Cradle cap causes

There is no single cause of cradle cap but there are several factors which contribute to this skin condition. These include:

  • Over-active sebaceous glands in the scalp: these release sebum (oil) into the skin which provides a sticky surface for dead skin cells. This over-production of sebum and dead skin cells stick to the scalp which prevents these cells from drying out and falling off. This can be the result of the presence of the mother’s hormones within the baby which are retained several weeks after birth. These hormones can trigger this over-production of sebum.
  • Genetic: many babies who develop cradle cap are from families who have a history of allergies, e.g. eczema.
  • Imbalance of omega 3 fatty acids: babies with cradle cap often have insufficient levels of these essential fatty acids. These fatty acids are important for healthy skin.
  • Shampooing: infrequent shampooing can lead to a build up of dead skin cells and sebum which cause cradle cap.
  • Yeast: there is a type of yeast called ‘Malassezia furfur’ which naturally occurs on the skin. This yeast is particularly prevalent in people who have developed seborrhoeic dermatitis. This may be due to a reduced resistance to this infection.
  • Vitamin H (biotin) deficiency: it has suggested that low levels of Vitamin H or ‘Biotin’ is responsible for cradle cap. This vitamin is part of the Vitamin B group and is vital for healthy hair and skin. This deficiency affects few babies and can be treated with supplementation.

Cradle cap is NOT caused by allergies or poor hygiene.

The next section discusses the symptoms of cradle cap in more detail.

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