Cradle cap is mostly a cosmetic issue and usually goes away on its own, but read on to learn how to get rid of cradle cap quickly and naturally.
So your precious newborn has developed scaly yellow patches on his or her head? Don’t worry: It’s probably just cradle cap—a common skin condition in newborns that usually goes away on its own. It’s mostly a cosmetic issue—and something that probably bothers you more than it bothers baby—but if you want to know how to get rid of cradle cap, read on.
Cradle Cap Treatment: How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap
Since cradle cap doesn’t hurt or itch, the easiest option is to just let it be. In most cases, cradle cap isn’t harmful and will clear on its own, typically within a few months. But if you still want to know how to get rid of cradle cap, you can try these natural remedies.
1. Soften with oil
Some parents have found simply massaging a raw, vegetable oil into the scalp once a day works wonders to calm inflammation and nourish baby’s tender skin. Plus, massaging the scalp is great for stimulating baby’s neural pathways.
- Apply coconut, almond, or olive oil to the affected area.
- Let sit for about an hour.
- Follow up with shampoo.
Alternatively, apply calendula infused cream or a thin layer of shea butter to the scalp.
2. Exfoliate with a brush
After using a special shampoo, or several hours after applying an oil, brush the scalp gently. The softened scales will come off much more easily, without damaging the scalp itself. Just be sure to use a natural brush with very soft bristles, like this one.
3. Use a special shampoo
Conventional dandruff shampoos are sometimes used on babies, but they contain harsh ingredients like coal tar and salicylic acid. Fortunately, you can make your own natural and gentle cradle cap shampoo (see recipes below).
Just be careful not to over wash. Frequent shampooing strips the natural oils from delicate skin and can actually cause an overproduction of the scalp’s sebum, exacerbating cradle cap. Shampoo two to three times per week, no more.
Cradle Cap Shampoo #1: Chamomile Shampoo
- ¼ tsp unscented Castile soap
- 2 chamomile tea bags
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 drop each tea tree and lavender essential oil (where to buy)
- 1 TB olive or coconut oil
- Gently massage 1 tablespoon of oil and essential oils onto baby’s scalp for about 2 minutes.
- Let the oil sit on baby’s scalp for 20 minutes.
- Comb baby’s hair several times to loosen up the cradle cap and start removing the flaky skin.
- Meanwhile, soak two organic chamomile tea bags in 2 cups of hot water for 20 minutes. Let water cool to room temperature.
- Put baby in the bath and rub their hair with ¼ tsp castile soap and scrub thoroughly yet gently.
- Slowly rinse the scalp with the chamomile tea, being careful not to get soap in baby’s eyes.
Comb baby’s hair well to remove any remaining flakes. Repeat 2-3 times per week.
Cradle Cap Shampoo #2: Apple Cider Vinegar Elixir
Apple cider vinegar is a miracle worker for so many things, and cradle cap is no different. It’s probiotic and antifungal to help balance out the scalp naturally.
- 2 TB raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup filtered water
- Pour the mixture over baby’s scalp, making sure that none gets in their eyes.
- Massage the scalp for a few minutes.
- Let the vinegar mixture sit for 10 minutes. Rinse with water.
Cradle Cap Shampoo #3: Iodine Aloe Gel
Aloe is soothing to the skin, but one study also found that this natural remedy improved dandruff symptoms by a whopping 58 percent. For this recipe, you can get a small aloe vera plant or a large aloe vera leaf from the health food store. Kroger and Whole Foods usually sell aloe leaves like this.
- Aloe vera leaf
- 1-2 drops nascent iodine (where to buy)
- Unscented Castile soap
- Cut a small portion of the leaf and extract 1 tablespoon of aloe vera gel. Add 1-2 drops of nascent iodine and apply to baby’s scalp.
- Leave on for at least 20 minutes.
- Wash out with Castile soap.
What to Do If Cradle Cap Doesn’t Go Away
If you know how to get rid of cradle cap, but don’t see any progress, it may signal a deeper issue, like a gut imbalance or mineral deficiency. If you suspect that’s the case, try these natural remedies for cradle cap.
1. Supplement and nourish
- If you’re breastfeeding, it may help to increase your nutrient intake. Specifically biotin, zinc, B6, selenium, and manganese can help remedy cradle cap.
- If breastfeeding isn’t an option, look into adding nutrient-rich foods when baby is ready for solids.
Omega-3s and vitamin D can help with cradle cap by improving skin health. These can be taken as supplements, or increased in the diet through food. Talk to your pediatrician about adding a few drops of cod liver oil, which is rich in vitamin D and omega 3s, under baby’s tongue or even adding topically to cradle cap sores. Wild caught salmon, oysters, flax seed, and chia seed are also good sources of omega-3s. Butter, tuna, salmon beef liver, and egg yolks are good sources of vitamin D.
Some recommend putting ¼ tsp slippery elm in baby’s bottle, or on the nipple prior to breastfeeding. This helps soothe the digestive tract and helps their body absorb nutrients more efficiently. Talk to your doctor before implementing, especially if baby is under 4 months old.
2. Add probiotics
Boost baby’s gut flora by adding an baby probiotic to their bottle, or by using this DIY nipple cream if you are breastfeeding. Alternatively, the breastfeeding mother can boost her consumption of high-quality and effective probiotics. Fermented foods like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, yogurt, and fermented veggies are all good dietary sources of probiotics, too.
Cradle cap is just temporary. Spend some time learning how to get rid of cradle cap, but don’t fret if it’s not getting much better. Do what you can to keep baby comfortable, and if it becomes significantly inflamed, itchy, cracked, or oozes fluid, contact the pediatrician.
Related: Best Stroller Boards of 2019