Cradle cap is a harmless skin condition that's common in babies. It usually clears up on its own, but there are things you can try to make it better.
Check if your baby has cradle cap
Cradle cap is not itchy or painful and does not bother your baby.
It's not clear what causes cradle cap. It cannot be caught from another baby.
Things you can try to get rid of cradle cap
wash your baby's hair regularly with mild, unperfumed baby shampoo and gently loosen flakes with a soft brush
gently rub on baby oil or vegetable oil to help soften the crusts
use baby oil, vegetable oil or petroleum jelly overnight and wash with baby shampoo in the morning
do not use olive oil – recent research has found it may not be suitable for use on skin
do not use peanut oil (because of the allergy risk)
do not use soap
do not use adult shampoos
do not pick crusts – this can cause an infection
Hair may come away with the flakes, but do not worry, your baby's hair will soon grow back.
You can ask a pharmacist:
- about cradle cap treatments
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- the cradle cap is all over your baby's body
- the crusts leak fluid or bleed
- the affected areas look swollen
- there's no improvement after a few weeks of treatment
Page last reviewed: 24 January 2019
Next review due: 24 January 2022