We recently received an email from a mother who was worried about her baby having cradle cap and eczema. It turns out her baby was suffering from cradle cap and not eczema.
It’s a natural reaction to think your baby may have eczema when you see dried flakes of skin in their hair. But this could simply be cradle cap and not eczema.
Lets have a look at the differences and how to treat cradle cap.
What is cradle cap?
Cradle cap affects young babies and forms as red/brown crusty scales on their head. It starts on the head but can progress and spread to their face and diaper area. If this occurs it may be diagnosed by your Doctor or Gp as seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a noninfectious skin condition that’s very common in infants and babies. It usually starts in the first few weeks of their lives and slowly disappearing over a period of weeks or months.
Cradle cap is very common and should cause you no concerns at all. Cradle cap can start at birth and usually disappears before your childs first birthday. Many mothers worry about their child’s cradle cap and look for any way to treat and cure it. However, medical treatment is not called for.
Cradle cap and eczema can look very similar but the conditions are totally different. In this article, we will look at both symptoms and help you identify the differences. If you are unsure and worried about your child’s condition our advice would always be to seek medical advice from your Doctor or GP.
Our advice is given from experience, not medial training and should be taken as such. We have been treating and managing eczema in my family for over 200 Years starting back with my great grandmother and through to myself and my 3 children. One of my sons has very bad eczema and has received just about every form of eczema treatment known to man. So our advice on cradle cap and eczema has been gained from these experiences and shared to help others.
What’s the difference between cradle cap and eczema?
It’s easy to confuse cradle cap and eczema so don’t beat yourself up if you are worried or concerns, that’s natural as a new mum or dad. It’s always best to seek advice rather than risk leaving it and unconsciously making your child suffer for longer.
The symptoms of cradle cap and eczema may look similar but on close inspection, it’s easy to spot the differences. There are also historical facts that can help determine whether your child has cradle cap or eczema. For instance if eczema runs in your family the chances of your baby having it are increased.
Family history can have a big part to play in the diagnosis of eczema. It’s very rare to not have any form of eczema in your family then suddenly you give birth to a child that has the condition. We are not saying this is impossible, but there is usually a sign of eczema already in your family which is passed down from generation to generation.
Cradle cap is a build-up of natural oils and dry scaly skin. This forms a yellow & brown crust on your babies head, eyebrows or behind the ears. It is totally natural and easy to treat, treatment is not always needed and some parent choice to simply and naturally leave it to disappear naturally through washing and bathing.
Eczema is patches of red, dry and itchy skin on the face or behind the ears, and in the creases of the neck, knees, and elbows. The main issues with eczema in babies is the irresistible urge to scratch the itchy patches and the eczema can get infected as a result. This is the number one issue with eczema, therefore, most treatments involve trying to reduce the inflammation to reduce itching. Essential oils for babies are a good way to treat infant eczema we have included a link to our full review of this treatment for you. The number one rule for treating eczema is to moisturize and avoid irritants and foods that can cause flare-ups.
How do you treat cradle cap?
The good news for cradle cap is that the condition isn’t contagious, and it generally isn’t painful or itchy. Plus, it won’t leave any scars. Most people simply worry due to the appearance and the worry that it may be eczema and not cradle cap.
Treatment is simple and a natural approach is best.
Cradle cap comes from the production of too much oil (sebum) in the oil glands and hair follicles, trapping dead skin cells. Another reason may be Malassezia, which is a yeast fungus that grows in the sebum along with bacteria. The best way to prevent cradle cap is to wash your babies hair daily with a gentle and mild babies shampoo like CeraVe Baby Shampoo this will help prevent the build-up of oils and stop the scalp from becoming dry and scaly.
This process is the best way to treat and manage cradle cap. Don’t worry if in this process some hair falls out. It will grow back and is totally natural and will not leave any bald patches.
Brushing the excess skin from their head is very therapeutic for both mother and child. My wife loved to sit for hours taking all the bits of dead skin out from our sons head. It’s a good way to build that natural mother and child bond.
Sometimes the cradle cap can start to weep fluid and spread to your child’s face and neck area, again this isn’t anything to worry about but if you’re unsure then please seek medical advice to check that no bacteria has crept into the cracked skin. Again if it has, don’t worry this is easily treated.
Is cradle cap itchy?
Cradle cap if left untreated can become itchy if the dry scales build up which will make your child’s scalp inflamed and red/sore.
Baby eczema is very itchy and this is one of the main signs and differences between the two. Eczema is more red and sore and itchy and cradle cap is drier, flaky and not as itchy.
Cradle cap can become itchy if the skin is left and trapped in the hair. This is why most people brush the loose flakes out of their child’s hair.
What is infant eczema?
Infant eczema is red patches of dry and itchy skin. They are normally rough to touch and can become inflamed and raised.
Babies can suffer from infant eczema all over their body but it mainly affects their knees, joints, armpits and other sweaty areas of the body.
Eczema happens when the body makes too few fatty cells called ceramides. If you don’t have enough of them, your skin will lose water and become very dry. The treatment is to replace lost moisture daily.
Baby eczema is often confused with Atopic Dermatitis which is totally different. Baby and infant eczema often disappear without warning after a year or two. Treatment should be to moisturize their skin daily and remove any irritants like the ones listed below to help reduce the itchiness.
Wool and other hot materials, keep your child’s skin cool
Stress and tiredness
Soaps that change the skin’s natural pH
Some laundry detergents and washing powders. Try Bio Balls chemical-free washing
Cleaning solutions, including dish soap, disinfectants, or surface cleaners
Sprays and air fresheners
Chemicals like chlorine, mineral oil, or solvents
Dust or sand
Damp and mold
If you are worried about your child having any form or eczema then please visit our website where we have hundreds of helpful eczema articles written by us and other parents coping with this skin condition.
Cradle cap treatment
Keep it natural. Wash your babies head with a good quality baby shampoo that is sensitive and gentle. Our top 3 picks are listed below and we have included a link for these products from Amazon to make it easier for you to find. These are in no particular order of preference.
Follow the steps explained above and you will have no problem treating cradle cap.
The first thing to remember if your baby has cradle cap is not to panic! It is very common and easy to treat. Most parents you talk to will tell you their child had cradle cap of some shape or form. I don’t personally know any baby that didn’t have some form of cradle cap, even if it was just for a week or so.
Keep the treatment simple, apply oils overnight and wash off the next morning. Then dry and enjoy brushing out the dead skin and bond with your baby.
We hope you found this article helpful, please share if you do and help other parents manage their child cradle cap.
For parents-to-be who have a family history of eczema, you would do anything not to wish this condition onto your unborn child. Pregnant women can help prevent infant eczema with some changes to their diet during pregnancy.
If you have it yourself, you know the pain, irritation and physical stress of it, as well as the self-confidence challenges that you face, and you don’t want this for your child.
If you are a parent of a baby already with eczema, the last thing you need is another one (that’s not true at all, every baby is loved and greatly cherished, but if you could get one without eczema that would be great…)
But did you know that you can also eat to prevent your baby’s chances of getting eczema? Research is starting to show that this might be the case. And when you consider the alternative, adjusting your pregnancy diet to help prevent eczema in your infant seems like a small concession to make.
Why don’t you want your baby getting eczema?
I know that pregnant women have more than enough things to worry about. But research now indicates that up to 20% of infants suffer from it, so baby eczema is more predominant than any other affliction they could have.
This number is growing quickly and seems to have doubled over the last half-century. The true cause of the increase is unclear and experts speculate that the condition’s increase could be greatly affected by factors such as lifestyle, nutrition, and hygiene.
And while of course, it isn’t life-threatening, as we already know, it can be gut-wrenching to watch your little ones go through, as well as being exhausting to deal with from a parent’s perspective.
Cheeky little eczema rashes are hot, extremely itchy and uncomfortable. They can become painful, weeping, oozing, bleeding or even infected. For older children and adult sufferers, the visible nature of eczema can cause personal distress and lower self-confidence.
Families dealing with this condition can incredible experience stress trying to figure out what triggers it and easy ways to treat it.
As we discussed above, the exact causes of eczema are largely unknown. It is not known why someone will get it, or how to prevent it or cure it. One theory is that the condition is considered to be caused by an immune system dysfunction that can start when your baby is growing in your womb, that affects your baby’s skin barrier and its ability to hold in moisture.
Research is still new about whether you can adjust your diet while pregnant and either cause or reduce eczema in your baby, but certain things may help.
There is quite a lot of growing information that taking a probiotic supplement or boosting the foods you eat that contain live culture while you are pregnant may lower your infant’s chances of developing eczema.
The results of a recently published study found probiotics reduced the risk of infant eczema by a significant amount.
In this study, pregnant mothers who took probiotics during their third trimester reduced their baby’s risk of eczema by 29%.
In addition to this, breastfeeding mothers that took probiotics reduced their baby’s risk of eczema by 40%. When infants are given probiotics directly, their risk of developing the skin condition was reduced by 20%.
Experts are surmising that having poor gut health may affect your baby’s developing the immune system, and how your baby’s growing skin develops its ability to self-heal and moisturize. Therefore, in the same way, that probiotics can improve your tummy health, you may be able to eat to improve your baby’s developing tummy, and this is where probiotics may come in.
Probiotics are live cultures or good bacteria and yeast, or live microorganisms that have a range of great health benefits. Most readily found in yogurt and fermented foods, these good bacteria are prepared by bacterial fermentation, and work to combat the bad bacteria in your system.
Probiotics help to restore the proper balance of good bacteria. When we have a good balance of bacteria we reduce the risk of overall inflammation and sensitivities which reduces our risk of eczema. The balance can be thrown out when we eat poorly, drink a lot of alcohol or caffeine, and take prescription antibiotics.
Probiotic tablets for pregnant women
Probiotics are available in many foods, some of which we have listed below. But if you want to take an easy option you can get all the Probiotics you need in one easy to take capsule form which Is easy and safe to use during pregnancy. We found one of the most popular with great reviews on Youtube and Amazon is this one form HYPERBIOTICS
Hyperbiotics PRO-Moms Prenatal Probiotic
6 Targeted Probiotic Strains specifically chosen for the benefit they provide to pregnant and breastfeeding moms, such as supporting nutrient absorption, producing natural (non-synthetic) folate, improving the odds of successful breastfeeding, and promoting a healthy immune system for both mother and child:
Kiwifruit Powder is a whole food, superfruit ingredient, derived entirely from the New Zealand kiwifruit, that helps your probiotics colonize, and naturally supports regularity, a common concern during pregnancy. This nutritious ingredient is naturally comprised of prebiotics, polyphenols, a kiwi-unique enzyme called actinidin, and insoluble fiber.
Only Once per Day. That’s it. Because with time-release delivery, the full benefits are being delivered deep inside your gut hour by hour.
Long Shelf Life & No Refrigeration Necessary. With the patented LiveBac¨ manufacturing process, we offer a guaranteed, extended shelf life with zero refrigeration. Most probiotics don’t provide a date of any kind because their organisms die so quickly after being manufactured.
Natural Probiotic Supplement. At Hyperbiotics, we don’t believe in artificial. Our formulas are vegetarian, non-GMO, and free of lactose, gluten, and yeast. There is also no soy, sugar, iron, nuts, artificial flavors, artificial colors, or preservatives.
Yogurt is the primary source of probiotics through food in the Western diet. It’s made from milk that has been fermented by friendly bacteria, such as lactic acid bacteria and bifidobacteria. Yogurt boasts a wonderful range of health benefits including boosting the strength of your bones and teeth, lowering blood pressure, and fighting any nasty bugs that are lowering your immune system.
Not all yogurt contains live probiotics, and some are also heavy on the sugar, so read their labels before you buy. Look for yogurt products that contain active or live cultures.
Actually, a higher source of probiotics than yogurt, but not quite as popular in a Western diet is kefir. This is a fermented milk drink, whose name comes from the Turkish word for ‘feeling good’, and which brings with it some wonderful nutritional benefits. It is developed by adding cultures of lactic acid bacteria and yeast to cow’s or goat’s milk.
A delicious side dish in countries like Germany, sauerkraut often appears next to roast meat, or piled on top of a hot dog or sausage. This is made by finely shredding cabbage that has been fermented by lactic acid bacteria.
Make sure that when you are buying to look for unpasteurized sauerkraut.
When cheese is made the aging process used usually kills off all of the good bacteria, however in some cheese the live and active cultures remain. Cheeses which are high in probiotics include cheddar, mozzarella, gouda, and cottage cheese.
Pickled cucumber or gherkins are another source of probiotics, and also go really well with hot dogs, but look for those that are naturally pickled in just salted water.
Other cuisines also bring us some wonderful sources of probiotics, so this is as good an excuse as any to broaden your culinary horizons a bit. You might like to try:
Tempeh is a fermented soybean product, which has a nutty or earthy favor.
A spicy Korean dish made from fermented cabbage (much tastier than it sounds), which can be flavored with garlic, chili, ginger, and salt.
Miso is a Japanese seasoning, which is becoming increasingly popular in contemporary cooking. It is traditionally made by fermenting soybeans with saltand a fungus called koji.
Nutrient-rich miso can also be made by mixing soybeans with other ingredients, like barley, rice, and rye and is most commonly used in miso soup.
Can you eat to prevent or reduce infant eczema once your baby is born?
If your baby suffers from eczema you may be able to make some dietary changes to reduce the chances of a flare-up.
Your baby may be sensitive to certain proteins, such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk or soy, so if they are formula fed you could try different brands and see if this makes a difference.
If you are breastfeeding certain foods in your diet may make their eczema worse (such as nuts, gluten or eggs). It may help to pay attention to what you have eaten when flare-ups occur and try eliminating a single food group at a time for a few days and see if this has a positive effect. You can also see an allergist and get some clearer advice on this.
Studies show that continuing to take probiotics while you are breastfeeding may also help.
What is the effect of exclusive breastfeeding?
Trying to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months may also lower your baby’s chances of suffering from eczema, but the jury is still very much out on this. Exclusively breastfeeding will not prevent eczema, as my own experience with two eczema babies will attest.
Formula feeding or mixed feeding certainly does not cause eczema. But exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months can lower the number of allergens that your baby is exposed to, so this may help to some extent.