Like many babies, Pip’s hair has been falling out and new “baby” hair is sprouting up to replace it. This is mostly happening at the front of his head, leading to a charming mullet effect as it is still comparatively long and luxurious at the back.
I initially thought his hair was changing from brown to blonde. I now realise, as the new hair is coming in thick and fast and unmistakeably brunette, the yellowness I’d seen is actually a spot of cradle cap!
Cradle cap, or seborrhoeic dermatitis to its friends, is scaly patches mostly found on a baby’s head, although it can also occur on other parts of the body. It’s fortunately completely harmless and according to the NHS it “does not usually itch or cause discomfort to the baby”. It is also a really common condition and most babies seem to get at least a small area of cradle cap at some point, usually during the first couple of months.
The suspected cause of cradle cap is the typically overactive sebaceous glands on a baby’s head, and Babycentre also blames our old friends the postnatal hormones!
I’d heard of cradle cap before, but what I wasn’t sure about was whether one should do something about it or just leave it.
Opinion on this seems to be mixed. The official NHS line seems to be leave it alone and it will clear up on its own – washing baby’s hair with a gentle shampoo should help stave off an excessive build up. As we wash Pip’s hair daily anyway, I reckon this is enough for us. You can also use a specially formulated shampoo called Dentinox which is suitable from birth.
If you want to take more action, you can gently massage oil (baby or natural olive) into the cradle cap, leave it for some time or overnight, then wash it off the next day along with hopefully most of the scales. It makes me nervous to mess with it too much though, if it’s going away eventually anyway, and as the NHS warns “it’s important not to pick at the scales as this may cause an infection.” Eww!
If you need to get your baby photo shoot ready, there is a rather strange video demonstrating the oil/brushing off method. I don’t think the baby’s scalp looks THAT much better at the end though so it may have been better just to leave it alone!