How to treat cradle cap


Cradle cap looks like dry yellow crusting or scales and it is usually formed on the scalp. It can also appear on other areas of the body too such as the forehead, nose, eyes, eyebrows, ears and bum. The scales are characterised by being oily, thick and difficult to remove - but fortunately they are not painful or itchy. Cradle cap is just your baby’s body trying to adjust to life outside of the womb. It soon finds its balance and everything calms down.

You may see it quite intensively for a couple of weeks then it will seem as though you’ve gotten rid of it only to find it has come back again. Cradle cap is not contagious so you don’t need to worry about your other children or anyone else in your household catching it.

Cradle cap doesn’t hurt your baby and usually your child will outgrow it in a few weeks or months.

You can help remove the cradle cap by following these steps:

  1. Gently massage a simple oil or moisturiser onto the cradle cap and leave it for a while - we love the Cradle Cap Fighter from Nude Alchemist
  2. Wash your baby’s head with mild baby shampoo and rinse well with warm water
  3. Gently rub the area with the cradle cap lightly with a towel, your fingers [not nails!], or a soft baby brush to help to remove the old skin cells
  4. Repeat this process for several days until the cradle cap has gone

Gently brushing your child’s hair with a soft baby hairbrush is also a good way to remove cradle cap and keep it away. Often whānau (like grandparents or older siblings) enjoy this activity with baby and love to brush their hair.

When to call a doctor or midwife for cradle cap:

  • Baby is less than 1 month old with tiny water blisters or pimples in a cluster
  • Your child looks or acts very sick
  • You think your child needs to be seen
  • Raw rash behind the ears
  • Rash spreads beyond the scalp
  • Cradle cap gets worse with treatment
  • Cradle cap lasts longer than 12 months
  • You have other questions or concerns

Tania of LMB

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