What Is Cradle Cap And When It Will Go Away


Welcoming a baby into the world is both confusing and wonderful at the same time. You, as a parent, will face all the love and joy parenthood brings. But, there will also be many concerns you will have to face once your newborn becomes the center of your world.

Your child will most certainly develop several conditions and deficiencies. You can expect anything from jaundice to eczema. The problem arises if you don’t know how to deal with those conditions accordingly. A cradle cap is one of those “What is this?” conditions.

About the Cradle Cap

This condition is also known as seborrheic dermatitis. You probably won’t come across this term unless you visit a doctor. Here are a few simple definitions for this condition you should know:

Seborrhea happens when sebaceous glands suffer from overactivity. This results in excessive secretion of sebum which leads to crusts, scales, and oily coating on the skin. Sebaceous glands are small glands in the skin which produce oily matter that lubricate our hair and skin.

Dermatitis is a condition of the skin when it becomes sore, swollen, and red. Usually, the main cause for this is an allergic reaction or an external agent.

If you’re still asking yourself “What is cradle cap?” let’s put all of this scientific stuff into simple words. A cradle cap is red, oily, and irritated skin that may result in crusty, scaly, and discolored patches. Some people even call this condition “infant dandruff”. However, you shouldn’t be using a dandruff shampoo to deal with this condition.

The predominant location for the condition is the scalp. However, cradle cap may also appear on baby’s ears, eyebrows, forehead, and even diaper area.

But, when does cradle cap go away? This question is asked often, and of course, there’s an answer. First, we have to mention that this condition is mostly harmless and it will be cured, so there’s no reason to panic. Usually, it will disappear by your child’s first birthday. It may reappear but with less intensity. The condition shouldn’t be reappearing after your toddler turns 4.

Is There a Reason to Worry?

There is one simple answer. No. As already mentioned, the condition will retreat soon and will not harm. However, to better understand what is cradle cap, you have to know what causes the condition. It is generally considered that the cradle cap is just the body’s reaction to adjusting to a new environment. Existing mother’s womb is stressful for the newborn’s body and it will go through a lot of changes during the first year of its life.

Pediatricians estimate that about 50% of newborns will experience some sort of a cradle cap before their first birthday. However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pay attention to it. Your newborn will be able to stabilize the condition on its own without much trouble. But, sometimes these irritated and scaly patches may get infected. Usually, a reason for this is clothing, scratching, or even bedding. These infections are very rare, but you should pay attention if your baby has a cradle cap.

You shouldn’t be worried about your child experiencing pain or spreading the condition to other children. Leading pediatricians suggest that this is not the case, so this is one less thing to worry about. Of course, you should always consult with your doctor about your child’s condition if you’re worried. Your doctor will also give you the best estimate of when does cradle cap go away – regarding your child’s condition.

Cradle Cap and Other Conditions

You probably won’t be sure whether your newborn has a cradle cap or some other skin condition. Also, if a cradle cap appears on the other parts of the body besides the head, you will probably even get worried. So, how can you successfully identify a cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a rash, and it is only one of a few your child can develop. However, there are a few distinguishing features. The first one, of course, being the location of the rash – cradle cap usually forms on your baby’s face, head, and neck. Another good sign of a cradle cap is small patches of crusty skin. These patches will usually feel rough and hard to the touch and you will be able to raise them in little clumps from your baby’s body.

Other skin conditions are different in several ways. For example, eczema and dry skin will usually result in flaky skin that you will be able to rub off pretty easy. On the other hand, if your baby has a cradle cap, you will notice a lot of dead skin stuck to your child’s skin. Also, eczema and dry skin may appear almost anywhere on your newborn’s body, unlike cradle cap. Finally, a cradle cap’s rash will feel oily if you touch it, while eczema and dry skin feel dry and tender.

Cradle Cap – Causes

As already mentioned, this condition is more or less common and a lot of babies will experience it in some form. However, there is very little formal information explaining what is cradle cap exactly. This is the main reason why it may be hard to treat the condition and to prevent it from happening.

Here are a few reasons doctors usually suggest are the reason for developing cradle cap.

Maternal Hormones

One of the most popular theories Is suggesting that it’s mommy’s hormones are to blame for dysfunction of baby’s sebaceous glands. Doctors believe that baby’s glands will sometimes work harder due to the presence of the mother’s hormones during the first year of life.

However, this is just a theory. It sounds logical, but don’t let this discourage you in your nursing habits. Eventually, your child will get used to a new environment and its hormones will go back to normal after its first birthday.


Another cause of cradle cap is believed to be Malassezia, which is a specific strain of yeast. It may colonize on your baby’s skin and cause inflammation and redness. This is the body’s way to fight off the yeast. This may eventually lead to cradle cap.

Fungal Infection

Another popular theory says that fungal infection is to blame for the cradle cap. However, there’s a need for additional research to prove this. Many pediatricians believe that cradle cap is closely related to the rest of fungal skin conditions.

It is still unclear if the condition is may be caused by an allergic reaction, poor hygiene, or even a bacterial infection. One thing is sure, the skin condition is considered normal and no proofs are telling us we should worry about it at all. Sometimes, the skin condition might retreat within a week with proper treatment.

About Treatment


The one thing you should never forget when treating any skin condition is that baby’s skin is incredibly sensitive. This means that you have to avoid any potentially toxic chemicals if you want to treat your child’s cradle cap on your own.

This means that you definitely won’t use hydrogen peroxide, essential oils, or apple cider vinegar to treat your baby’s scalp. You may often hear that people use these products to treat cradle cap, but make sure you avoid them for obvious reasons. Instead, opt for baby-friendly products.

Make sure you consult with your baby’s pediatrician before using any product on your baby. The doctor will give you the best choice and explain what ingredients and brands might be toxic if absorbed through the skin. Buy products that are proven as safe for babies and that are made with natural ingredients. There are many potentially threating chemicals in our everyday life, so be sure you are using the right one.

You usually don’t have to rush to the doctor if you notice a cradle cap, but you should mention it when you go to a check-up. Call the doctor if the skin is agitated, infected, or if it looks very red to you. Also, contact your baby’s pediatrician if the condition spreads to the other parts of the body. Don’t use any rash creams without the doctor’s permission.

You can easily mistake infantile eczema for cradle cap since they are very similar. However, your doctor will be able to tell a difference very easily and will provide your baby with the best treatment. Also, you will get the best answer on when does cradle cap go away directly from your baby’s doctor.

Baby Planet Overview

A cradle cap is a common skin condition and a lot of babies will probably experience it. It is harmless, but we still don’t know the exact cause for it. However, pediatricians encourage parents not to worry too much since the condition usually disappears on its own. Of course, if you notice an infection you should immediately contact your doctor to get the needed help.

Skin conditions are common in babies, and cradle cap is not much different – just don’t panic and provide your child with lots of love and joy!

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  1. Cradle Cap, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Hello Mother's and Father's of the world. My name is Sarah Nielsen is this is my passion MyBabiesPlanet.com, as I am a mother of two beautiful babies and they are my world. Also I love blogging and sharing my experiences of what has worked for me when raising my kids. When I'm not juggling the madness at home, or working on my blog. You will find me product researching and keeping the site freshly updated with the latest baby gear and helpful articles for my readers!