Does anyone in your family persistently suffer from a yellow crusty scalp known as cradle cap? Even though this skin condition is harmless, cradle cap can be a little unsightly and can sometimes be slightly raw and painful. In most cases it is relatively easy to clear, so read on to find my top tips on how to clear cradle cap naturally.
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What is cradle cap?
Cradle cap, also known as scalp Seborrheic Dermatitis, is an inflammatory scaley skin condition which usually occurs between the ages of 2 weeks and 12 months in babies. However, it can also easily affect older children and some adults and is closely related to dandruff.
It affects dermal areas that contain a lot of sebaceous glands such as head and skin folds. It presents as thick crusty yellow scaly patches, can be dry and flaky or oily and is usually on the scalp; but can also appear on the face. Sometimes it can become red raw and painful from scratching.
Although the exact cause of cradle cap in babies remains unknown, many cases boil down to hormones from the placenta passed from the mother to the baby before birth, causing an over production of oil (sebum) in the oil glands as well as the hair follicles.
Cradle cap can also be fungal in nature, and this skin condition is thought to flare up and proliferate due to an overreaction to a yeast called Malassezia on the scalp. This can present as cradle cap as well as dandruff.
Why do babies, children and adults get cradle cap?
A baby’s cradle cap is usually short lived, clearing up either on its own or with a specialist baby shampoo. It can however be more persistent, proving harder to clear, and may also appear later in childhood, and even again in adulthood. If it is not clearing when using the targeted topical approach, then this might reflect a more systemic yeast infection or gut dysbiosis (underlying imbalance in gut flora and microbiome).
What five things can you do naturally to help with cradle cap?
Try one of these options at a time.
- Additional topical support is my first recommendation, as cradle cap is usually reflective of a relatively uncomplicated skin-based yeast infection. My top tip is to thoroughly rub olive oil into the hair and scalp and let it soak overnight (cover the pillow with a towel to protect it from getting oily). In the morning, comb the hair well and the yellow crusty patches should come away easily, then wash down the sink. You will then need to wash the hair a few times to get all the oil out. Repeat weekly until it has cleared up. You can add a little drop of tea tree oil to the olive oil if the cradle cap is persistent, as this has additional natural anti-fungal properties.
- Probiotics – there is growing evidence to suggest that gut and skin health could be linked, and that optimising the diversity of the gut microbiome can play an important role in supporting skin health. If yeast overgrowth or dysbiosis is present, then probiotics are an easy effect way to help restore balance and bolster the beneficial bacteria in the microbiome. In older children and adults, you can also add in oral antifungal herbs such as garlic, oregano, grapefruit seed extract and caprylic acid.
- Some studies suggest that Omega-3 may help support overall skin health, benefiting those that suffer with skin conditions by reducing inflammation, improving skin barrier function, supporting cell membranes, and promoting skin healing. Babies already weaned onto solids, children and adults can consume omega-3 rich foods such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, ground walnuts, flax and chia seeds. If they are not that keen on eating these foods frequently, then consider taking a good quality omega-3 supplement which can be fish-based or marine algae-based, which is a vegan omega 3.
- A Biotin deficiency can present as skin complaints, poor blood glucose balancing and is common in people who are prone to yeast infections. This important B vitamin is often lacking in the diet and since it is water soluble (meaning your body cannot store it) it’s important to regularly eat foods which contain biotin such as eggs, peanuts, edamame beans, nuts, seeds, liver, and sweet potatoes. Breastfeeding mothers could also consider biotin supplementation, which would pass through the breastmilk into the baby, if the baby is too young to be weaned onto solid foods
- Indian research suggests Triphala significantly reduces sebum (oily/waxy substances) on the scalp f taken orally in the 14–50-year-old age bracket and this Ayurvedic herbal blend also helps with constipation. So, if cradle cap is persistent into the teen years or adulthood, then this is another option to consider.
I hope this is helpful, NatureDoc is always here for you to help you sort out the little health niggles in life, as well as the more complex health challenges.
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- Cradle Cap
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis in babies (cradle cap)
- Interventions for infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis (including cradle cap)
- Analysis of Cutaneous Bacterial Microbiota of Thai Patients with Seborrheic Dermatitis
- The impact of clinical nutrition on inflammatory skin diseases
- Microbiome Modulation as a Therapeutic Approach in Chronic Skin Diseases
- Effect of oral administration of Triphala, a polyphenol-rich prebiotic, on scalp sebum in patients with scalp seborrhea a randomized clinical trial
- Presence of Malassezia Hyphae Is Correlated with Pathogenesis of Seborrheic Dermatitis
- Health effects of probiotics on the skin
- Skin manifestations of biotin deficiency
- Cosmetic and Therapeutic Applications of Fish Oil’s Fatty Acids on the Skin