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Cradle Cap


Cradle cap (also called infantile seborrheic dermatitis) is a skin condition. Scaly patches develop on the top of your baby's head. The skin on your baby's face, ears, or groin may also be affected. Cradle cap may be caused by a fungal infection, a baby's oil glands, or by hormones passed to the baby from his mother during pregnancy.


Contact your baby's healthcare provider if:

  • Your baby has new or worsening signs.
  • Your baby's cradle cap does not improve, even after treatment.
  • You have questions or concerns about your baby's condition or care.


  • Medicines may be given as creams to apply to your baby's skin. Antifungal cream helps treat scales that appear on your baby's body. Antihistamine or hydrocortisone cream helps treat inflammation or red skin. Do not use over-the-counter creams unless your baby's healthcare provider says it is okay. Some creams are dangerous when they are absorbed into a baby's skin.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Contact your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him or her if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Manage your baby's cradle cap:

  • Mild baby shampoo may help control cradle cap. Wash your baby's hair once per day. Your baby's healthcare provider may recommend a stronger shampoo if the cradle cap does not improve. You may need to use an adult dandruff shampoo or a shampoo that contains antifungal medicine, such as ketoconazole. Do not use these shampoos unless directed by your baby's healthcare provider. Do not let the shampoos get into your baby's eyes.
  • Remove scales when you wash your baby's hair. Do not pull on the scales. This can spread infection and may cause hair loss. If the scales do not come off easily when you wash your baby's hair, apply mineral oil or olive oil to the skin before you shampoo. Let it sit for 1 hour. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove the scales. Then shampoo your baby's hair as usual.

Follow up with your baby's healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.