Cradle Cap in Toddlers

Cradle cap is a condition that is usually asymptomatic. Read on to know the causes of cradle cap in toddlers and the ways to deal with this condition...
Any mother is anxious at the time of her pregnancy. After a long wait of nine months and a few excruciatingly painful hours of labor, the doctor finally hands her a beautiful child. As the child grows, the mother tries and sees to it that everything is perfect in her child. Sometimes, there may be a formation of something known as a cradle cap. Also known as neonatal seborrhoeic dermatitis, this is a condition where there is the formation of yellowish patchy and scaly skin on the scalp. It is asymptomatic in nature and is mostly seen in the first three months, after which it fades away. But what if you see cradle cap in toddlers? What is one supposed to make of it? Let's find out...

What Causes Cradle Cap?
Although the exact cause of this condition is not known, it is said that this is not a bacterial infection of the scalp. Most doctors believe that this condition is brought on by overactive sebaceous glands on the scalp of the child. It may also be a fungal infection of the scalp. This could occur if the mother was on heavy antibiotic therapy during her pregnancy or it may also be due to the newborn being given antibiotics to fight off an infection. Due to this intake of antibiotics, a person may end up with a fungal infection. This condition may also be brought on by a deficiency of biotin, which is a hair vitamin.

This disease presents as a patch of yellowish skin which is scaly to touch. The skin on the scalp is sticky and the superficial cells of the skin may slough off, which may further add to the scaly appearance. The scalp may turn thick and red and irritated in some severe cases. There may even be the appearance of cracked and bleeding skin, which may become an inlet for infection which the baby may develop.

The treatment for cradle cap in infants is varied. Since this condition is mostly asymptomatic, one needn't worry about seeking active treatment to deal with it. You need to take extra care of the scalp to ensure that this condition does not spread nor become a seat for re-infection. So, be sure to wash the baby's hair with a shampoo that is mild in nature as one of the remedies. Gently scrub the scalp but do not be too harsh. Ask your pediatrician if it will be alright to use a medicated shampoo for your toddler and if he gives you the green light, then you can use this shampoo. To comb your toddlers hair, use a soft hair brush and be gentle while combing the hair, so that some of the flakes of skin also come off but do not try to forcibly tank them out. To prevent the chances of infection in this region, you can apply petroleum jelly to the scalp. If at all your pediatrician allows it, only then should you use steroid gels on the cradle cap.

So, now you know what is cradle cap and how to get rid of it. This is a harmless condition really and you do not need to fret too much over it. This condition quite often even resolves on its own and instances of cradle cap in older children is far less common. However, if at all the condition becomes symptomatic and leads to pain or bleeding, then you must contact your pediatrician immediately, so that he may tend to the condition.
By Dr. Sumaiya Khan
Published: 12/29/2010
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