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 'Cradle Cap'

Seborrhoeic dermatitis in infants

How to manage infant 'Cradle Cap' seborrhoeic dermatitis?

If the scalp is affected (the most common presentation) the parents can try simple measures:

  • Regular washing of the scalp with a baby shampoo, followed by gentle brushing with a soft brush to loosen scales and improve the condition of the skin.

  • Softening the scales with baby oil first, followed by gentle brushing, then washing off with baby shampoo.

  • Soaking the crusts overnight with white petroleum jelly or a slightly warmed vegetable or olive oil, and shampooing in the morning.

  • If these methods do not achieve softening, a greasy emollient or soap substitute, such as emulsifying ointment, can be used, which helps to remove the scales more easily.

  • Do not pick the scales off as this can cause an infection • Do not use peanut oil (because of the allergy risk) • Do not use olive oil as research has shown that it may not be suitable for babies’ skin and is linked with infections • Do not use adult shampoo or soap


Book a GP appointment if the above simple measures are not effective or: 

  • 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

  • Bleeding, leaking fluid and swelling could be signs of an infection or another condition like atopic eczema or scabies.

  • NICE advice : a topical imidazole cream (clotrimazole, econazole, or miconazole). The frequency of application and duration of treatment depends on the prescribed topical treatment: 

  • Clotrimazole 1% cream: apply 2–3 times daily.

  • Econazole 1% cream: apply twice daily.

  • Miconazole 2% cream: apply twice daily.

  • Treat until symptoms resolve. If symptoms persist longer than 4 weeks with treatment, seek specialist advice

National Health Service (NHS 2023)

Institute for Excellence in Health and Care (NICE) 1.3.2020 Guidelines : Seborrhoeic dermatitis - infants 

The recommendations to use clotrimazole, econazole, or miconazole cream are based on the British National Formulary [BNF 66, 2013] and the manufacturers' Summaries of Product Characteristics [ABPI Medicines Compendium, 2012aABPI Medicines Compendium, 2012bABPI Medicines Compendium, 2013c

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