How Cradle Cap Is Treated

Baby acne looks similar to the acne that many teenagers and adults have dealt with — hard red bumps that are surrounded by red, inflamed skin. These bumps are found on your baby’s skin and may develop white pustules (whiteheads), just like adolescent and adult acne.

Newborn acne appears before your child is six weeks of age. It typically clears up on its own within a few months, though most cases resolve sooner.

If your baby’s cradle cap isn’t helped with home remedies or is extensive, your pediatrician may recommend some over-the-counter (OTC) treatments. Don’t use these without first talking to a healthcare provider.

cradle cap before and after

How to treat cradle cap

Cradle Cap

This skin condition normally becomes visible within two to four weeks of your baby’s birth. That said, some newborns have acne when they’re born. It may also affect infants at any point during their first several months of life.

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If regular shampooing doesn’t help, your doctor may recommend a mild steroid cream or antifungal shampoo.

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes cradle cap. But they think rough patches may show up when oil glands in your baby’s skin make more oil than they need to. Doctors think the extra oil may cause dead skin cells to stick to the scalp. A type of yeast called malassezia may also play a part in the condition.

Can cradle cap look like acne medicine

5 Things You Need to Know About Cradle Cap

Above all, be patient. It can take weeks for your baby’s body to normalize and find a balance after the shock of birth. Eventually, the condition will clear up and your baby’s skin will be soft and smooth. Better yet, your baby won’t be uncomfortable in their own skin. That makes for better cuddle time, longer naps, and better feeding habits.

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11) Be Patient

Certain medications and viral illnesses also have the potential of causing an acne-like rash on your baby’s body. If your little one develops a rash or acne-like breakout after being sick or being exposed to a new medication, let your doctor know right away.

Stubborn or severe cases of cradle cap may need OTC topical steroids, anti-seborrheic shampoo, or prescription antifungal products. Infections are treated with antibiotics.

Treatment: Cradle cap is not harmful and will typically go away on its own by baby’s first birthday. It can be treated, by washing hair frequently with a mild baby shampoo and using a soft brush to remove the scales. Some doctors recommend a stronger, medicated shampoo or cortisone cream. These may remove the scales quickly but can be irritating to baby’s sensitive skin. Only use them after consulting a pediatrician.

Baby Acne: Causes, Prevention, And The Best Treatment Methods

10 Frequently Asked Questions about Cradle Cap

Seborrheic dermatitis is a noninfectious skin condition that’s very common in infants, usually beginning in the first weeks of life and slowly disappearing over a period of weeks or months. It is rarely uncomfortable or itchy.

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What is infant acne?

Unlike acne in adolescents and adults, infant acne requires no special treatment or medication. Clean the area daily with warm water, mild soap, and pat gently dry. Since baby acne is not caused by dirt, do not over wash the area, which can cause irritation. Since infant acne usually clears up within a few months, it is not cause for concern. However if the bumps look unusual, parents should mention the acne to their pediatrician to rule out other skin conditions.

Once you have a diagnosis, you should be able to treat your baby’s cradle cap at home.

Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) in Infants

Cradle Cap Remedies That Really Work | The Well by Northwell

It is not recommended to use baby oil or mineral oil on cradle cap. Doing so allows the scales to build up on the scalp, particularly over the fontanelle, or soft spot on baby’s head. Sometimes a yeast infection may form on the crease areas of the skin (rarely on the scalp.) If this happens, the area will be red and itchy. Seek the care of a pediatrician who may prescribe an anti-yeast cream.

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The thing to remember about these three skin conditions is that they just happen. Parents aren’t doing anything wrong when these conditions present, and there is usually no reason for nursing mothers to change their own diets.

How to get rid of cradle cap

Cradle Cap

Certain essential oils may be diluted and applied to the scalp to treat cradle cap, but speak to a healthcare provider to make sure this is safe for your child.

If you see your baby’s skin becoming more red and swollen, or if you see your little one rub the inflamed areas, it’s time to cover their hands with baby mittens or soft socks. This doesn’t have to be a permanent thing, and your baby doesn’t have to wear them all the time. It’s simply to give the acne time to heal.

Erythema toxicum is harmless, and it usually disappears in less than a week after birth. Baby acne, on the other hand, may not clear up on its own if left untreated.

How Cradle Cap Is Treated


Infant acne is harmless acne that is often caused by exposure to maternal hormones in utero. Many babies develop infant acne around a few weeks of age, and in most cases, the acne is gone before baby reaches six months. While we think of acne appearing most often on the face, it can also occur on baby’s chest or back.

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How Is Baby Acne Different From Other Skin Conditions?

The exact cause of cradle cap isn’t known. It’s likely due to a combination of things. Too much skin oil (sebum) in the oil glands and hair follicles and a type of yeast found on the skin called Malassezia may play roles in the development of seborrheic dermatitis.

Essential oils are the main type of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatment for cradle cap, but they should not be used on babies under 6 months old.

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