Cradle Cap

What is cradle cap?

Cradle cap is a common condition in newborns and babies. The most common symptom is a white or yellow crust on the scalp. This crust usually comes away in scales or flakes, and may cause the underlying hair to fall off as well. It is not painful or itchy and is not contagious. The treatment consists of washing and gently brushing the newborn's hair and scalp every day. Cradle cap usually gets better by itself after a few weeks or months.


The cause of cradle cap is uncertain. It is a mild form of dermatitis. It might be caused by high levels of the mothers hormones in the baby's body after birth, which cause the skin to produce extra oil which builds up as a crust or scale. It could also be caused by overgrowth of a fungus which normally lives on the skin. It is not caused by poor hygiene, allergies or a bacterial infection. Cradle cap is not contagious. This condition usually appears in the first weeks to months after birth.


Cradle cap is usually a thick, oily, yellow/white crust on the scalp. It can also appear on the ears, eyelids, eyebrows, nose, neck or groin. This crust usually comes away in scales or flakes and this may cause the underlying hair to fall out. The skin beneath the crust looks normal.


The diagnosis is usually made based on the appearance of the crust. Usually, no tests are needed to diagnose this condition.


Cradle cap usually goes away within a few months without specific treatment. Washing and gently brushing the the baby's hair and scalp helps to remove the scale. If the scale is persistent, a shampoo containing anti-fungal medication might be helpful.


Daily shampooing and brushing of the baby's hair could help to prevent cradle cap.

Other names for cradle cap

  • Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis
  • Neonatal seborrhoeic dermatitis
  • Milk crust
  • Crusta lactea
  • Honeycomb disease