Parenting Tip Ep 8: Treating Baby’s Dry Scalp (Cradle Cap)

Treating Baby's Cradle Cap

At some point, your baby may develop dry scalp known as cradle cap. It is characterised by dry flaky skin.

This is quite common in newborns, and actually will go away on its own. You can just leave it but most parents we know including ourselves, prefer to treat it.

However, let’s first understand what causes scalp dryness. The condition is caused by an overproduction of sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that keeps the skin moisturised. Overproduction of sebum usually occurs when there is too frequent washing by water or shampoo. 

Thus, it is not uncommon to hear of parents suggesting less frequent baths or using shampoo sparingly instead of making it daily. In less humid regions, it is probably okay to bath the baby on alternate days or even between longer intervals but if you are living in humid places like Singapore or Malaysia, it’s best to bath your baby daily but control each bath duration and the amount of shampoo.

For us, we are bathing our baby daily and each session does not go beyond 3 – 5 mins max. It’s also to prevent the baby from catching a cold. As for body and hair washing gel, we are using it once every 2/3 days and the amount is highly diluted to ensure it doesn’t harm the baby’s skin which is really sensitive. 

So these are ways to prevent dryness in scalp from accelerating. 

The treatment for dry scalp is to use some oil. You can use either olive oil or coconut oil meant for baby. After the bath, pour some of the oil onto your palms and gently rub it over the dry scalp area. You can then use a fine brush to comb over that area to help in removing the dry flaky skin. On their own, they will also come off but using this treatment method, it is smoother and baby scalp can recover faster.

Some parents enjoy using their fingers to scratch off the dry flaky skin. While that works, we strongly discourage it as your fingers carry dirt and can end up hurting the baby’s scalp which is still very soft, so try to resist using your fingers to scrap off those dry flaky skin.

So don’t worry if you see your baby developing dry scalp. It is a common occurrence and will go away. Using olive oil or coconut oil does help and is recommended.

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