36 answers

Scaly, Cradlecap-like Scalp on 3 Yr Old

My 3 yr old daughter used to have one spot on her scalp that was cradlecap-like. I thought it went away, but recently I've been noticing her whole top part of her scalp is scaly and kinda chunky to wear if you brush it with a comb instead of a brush the teeth of the comb get caught on parts of her skin. Her hair is also thinnish and doesn't grow very fast. If I accidently or purposefully peel a chunk of skin off her scalp it takes a very small clump of hair with it. It's kinda disturbing and it worries me that she has it. I don't want her hair to fall out and I want her scalp to be healthy so her hair can grow as normal. Are there creams or shampoos I can use? Has anyone else had this problem?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

I put baby oil on it twice and left it on right before her bath. And it all flaked off and I'm actually able to comb through her hair for the first time without catching on anything!!!!!!! Thanks to everyone!

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My daughter's scalp is the same way and she is 2 and a couple of months, my pediatrician told me to take johnson baby shampoo and massage it into her scalp and then take a baby brush, the soft one with the fine brissels, and brush her hair out with the shampoo still in it and let it set for a couple of min. It seems to be working for me

Try Neutragena body oil. Massage her scalp with a small amount for a few minutes then wash her hair as usual. I have used this to get rid of dandruff and it might work for cradle cap. If it doesn't work,try castor oil. Castor oil will improve circulation.

It sounds like she has some form of tinea, take her to the pediatrician and have him look at it. He can give you some medication for it and it will clear up in no time.

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Sounds like it could be a fungus. My daughter had one when she was small and still has a bald spot. (She's 26 and able to hide it, but it's there.) Better check with a doctor. It could be a reaction to the shampoo or some sort of other allergy, but you don't want it to get away from you.

S. B.

It sounds like she has some form of tinea, take her to the pediatrician and have him look at it. He can give you some medication for it and it will clear up in no time.

My Daughter, now 22,had the same problem. Her hair was sparce and she too, had the scaly type cradle cap. Don't try to peel it off! Instead,15-20 minutes before her evening bath saturate a cotton ball with baby oil. You can use Olive oil as well, but I preferred baby oil. Just before her bath, comb though her hair slightly loosening crust. Bathe her as usual, washing her hair throughly,and rinsing well. Usually several treatments like this rid my daughter of this condition. Contrary to popular belief it is not caused by dry scalp. But by an overproduction of oil. The crust is the build up of this oil. Don't use conditioner, as this only makes matters worse.
Hope this helps. BTW Jaylen's hair grew in THICK and the cradle cap was gone by the time she was 4.

I agree w/ Sarah H and others who recommend using nutritional solutions and probiotics as a baseline. There is no way this could harm your daughter (or anyone else) and helps general health enough to be worth it even if this isn't psoriasis. A dermatologist is also a good option. Any autoimmune disorder will not respond to surface treatments, and this could easily be an autoimmune problem. I will pray for your family that this is something simple and easy. In the meantime, see a dermatologist and make sure.
You can find superior nutritional products and Optiflora ____@____.com if interested.

My son had this when he was little. I simply soaked his little scalp with baby oil for about 10 - 15 minutes then would shampoo the baby oil out. The problem soon went away. I wish you luck with this! It worked really well for us.

My son has the same problem. He also has pretty severe eczema. Our pediatrician called out nizoral for him. I think you can buy it over the counter now. You can only use it every third shampoo. Of course, I would call and check with the dr.

My 3 year old daughter has this. She's been seeing Dr. Stites in Ft Smith (dermatologist) for the last year, he diagnosed her with psoriasis. There are topical treatments that can help, we're still trying a variety of things.

The thing about psoriasis, is that it is an auto-immune disease, so although you SEE the results on the skin, that's just a symptom. The actual problem is usually in the gut, where many/most immune issues are rooted. We're just getting ready to start on a regimen for a couple months that will be a strict food-sensitivity alkaline diet, and coupling it with fish and flax oil and probiotics to recolonize her gut with beneficial bacteria.

I hope you find help!

(speaking of- I'm also a 26yo mama with a 3yo daughter and a 1yo son, if you're local we should set up a playdate!)

I worked at a pediatrician's office for several years and this is what we told our patients to try. Saturate area with baby oil and let it sit for five minutes before bath time. Then wash hair twice, scrub scaly area using a soft bristle baby brush (it will not hurt). If that doesn't work, try Selsum Blue. Also, make sure to try a conditioner made especially for children (Johnson & Johnson has several to choose from). If this still doesn't work (which it did most of the time), call a nurse at your pediatrician's office and ask if they can call something in to your pharmacy. Make sure to explain exactly what it looks like because it may be more than cradle cap. It could be psorriasis. Good luck and God Bless.

My son had the same problem but he has very thick hair(although it did not grow well in the areas where he had the cradle cap.) The thick hair became a problem because we did not realize the cradle cap had gotten so bad until we took him to get his hair cut and the lady began to show us how bad it was. (He is five and had started washing his own hair so I did not look at it every night.) When he was little and would get it I would but Head and Shoudlers shampoo on his hair and let it sit for about 15 mins then SCRUB his hair with my finger nails almost until it bled. After the bath I would brush the cradle cap out and it would very often take big chunks of hair out and make his head bleed but there was no other way to get it out. Now we use Tea Tree Oil Shampoo (Ask for it at the hair salon in Walmart, sevral different companies make it.) We use it EVERY night along with a really good scrubbing and have had no problems since.

My son had "cradle cap" at 2,3, and up, and still does occasionally, and he's almost 10. The doc said it is similar to dandruff, sometimes caused by shampoo residue/irritation, dry scalp, etc. His recommendation at the get-go was to just wash the hair and rinse it really well, and sometimes it would just go away. Some of the kids' shampoos can really dry out the scalp, and that's what irritated his the most. There are some creams available with doctor's prescription, but they're basically dandruff shampoo ingredients. Removing the scales when the hair is still wet is easiest, but there will still be some hair loss no matter when you do it. Making sure you use fingernails on her scalp when rinsing the shampoo out will help remove the scales quicker.
Not really all that much help, but know that there are others going through it, and your daughter should be fine. (Do check for ringworm symptoms/itching before writing it off as cradle cap, since a fungal infection can stick around and really cause hair loss.)

my son, who is almost 19 months old now, had cradle cap when he was just a few weeks old and we used the cradle cap shampoo at walmart *if u have a walmart near u* and a soft brush and it worked. we only had to use it literally 2 times and it all cleared up. it has a pleasant smell and doesnt leave babys hair greasy. again, if you have a walmart near you, you can find it in the baby section with all the shampoos. its not that expensive and it truly works! i hope my advice helps!


I'm in the same boat with you on this one with my 21 month old. I've been trying the Selsun Blue (recommended by her Ped. when she was a baby), but it's still scaley. My daughter's fine hair always looks so greasy when I tried the baby oil, but maybe I just need to let it sit on there longer. Now if only I could find something that works well with my hair. I've tried Head & Shoulders (even the more expensive H&S Intense Solutions), Selson Blue, & now T/Gel (has stinky tar in it), and I'm still itching/scratching at night :(

Treat her scalp with olive oil and et it set for a while, you can even cover it and and let her sleep with it in her hair over night. Wash lastter with Mild shampoo and warm water.

Arbonne has child skin care products that are botanically based and do not contain mineral oil (by-product of crude oil), animal products (no need for artificial dyes, perfumes or large amounts of preservatives-all can cause irritation or be toxic...even in small amounts). Be sure to look for products that are free of the things mentioned above, and that should help. Also, a baby oil (again not MINERAL oil based product) can be applied to the affected area and it will help loosen the scales off the scalp without injury. Hope that helps.

My daughter, who is almost four, has gone through pretty much the same thing since she was a pre-toddler. The pediatrician told us to use Selsum Blue and leave it on for five minutes before rinsing. That is the perfect amount of time for her, because I wash it at the beginning of her bath and by the time she ready to wash her body I rinse her hair. He also gave us a topical steroid cream for the spots that were really bad. However she has not had the hair loss part, except for where her 10 month old brother pulls it out on accident! Anyway, I hope this helps!

Take her to the dermatologist! Don't try to handle this one on your own. My little boy had ringworm of the scalp and we fought with it for weeks before taking him to the dermatologist. Then it was almost a year of treatment before it was gone. Don't take a chance with your baby's hair, scalp, and health.....

I have a nephew that when he was little (about 3/4) he had the same thing. His whole head was scaley and very ugly looking. I would on the times I had him wash his scalp with Pheisehex (spelling?)It would be very red and at times slightly bleed. Lather up the Pheisehex soap real good and gently scrub using your fingers. Try and loosen what you can and brush or comb her hair with the soap still in. Combing is better but brushing may need to done the first few times. Try this 2 to 3 times a week. Take your time while doing so. The soap has healing and soothing agents in it. On occassions when you can put old!! sheets on the bed (maybe even a protective sheet under it) after washing the hair and combing well and rinsing real good rub some baby oil in her hair and rub scalp gently. Wash hair next morning to remove the oil. Be careful of perfumed shampoos while you do this it could sting after you have loosened the scruffies. Do not use cream rinses or other hair products either. Maybe a little leave in conditioner, but spray it on your hands and rub it in only on the hair NOT close to the scalp. It will take time but it will work. The hair will grow back and maybe thicker because you will be massaging the scalp regularly. Blood flow for hair growth is essential. I look forward to hearing results. Till Then. Mimi J P.S. He got his by playing with a puppy. He would walk around with the puppy on his head. Even though the puppy was pretty clean most of the time. That was the only thing different from the other kids, the puppy on his head.

I had a recurrence of cradle cap also with my thin haired little girl. What I did was at the beginning of her bath I wet her hair, then put baby oil on it. Let it soak during her bath, then rub the cradle cap area with a washcloth or with the cradle cap brush you can get at target, then shampoo out the babyoil (might take a few times). Repeat this every time you give her a bath and it will come out eventually without taking too much hair with it. I didn't put the oil on before the bath because it wouldn't come out with shampoo and she had greasy hair, which was almost as bad as the cradle cap (you can put baby powder on her hair once it is dry if it starts to look too oily). That is why I wet her hair first.

This sounds like psoriasis. You need to go to your pediatrician. If it's a bad case, they'll probably send you to a dermatologist. My son has it. But we've only seen 1 legion and scaly scalp. It's an autoimmune condition. We're using a prescription shampoo 2x a week and that's helped, but if she's losing hair, that sounds like a more advanced case and may need medication as well. I have a friend who suffered with it for years and tried many different medications until the right one finally helped her. Good news is that once she found the right medication for her, her hair grew back in thick.

Try Neutragena body oil. Massage her scalp with a small amount for a few minutes then wash her hair as usual. I have used this to get rid of dandruff and it might work for cradle cap. If it doesn't work,try castor oil. Castor oil will improve circulation.

Recently spoke with a cosmo person and they suggested that you use Dove shampoo for children instead of baby shampoo or other products. The other shampoos leave a waxy build up on the hair. Maybe you should consult your physician if this does not work. Years ago one of my children had this problem and I saturated her head with baby oil. It worked, but not sure if it will work for you.

Check out Arbonne Baby Care (ABC) products ... if you use the ABC Hair & Body wash on your children you won't have to worry about yucky build up stuff on their sclaps ... the products are pure, safe and beneficial and they have been pediatrician & dermatologist tested...
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My dr. gave me a foam (perscription) for my son's cradle cap when he was three months old and it helped. Give your dr. a call. Unfortunately, it was quite expensive but it helped. I also used oil to loosen it up but the hair often came out too just like you described. A friend of mine said that there is a shampoo out especially for cradle cap at Baby's R Us. Good luck.

We had similar problem with my three year old. Our pediatrician told us to try Selsun Blue, and we did that for a while, but it didn't really work. One of my friends, a mother of four, said that she had encountered this, and she suggested using Baby lotion on the scaly patches after we washed my daughter's hair. She said to comb it into the scalp and use the comb to loosen it up until it flaked out of her hair. Then dry her hair, like we had used the lotion as a leave-in conditioner. We did as she suggested and it worked; we've had only a couple of small patches since then, and use the same lotion treatment to get rid of it.

My daughter's scalp is the same way and she is 2 and a couple of months, my pediatrician told me to take johnson baby shampoo and massage it into her scalp and then take a baby brush, the soft one with the fine brissels, and brush her hair out with the shampoo still in it and let it set for a couple of min. It seems to be working for me

take her to dermatologist and have this checked out

Hi, I have a 7 year old son who has the same thing. I recognized it as seborrheic dermatitis (seborrhea) because my younger brother had it as a little boy. It went away as he got older, but it seemed the more we picked at it, the more it spread, and his hair would come out with it (just hair follicles that were attached to the thick piece of crust I was trying to get off of his scalp). Same thing with my son. I noticed it in one small area on his scalp, and later I found it in two other small areas. I have used Neutrogena T/Gel on his patches of seborrhea twice, but it smells REALLY bad and I don't like it. I don't know if you could use it for a 3 year old. I would suggest going to a dermatologist (because it is a skin (scalp) issue)to get a definitive answer about what it is first. I hope this helps!

When my daughter had cradle cap her doctor told me to use Selson Blue dandruff shampoo. Worked lke a charm! I would also use a comb while she was in the tub and had the shampoo in her hair to break as much of the scaley skin loose so I could rinse it out. If it is thick and scaley it may take several washings to start to see a difference.


It does indeed sound like sebhorreic dermatitis. This is when the oil glands in the skin of the scalp (which are closely linked to the hair follicles) overproduce sebum, or skin oil. The surplus then causes a minor irritation of the skin.

Doctors usually prescribe Selsun Blue or Nizoral.

My daughter (3 years old) and I both have it from time to time. Including fish oil in our diets has really helped to get it down to next to nothing. A topical application of aloe vera gel is also helpful, and eating a diet high in B vitamins also helps eliminate the problem.

try putting a little vaaseline or baby oil on the cradlecap and leave it there for a few min. then take a baby brush or washcloth and very gently rub it. may take a few times to do it.

This exact same thing has recently happened to my 2.9 year old son. He now has a bald spot on top of his head. Wondering how your daughters scalp is and if you have any suggestions.

I would take her immediately to your pediatrician or to a dermatologist this sounds more like psoriasis than mere cradel cap... it could also be severe eczema (spelling?)... I get this same gunk on my scalp and its exczema... my mother has severe psoriasis and does the same thing you jsut described.... her hair is very thin and will come out if she scratches part fo her scalp that is tainted like you described... my hair doesnt fall out when i get teh scaly stuff... it is more topical than down deep like psoriasis... please get this cleheck out ... cause left un treated, it can spread rapidly.... there is NO cure for psoriasis unfortunatle but it can be treated... one of the best things we ever did for my mom was to take olive oil and to saturate her head with it, then take a plastic cap like you use for a perm processing on hair and covering it up with that... then she let it set like that ALL NIGHT LONG... the next morning we would wash her hair with her favorite shampoo to get the goop out of her hair and then top it off with selsum blue after allt eh sclaes and stuff were off... the selsum blue helped keep the scales from coming back so thickly... then she would use pantium pro 23 leave in hair conditioner on her hair... it has lots of vitamin B's in it... she hardly has a problem with scalies any more... but to get rid fo that first round of gunk is a bear... I hope I never get it that bad... I been noticing a bunch of spots on the sides fo my head here lately and I wear my hair SHORT SHORT SHORT... so it is noticable when I get a patch of it... hope this helped... Good luck!!!!

H. K

My 1 year old had scaly, cradle cap like scalp. However, clumps of hair didn't fall out. I used Head and Shoulders Dry Scalp shampoo on him every other day, and it cleared up. There is also a steroid cream that we use for eczema that can be put on the scalp. It's prescription - Locoid Lipocream.

Sounds like a trip to the dermatologist is in order. This could be something as simple as an allergic reaction to her shamphoo to something as serious as scorisis. I would not delay as early treatment is the best option. Your pediatrician may not be up to the minute on skin conditions as this is very specialized. Good luck put don't put it off. See a physcician to be certain all is well.

I used to put baby oil on my daughter's head when she had cradle cap. I would apply it with a cotton ball after each bath and it started to go away within a week or two. Hope this helps.

I'd take her to a dermatologist. There are some types of scalp conditions (my son was born with something similar) that, although likely benign now, can turn into something more threatening to her health if they go untreated. A dermatologist would be able correctly diagnose and treat if needed, and suggest a good topical lotion or shampoo otherwise.
In the mean time, you can use Cortizone cream. It can help alleviate inflammation and dryness. We were told to do this with my son's scalp.
Good luck!

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