48 answers

Cradle Cap/ Dry Scalp

My 5 month old has an ongoing problem with a dry scalp. She is always itching it to the point of having to hold her arms down when she sleeps or eats. I cut her little finger nails but she still manages to cut her scalp when scratching it. I have tried olive oil each night and brushing it thru with a soft brush, head and shoulders, selson blue, aquapher and vaseline intensive care lotion. The head and shoulders and selson blue clear up the cradle cap in one day but she is still left with a dry flakey scalp. The lotion, aquapher and olive oil work well enough but require constant application, if I skip a day, it is dry all over again. Any other suggestions would help. We have to avoid products with scents in them like baby oil due to very sensative skin.

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I used head & shoulders for a few days, and it worked. Afterwards, my sons scalp dried out again. I bought Aveeno Shampoo & Body Wash, and his dryness ALL OVER his body has cleared up, not just on his head... Good Luck!!!

Hydrocortisone Cream works great! We used it on my son's scalp when he had the cradle cap, and also under his chin when he had a rash, it is great stuff!

You have lots of suggestions, but didn't see this one on the list. We just saw a dermatologist for my sons skin issues and they gave us a sample of Neutragena T-sal shampoo. After two months of trying everything his cradle cap cleared up in less than a week. It can be found in the shampoo aisle at most stores. Hope you find something that works! B.

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Hi S.,

I would be very careful of products like head & shoulders, selson blue, aquapher, and vasaline . They all have pretty scary additives and ingredients like petrochemicals, parabens, phfalates and alcohols, just to name a few. And yes, all of those things have been directly linked to significant long term health issues.

If regular applications of olive oil are working, I'd stick with that or other natural oils. Olive oil is a magnificent healer. The structure of the oil makes it particularly good for penetrating, moisturizing and actually healing the flaking.

I'm mom who created my own line of natural skin and body care products because I couldn't find anything on the market that helped my son with very dramatic eczema. What I finally came up with helped to completely cure his eczema. And it is made of all natural, food grade ingredients. My Skin Healer would really help your daughter. I'd be happy to send you a sample, just contact me off list.



After using the shampoo, rub a little shortening into her scalp. My 32 year old still has to do that today because conditioners haven't worked.

You have lots of suggestions, but didn't see this one on the list. We just saw a dermatologist for my sons skin issues and they gave us a sample of Neutragena T-sal shampoo. After two months of trying everything his cradle cap cleared up in less than a week. It can be found in the shampoo aisle at most stores. Hope you find something that works! B.

I was told not too long ago that most scalp conditions like dandruf and itchiness is due to not dry skin issues but a yeast growth that's out of balance. We normally have yeast present on our skin but I imagine that with cradle cap that the babe is still "under construction" when it comes to the body tuning itself. I'd check with a doc but I was given a medicated shampoo to rectify the yeast growth on my scalp. I'd also try T-Gel shampoo, my step daughter had to use it as a kid for a simular problem...
Good luck...

My son had dry scalp/cradle cap that was irritating him too. We found a cradle cap wash in the baby isle at Target that worked really well. Just apply during the bath, rub in and comb through. It didn't clear it up overnight, but it was just a few days. Not sure if it is for sensitive skin or not, but next time you are at the store you can always take a look. I think it had Pooh or another cartoon character on the bottle as well. Good luck!

My son had a really bad problem with cradle cap and dry scalp. I tried ALL of the things that you've explained and more, but after months and months I finally figured out that he was allergic to milk.
So anyway, if you've tried everything, my suggestion is to think about what she's eating and see if that helps. It did take like a week for him to really start clearing up. But there were other things that stopped instantly when I started to change his diet,(or rather, mine since I was nursing)like he wasn't as itchy, even though the rash was still there and, he was just more pleasant/happy....Anyway, so what I'm saying is you won't have to wait a whole week to see if taking something out of her diet is working.
Anyway, I hope this helps, and good luck! :)

My son is 11 weeks and had cradle cap on his tamples, head, and between his eyes. I bought a product by California Baby called Calendula Cream. You can buy it at Whole Foods or on line. Its pretty expensive but works like a charm. All dry and flaky skin was gone within two days. I was pretty amazed. I hope it helps.

She sounds pretty severe, so this might not work, but it helped with my little girl. When you are in the tub, wash her hair first and just let the shampoo soak on her head while you wash her body and let her play.Before you rinse it, use either a soft toothbrush or one of those soft brushes they give you from the hospital. For some reason it helps soak down into the follicles and moisten the scalp better. Then don't worry about trying to get all of the dry flakes out. I know it looks gross, but it can irritate her more. Within two weeks of doing this to my daughter the problem was gone, and the flakes will start to go away on their own. My pediatrician told me this and said it was better than the over the counter treatments.

Try changing your Laundry soap. Make sure everything she uses (blankets, sheets, etc.) is washed in it. I also had to use a hydrocortisone cream for bad breakouts, now I rarely have to use it. The itching is gone now. The warmer weather has also helped. Good luck it's so sad to see their poor skin so irritated. :(

I have a 6 month old that had really bad cradle cap. I don't bathe him that often at all. If I do I only give him a water bath to try and keep all of his natural oils on. He also has eczema on his cheeks and body which I think is what cradle cap is. I use hydrocortisone when he breaks out but try and keep him creamed up with gentle naturals eczema cream. You want a cream not just a lotion as creams are heavier duty and just lather that head up. I tried this stuff on a whim and love it. They also have a wash you put in their water when bathing them. Try not to make the bath water to hot. Make sure you wash everthing in fragrance free detergent too as that can make their skin react. Whenever we visit family he seems to break out more and I'm sure it's from the laundry detergents. http://www.gentlenaturals.com/products/eczema_cream.cfm

The best thing you can use is BAG BALM it comes in a green can. King Soopers carries it sometimes in the beauty isle and at Wal-mart it is in the pet supply isle. I used this for all the skin problem my 3 children had and it worked for every thing. Diaper rash, cradle cap,hives, etc... I still keep it around for dry skin. Try to avoid cortizone unless it is absolutely necessary since it is a steroid.

My daughter used to have the same thing for years until I found Arbonne's baby line. It got rid of it and her extremely dry skin on her hands. Let me know if you want a free sample pack.

The harshest chemicals out there are in over the counter baby products. Make sure you are using no Mineral Oil and no artificial colors and fragrances.

Treatment suggestions I would make have already been mentioned, but I just wanted to encourage you that perhaps your daughter will outgrow this soon... my son had a similar cradle cap problem til he was about 8 months old -- then it just went away on it's own. Good luck treating it in the meantime.

My baby had a similar problem and we tried the new Desitin Clear Multi-Purpose Ointment and after a week of using it once or twice a day it was gone for good.
Good Luck!


My husband has the same ongoing problem with a dry scalp. He uses Sensaria's Jojoba Oil. He applies it in the morning after a shower and it lasts all day. The advantage to Jojoba is that it is very much like the oil our skin produces naturally, so there is no reaction to it. You can find it at www.mysensaria.com/cgonzalez under Body Care in the catalog. It is also great for dry cuticles, a deep hot oil hair treatment and many other uses.


My girl had the same problem when she was a baby and I used hydrocortisone cream which cleared it right up. I think I put it on about twice a day and it was a miracle cure for us!

Try changing your baby's shampoo. The typical baby shampoos have a lot of scent in them and they are very basic and therefore irritating to the scalp. Paul Mitchell makes a baby shampoo that is not basic and is far less irritating to the scalp than the typical shampoos. You can get it at a beauty supply. My friend, who is a hairdresser, had the same problem with her kids and it was the only shampoo she could use.

Also, when I had my first two children the hospital gave me a soft, plastic scrub brush that was specifically for rubbing off the scaly skin caused by cradle cap. It seemed to help if you don't have one you can get one at Babies R Us.

Hydrocortisone Cream works great! We used it on my son's scalp when he had the cradle cap, and also under his chin when he had a rash, it is great stuff!

hi S.,
my daughter had cradle cap and i couldn't get oil to work or anything. i finally just bought some shampoo for cradle cap and after a few applications it went away completely and forever. it was a little nasty, because it left her hair oily for a couple of days, even when i washed it daily after the application, but you know. . better oily for a few days than cradle cap forever. anyway, i used the "Gentle Naturals" Cradle cap treatment and it worked like a charm. so much so that i'd just send it in the mail to you because i have that much leftover. i think it took two or three times and we were rid of it completely. good luck, there are a lot of suggestions to try.

i know of something that helps.
contact me at ____@____.com and i'll share some testimonials with you if you're interested in more natural remedies for these types of things.

My son had cradle cap really thick between his eyes and eyebrows and on his head. I used cortizone 1% cream on his head. I would rub some in about 1/2 before giving him a bath and then wash his hair really well, letting the shampoo soak for a minute or so. After the bath I would brush his hair, not hard, but hard enough to get the dry skin up. He never acted bothered by it and actually seemed to like it. (I think it itched) I would also use straight vaseline on his head and brush through it doing the same thing, trying to get the dry skin up. On his face, I would apply vaseline a few times a day and both have cleared up completely. It's been a week since the cradle cap on his head has been gone and there isn't any dry skin at all!

Hi S.- What shampoo are you using? That may be causing some of it. We finally used Avalon Organic Shampoo, which really helped and the California Baby Natural Conditioner. Also, it wasn't just putting the olive oil or almond oil on, but also brushing it (not combing) but getting a good baby brush and getting it off. Once I got a good brush, I couldn't believe how much came off. A lot of the brushes sold are kind of crappy, but I think ours was just a Parenting Magazine one. Best of luck!

If sensitive skin is an issue, may she have eczema? I and 4 of my children have eczema and we have had to use prescription creams on them. My one year old seemed to have an ongoing cradle cap about that age, that I was so frustrated about. We used some prescription hydrocortisone cream along with Phisoderm for washing, or no soap at all, and we softly scrubbed his head with each bath before applying the creams. After a while, it cleared up. Hope this will help!!

Have her allergy tested--any type of eczema is an allergy, usually to something she's eating

My pediatrician recommended using a toothbrush with regular adult shampoo for cradle cap/dry scalp. Put the olive oil on, let it soak in, then put a little shampoo on an old toothbrush and scrub as hard as you can. (Don't draw blood, but scrub as hard you can without that.) It really worked. My kids and I and my husband all have sensitive skin, and I stopped using baby products with my oldest and just use the same stuff my husband and I use, because it's fine with us. My pediatrician said that was the best way, a lot of baby products can be irritating.

Hi S.,
I swear cradle cap is the worst!! My son is also five months old and had a very bad case. I tried what my dr recommended, which was the lotions, olive oil and scrubbing like crazy, with no results. He also has very sensitive skin. I think I tried everything. But the one thing that finally worked and I swear by is hydrocortisone. I had a prescription of hydrocortisone and I just rubbed it all over his face and in hair. It was thick but I just put it on at night and let it do its thing, and then washed it off when we went somewhere. I only had to do it for maybe 2 days and then it was gone. If it started to come back I would just reapply. I haven't had any problems for along time. Hopefully this works for you I wish someone would have told me about it before I tried all the other stuff. Good luck!! O and I think the otc hydrocortisone will work, maybe not as strong??

I used regular salad oil for cooking, and had to use it on my children just twice, with the applications months apart. It worked better than anything else I tried.

My son also had Cradle Cap when he was that age. I used whatever soap his sensitive skin could handle to wash his hair. I found that Johnson's was too harsh and used either Aveno or Baby Magic. I then washed his hair like normal but i used a all over body brush to massage the scalp. I think I found the brush at walmart. it has a soft bristle on one side and a sponge on the other side. I would do this every other day and followed it up with Aveno baby lotion after the bath and it went away within a week. Hope this helps!

Hi S., my 3 year old son had similar issues with a dry scalp, but after I used Arbonne Baby Care products, the issue went away. Check out www.arbonne.com and more specifically https://www.arbonne.com/shop_online/showCatalog.asp?categ... for the baby products. The body wash and the body oil worked really good for this dry scalp issue with my son. If you want to try the products, email me and I will send you some free samples: ____@____.com.
M. N.

My boy had a scaly, dry scalp as well. I cleared it up with coconut oil. I put a little oil on his head for two days in a row and left it in. Then I gently removed the scales with a comb. He hasn't had a problem since. Some excellent coconut oil brands are Tropical Traditions and Garden of Life. Coconut oil is very nourishing to the skin plus it is antifungul.

I have 2 girls and I also used the Arbonne baby hair/body wash. It made a big difference and it is great for their dry skin too.

Hello. I highly recommend the Arbonne Baby Care set. Especially the hair/body wash, the lotion, and the oil. My son had really bad dry spots on his elbows when he was a baby (he is now 3) but just using it once helped a lot! It is kind of pricey but the oil goes a long way and it isn't greasy and doesn't rub off onto your furniture. The website is www.arbonne.com under the baby care section.....you have to try it, it definitely works wonders and it is all natural with no fragrances so it is great for really sensitive skin too!

My mom to this day uses listerine once in awhile on her head and used it on use as children when our scalps started getting dry or itchy- We also use melaluca shampo, but I've never tried melaluca shampo on an infant- The listerine really helped us. I would just try a little spot to see if it irritates or soothes. I remember as a child it really soothed our itching.

When my daughter was 2 years old I seem to remember having the same problem. I used antibiotic hand cleanser for about one week and it cleared up the problem. My daughter is now 17 years old. I hope this may help you.
S. French

I haven't tried it specifically, but I've had great success with their products. Gentle Naturals makes a Baby Cradle Cap lotion that I would guess would work great. They've never disappointed us.

We've had great success with Mustela products. The Dermo-Pediatrics line [http://www.mustelausa.com/about_dermo.html] has a cradle cap formulation called Stelaker [http://www.mustelausa.com/stelaker.html] that works great. Follow up with the Mustela Bébé foaming shampoo [http://www.mustelausa.com/foam_shampoo.html] and the problem should clear up quickly.

I used head & shoulders for a few days, and it worked. Afterwards, my sons scalp dried out again. I bought Aveeno Shampoo & Body Wash, and his dryness ALL OVER his body has cleared up, not just on his head... Good Luck!!!

Hi, another mom on this site has developed an amazing skin product that I would recommend... ____@____.com

baby oil is messy but it really worked for our baby. Also, you may want to try Burt's bees apricot oil or coconut oil.

Sounds like you're doing what you should be doing. What about putting a hat on her? Get the kind that snaps or velcros underneath her chin so it will stay on. Maybe put mittens on her, too. Also, try Eucerin cream (not lotion).

Hey S., I had the same problem with my son and my doc recommended that I wash his hair with palmolive or some kind of mild dishsoap, and it worked like a charm. It should be okay for her sensitive skin too. Hope this helps.

try baby oil right after a bath and comb it in and repeat it two three times a day that always helped me

Mustela is awesome for dry skin/scalp.

my sister in law used to use listerine on her daughter's scalp. it seemed to work. her father-in-law suggested it and he was a pharmacist. he said cradle cap is a bacteria that causes cradle cap. Bobby

Not many people are aware but using baby oil or any other petroleum based product (vaseline, aquapher) is a never ending cycle of frustration. The reason for this is because it just creates a barrier on the skin and does not allow anything to absorb into in. So what ever is combined with it (lotion) does not absorb. Not only that but it also dries the skin out more. If you would like to see and example of this put a saltine cracker in a cup of baby oil for a hour or so and see what it does! I have had tremendous success with products from a company called Arbonne. They use no mineral oil (petroleum), animal products or anything like that so its great for sensitive skin (even eczema). My 5wk old son had cradle cap too. We bath him with Arbonne baby wash, give the scalp a little scrub then finish with a small amount of lotion on his scalp. Its almost completely cleared up! You can check out their website arbonne.com
If you have any questions about it feel free to email me. ____@____.com
Hope you find something that works for you and your daughter!

Treatment (how to make a baby-k-bob):
1-place towel under baby's head
2-rub (a palmful of) OLIVE OIL into baby's cradle cap
3-sprinkle (a tablespoon or so of) SUGAR on baby's cradle cap
4-GENTLY massage baby's cradle cap with sugar/olive oil mixture (if you rub too hard, baby's skin will be red and raw. You don't need to get all the scales off in one sitting)
5-rinse in bath and wash hair with a very gentle baby shampoo.
6-repeat 2-3 times a week until your baby's oil glands straighten themselves out.

You can use a toothbrush or baby comb instead of the sugar, but I found the sugar to be easier and more effective.

IMPORTANT: See doctor if cradle cap spreads to places other than the scalp - may be a yeast infection or eczema and you'll need antibiotics/steriod cream to clear it up.

Cradle cap usually doesn't itch unless it's really, really bad. So, making baby-k-bobs should get rid of the itching problem even if the oil glands are still over producing.

Cradle cap is NOT from allergies or poor hygiene. Your baby's oil glands are producing too much oil. NEVER USE DANDRUFF SHAMPOO ON A CHILD UNDER 2 YRS OLD. It is too harsh for your baby's skin. It will cause dryness/itching/eczema.

You put oil on the head just long enough to loosen the scales, and then take off the scales and then wash with a mild shampoo. DO NOT LEAVE THE OIL ON LONGER THAN THAT--it'll aggravate the problem.

My son had it so bad and after he was six months old and none of the traditional remedies worked, his pediatrician recommended that I take him to a determatologist. We did and were told that he had something very similar to eczema of the scalp and that he could have dandruff as an adult. He prescribed a steroid oil to rub on his head twice a day and then a warm cloth was put over it for 15 minutes before washing it with Selsom Blue. It took about 3 months to completely clear up, but every non and then he stil gets an outbreak. He now has eczema on his body too he's 18 months now). We will be seeing an allergist to pinpoint the triggers. He said that typically cradle cap goes away by 6 months and if it is still present at 8 months, it's usually an allergy. Talk to your pediatrician and see what he/she thinks about the possiblity of it being an allery. If it runs in your family, then chances are, that's what it is. Hope that helps.

CALIFORNIA BABY conditioner is great! You can get it at Target or online at babycenter.com (I'm sure there are other places, too, but those are ones that I know of). It should take care of the problem in about a week. It helped my son and another friend tried it and had great success as well.

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