Cradle cap

What is Cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a condition that is common among new born babies where their scalp gets affected by rashes that are yellowish, brown, scaly and greasy on the top of the skin. This scaly skin falls off every now and then from the scalp. Sometimes, hair might also fall off along with the flaky skin. Do not worry as the hair will regrow.

Studies show that it might happen when the skin cells in the scalp produce more sebum. Though it does not look pretty on the baby’s skin, it does no harm. Baby does not feel itchy or any irritation on the skin because of cradle cap.

Do not try to remove the scaly rashes physically by scratching the skin. It will hurt the baby’s scalp and lead to wounds.

This infection can very rarely cause rashes on the cheeks, near eyebrows and ears. If your baby gets the rashes anywhere else other than scalp, you can check with your pediatrician to understand the severity and treatment. When the rashes are visible only on the scalp, there are many home remedies that can help you treat your baby.

Home remedies to treat cradle cap

Use a mild baby shampoo regularly

Cleaning your baby’s scalp daily using a mild shampoo can loosen the scaly scalp. The loosened scales fall off in no time. When you wash your baby’s hair and scalp, use a very soft brush to clean. Using shampoo every day or every alternate day will reduce the rashes and also prevent further infection spreading to other parts.

Make sure that you use only a mild baby shampoo, unless your doctor has prescribed a medicinal shampoo.

baby shampoo
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Olive oil

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You can apply extra virgin olive oil on the scalp to loosen the scales. This is will help the scales to fall off from the scalp. Applying oil will moisten the scalp and help in hair regrowth. You can also try using Almond oil.


  1. Apply few drops of olive oil on the affected area.
  2. Let it soak for 30 to 40 minutes.
  3. Use a soft brush to remove the scales from the scalp.
  4. Later, wash the scalp with mild shampoo for further cleaning.

As a word of caution, if your baby is allergic or catches cold because of oil application, do not leave the oil on the scalp for more than 10 minutes. Do not pull off the scales with your hand, it might hurt the baby’s scalp.

Coconut oil

The nourishing coconut oil not only helps to loosen the layers on the scalp, but also provides necessary nutrition to the hair. Since there are no side effects of using coconut oil, you can use it on a regular basis even after the rashes are cured. The essential fatty acids in coconut oil aid in healthy hair growth.


  1. Warm a tablespoon of coconut oil.
  2. Apply the oil on the scalp once it is warm and is in a bearable temperature for the baby.
  3. Leave it on for 20 – 30 minutes on the rashes.
  4. Rinse it off with a mild shampoo. You can also use gram flour (besan) instead.

You can leave the coconut oil overnight and brush off the scales in the morning using a soft brush.

Sweet baby
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Please read the caution note specified above for olive oil. The same is applicable for coconut oil as well.

Petroleum jelly or Vaseline

Applying petroleum jelly or Vaseline also helps in loosening the scales from the scalp. This however, is not our favourite remedy since it does involve the usage of chemicals. But good quality petroleum jelly is harmless and can be used for severe conditions.


  1. Apply a little amount of petroleum jelly on the baby’s scalp.
  2. Leave it overnight.
  3. Use a soft brush to remove the scales from the scalp in the morning.
  4. Later, wash the scalp using mild shampoo.

Petroleum jelly or Vaseline does not cause any harm to the baby’s skin, hence you can keep using it until the rashes are completely cured.

You may also try using butter on the scalp. But you might have to clean the scalp well, to avoid greasiness.

The cradle cap condition gets cured by itself in few months. You can follow the remedies mentioned for quick cure and prevention of further infection. Keep using mild shampoos that are gentle on the baby’s skin. Cradle cap does not happen because of hygiene issues, so please do not get stressed about too much cleaning and hygiene conditions.

Kripa Sivasubramanian, MBA, earned her Master’s degree in Business. After a long stint in the Technology sector, she took up courses in natural medicine and yoga. Ms. Kripa is certified in Ayurvedic yoga for Dosha. She is also certified by Stanford University School of Medicine in Introduction to Food and Health.