The Cure for Cradle Cap

***Note: I just figured out how to upload pictures in my posts… Which I have been wanting to do before posting about this. So Sorry if it’s picture-heavy. And they’re not pretty photos either, so reader beware.***

My first 3 babies were (are) carbon copies of each other (aside from the obvious difference of the first being a boy and the second and third being girls). They nursed well, packed on the pounds in an exponential fashion, and they met milestones as expected, with zero hitches. My first baby was easy, my girls are slightly higher maintenance, but nothing too bad (yet), but my fourth, fifth, and sixth babies have thrown a few curveballs my way… Nothing major, I’d still say they were “easy,” but we have had a few hiccups that I simply did not have to deal with during my first three go-arounds.

Ezekiel (baby #6) is currently six months old, and finally recovering from cradle cap that has plagued him for the past 3 months.

It was terrible. A thick scale-like ‘cap’ covered his scalp. It started out patchy, but it quickly spread to cover the entire top of his head (oddly not the sides).

At first, I tried the “cure” that worked with my previous 5 babies… Baby oil rubbed in after a bath. One time of this procedure had always worked before, but not so with Zeke. 

I am slightly interested in using essential oils, so I asked a more experienced friend what she suggested. Lavender oil, practically a cure-all in the world of oils, is a tried-and-true cradle cap cure for others, so I mixed some in coconut oil and slathered that mixture on Zeke’s head with a soft-bristled toothbrush.

For 3 weeks, I applied it at least once (sometimes twice) and what you may expect to happen happened: his poor little head would bleed where the soft bristled brush had brushed away the scaley skin. (Very very slight bleeding, but still nothing a mother likes to see her baby go through, much less be the one to cause such a thing to happen.) Not only was the lavender oil NOT working, but he started to lose what little hair he had; the skin on his head was getting too thick for the hair to come through.

At his 5 month check-up, with no discernable difference in the apperance of his cradle cap, his doctor prescribed a steroid cream. In general, I am not a fan of medicine, my disdain stems from how people turn to it unnecessarily before trying simpler, natural, cures… but since my “natural” cures weren’t working, now was the time to go for stronger stuff. I started applying that every morning, and the lavender oil every evening.

Olivia, who is 4 (child #3) would constantly be grossed out by Zeke having “skin on his head” (if I may interpret for you, she disliked the skin that seemed to be flaking off his head… I think she realizes everyone has skin covering their skull). It didn’t seem to bother him any, although there occasionally were scratches on his scalp, so maybe it did itch a bit…? He didn’t complain, at any rate; he’s the strong silent type. šŸ˜‰

After about a week of that, with still no relief from the cradle cap, I ditched the steroid (because why continue a medicine that clearly isn’t working?) and was ready to give up trying to cure it and hope he’d just grow out of it… But smart phones + boredom lead to random Google searches.

Finally! Trusty Google revealed the common cause of cradle cap: there is a build up of oil secreted in the hair follicles that were preventing the old skin cells from falling off. The cure was not what I expected: daily washing of the “hair” (which makes sense to me) followed by application of more oil (that seemed to me counter-intuitive, but who am I to question Google?). The washing would clear away the oil buildup, and the reapplication of oil would help prevent it from building up again… Or something. For fear of drying out his sensitive skin, I am not in the habit of daily bathing babies… One or two times a week is my standard, unless a diaper explosion or something else necessitates immediate bathing. But armed with baby lotion for his body and coconut oil/lavender oil for his head, I was willing to give it a try.

After two weeks of these daily baths, there is a discernable difference in what his head looks like. His hair is regrowing, and his scalp looks much healthier. I can’t imagine applying oil over longer hair (if he were older, as I read some cases with older toddlers), but at his age, this was just the treatment he needed! 

None of us are grossed out by his head anymore, the young kiddos can kiss his head without fear they’d catch whatever disease was on his head (because…kid-logic), his hair is regrowing soft and fuzzy, and he is still my happiest baby. 

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows. Matthew 10:30-31


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