Cradle cap is a harmless skin condition that's common in babies. It usually clears up on its own within 6 to 12 months, 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.
The cause of cradle cap is not clear, but it cannot be caught from other babies.
Things you can do to help with cradle cap
lightly massage an emollient (moisturiser) on to your baby's scalp to help loosen the scales
gently brush your baby's scalp with a soft brush and then wash it with baby shampoo
do not use olive oil – it may not be suitable for use on skin
do not use peanut oil (because of the allergy risk)
do not use soap or adult shampoos
do not pick crusts – this can increase the risk of infection
Your baby's hair may come away with the scales. Do not worry if this happens as it will soon grow back.
A pharmacist can help with cradle cap
You can ask a pharmacist about:
- an emollient you can use on your baby's scalp
- unperfumed baby shampoos
- barrier creams to use on your baby's nappy area, if needed
Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:
- your baby's cradle cap does not get better after a few weeks of treatment
- your baby has cradle cap all over their body
- the crusts bleed or leak fluid
- the affected areas look swollen
Page last reviewed: 21 April 2022
Next review due: 21 April 2025