How can I treat my baby's cradle cap? Skin Care

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Up-close shot of baby's head and hair.
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Parents will try just about anything to get rid of pesky flakes on baby's scalp. But not every remedy out there is safe or effective. See what a pediatrician and other moms say cleared up their baby's cradle cap -- and of course, check with your baby's doctor before trying it.

Depends on the Severity

"For very mild cradle cap, you can use a soft baby brush or comb and physically brush it out. For significantly crusted-on cradle cap, you need to see the pediatrician and get a prescription. There's a prescription shampoo, similar to a Selsun Blue, that we use for cradle cap. It works and is easy to use and is covered by nearly all insurances, so it's worth it. Some parents try oils and stuff -- many are totally harmless and that’s fine but some kids will have adverse reactions, and then...

"For very mild cradle cap, you can use a soft baby brush or comb and physically brush it out. For significantly crusted-on cradle cap, you need to see the pediatrician and get a prescription. There's a prescription shampoo, similar to a Selsun Blue, that we use for cradle cap. It works and is easy to use and is covered by nearly all insurances, so it's worth it. Some parents try oils and stuff -- many are totally harmless and that’s fine but some kids will have adverse reactions, and then you'll have two problems instead of one. Proceed with caution." -- Christina Johns, MD, MEd, FAAP, senior medical advisor, PM Pediatrics, Lake Success, NY

Coconut Oil Massage

"At bathtime, I rubbed a palmful (a little more than a heaping tablespoon) of coconut oil into my baby's scalp. I massaged it in and let it sit for 15 minutes. Next I combed, with a fine tooth baby comb, all the flakes out. Then I washed it out. I also massaged coconut oil into his forehead and ears, where he had some slight signs of cradle cap too."

Baby Oil

"I put baby oil on my baby's head, left it on for about an hour, then washed his head with a gentle shampoo. Then I dried his head carefully and applied an unscented lotion. I did this daily until his cradle cap was gone."

Special Shampoo

"I'm currently using dandruff shampoo on my daughter who has a mild case. For my oldest son, our doctor prescribed medicated shampoo."

Breast Milk

"I used breast milk. I let it sit for a couple of minutes on the scalp, then used a gentle shampoo. I used a soft brush, then applied coconut oil."

Homemade Scrub

"I mixed coconut oil and baking soda. Make it a paste and massage it into the hair/scalp,then comb with a baby comb. Then rinse and shampoo like normal with baby soap. It cleared it up after a couple of times!"

OTC Wash

"I used an over-the-counter cradle cap shampoo and massaged her hair and used a soft brush to gently brush it off. It worked in less than three days."

Olive Oil

"I would massage extra virgin olive oil into the scalp, let it sit for an hour, brush in gentle circular motions with a soft bristle brush, leave overnight, wash the next morning, brush again in gentle circular motions with a soft bristle brush, then moisturize with breast milk."

Use a Toothbrush

"I rubbed coconut oil on my child's head and then gently scrubbed with a toothbrush. The toothbrush and oil helped loosen the flakes, and then I washed it all off with warm water. It worked like a charm and was completely painless!"

Vaseline May Work for Some

"With my daughter I used Vaseline. Put it on her head, let it sit, and took a washcloth and wiped it off. With my son I tried Vaseline, lotions, coconut oil. Nothing worked so I had to get the cradle cap shampoo."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.