicated shampoos, however, do not use medicated shampoos without consulting your doctor.

Follow the treatment steps given below to treat the symptoms of the rash:

1. Wash your child’s scalp

  • Make sure you use a mild and gentle shampoo to wash your baby’s scalp daily—until the scalp rash clears away
  • Do NOT use any medicated shampoo unless your paediatrician prescribes it

2. Remove the scales on the child’s scalp

  • Brush your child’s hair with a brush with soft-bristles to remove to scales
  • Gently massage your child’s scalp to help remove scales

3. Follow these home care tips:

  • Apply moist warm material on your baby’s head before shampooing his hair
  • Massage the scalp gently while shampooing your child’s hair to remove scales
  • Apply baby oil regularly on your child’s scalp to help loosen the scales
  • Avoid exposing your child to direct sunlight. Place a hat on your child’s head
  • Prescription shampoo should be used as directed by your paediatrician

It is important that you remain patient and follow these home care tips regularly to promote speedy recovery. Cradle cap is not an abnormal condition and is experienced by many children during childhood. Even though cradle cap may look serious, it resolves within a few months.

If you take your child to the doctor, treatment will mainly include routine cleansing using a medicated shampoo. The cleansing treatment will be accompanied with baby oil to soften the scalp and the scales. The doctor will then use a soft brush to gently remove the scales.

Learn More

To learn more about taking care of infants and serious medical emergencies that can occur take workplace approved first aid and CPR training (sign up here).

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