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When I had my fourth child, he was born with a full head of thick, dark hair. How can a baby have so much hair? I often wondered. Kind of funky, like I hadn't washed it for several days. Upon further inspection, I discovered a yellow crust on his scalp, very similar to scales – and it smelled bad. I had a mild freak out. Instead of running to the pediatrician, I looked through my natural remedy book and breathed a sigh of relief. Turns out, it was cradle cap.
What is cradle cap?
According to BabyCenter, it's infantile seborrheic dermatitis. Basically, it's dandruff for babies. Some experts believe that the hormones a baby receives from his mother at the end of pregnancy can overstimulate the baby's oil-producing glands, resulting in cradle cap. Irritation from a yeast that grows in the sebum (the substance produced by the glands) is also thought to be a culprit. Once I figured out exactly what it was (my other three children never had it), I made it my mission for my little one to have a healthy, crust-free scalp.
After he was fed and was content to lay in my arms, I would go to town. The cradle cap is sometimes very stubborn to remove, so I literally had to scrape it off.
How to treat cradle cap
- Gently massage baby's scalp using a soft-bristle brush to loosen the scales.
- Rub a generous amount of oil on baby's scalp and let it sink in for a few minutes. Any kind of light oil will do – almond, grapeseed, olive. My favorite was coconut oil.
- Using a fine-tooth comb, gently comb out flakes that will be loosened up by the oil.
It took me several days to remove the yellow, scaly patches on his scalp because of all his hair – it was oddly satisfying. But once it was complete, I was overjoyed to see my son's healthy, soft, non-stinky scalp, free from any cradle cap.
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Image source: Flickr/Sterling Ely
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.