If you notice white or yellow flaky, scaly patches on your baby's head, don't panic. Cradle cap isn't the cutest thing in the world, but it's certainly nothing that you should worry about too much. In fact, cradle cap is relatively common among babies, especially in the first few months.
The exact causes of cradle cap are unknown, but some doctors believe that hormones from the mother at the end of her pregnancy cause her baby's oil glands to become overactive after birth. Other doctors think that genetics and natural bacteria on the skin play a role in the development of cradle cap. Whatever the cause, it isn't a sign of neglect, poor hygiene, allergies or illness, and it isn't contagious.
Cradle cap can vary in its severity. While some babies look like they have dry skin or dandruff on their scalp, others develop thick patches of oily, yellow flakes. There may be some redness, too. You might even notice the same condition on other areas of your baby's body, like around the ears and eyebrows or in the armpits and groin.
The good news is that, although you might find cradle cap unsightly, your baby most likely doesn't notice it. Aside from some mild itchiness, there's no evidence to suggest that it bothers your baby at all.
Now that you know what cradle cap looks like, you might want to know how to treat it. Keep reading to find out how you can use oil to remove your baby's excess oil (strange, huh?) and why adult dandruff shampoo is not OK to use on your baby's scalp.