What causes seborrheic dermatitis?
The cause of cradle cap is unknown; however, the symptoms are the result of an overproduction of sebum that accounts for the location of the symptoms in areas rich in sebaceous glands. Areas that are rich in these glands include the scalp, face, perineum, neck and trunk. Though cradle cap is a term used when referring to the white scales of seborrheic dermatitis in infants, it can also present during adolescence. It is believed that hormones play a role in the presentation of seborrheic dermatitis.
One of the first measures that the health care provider may implement is reassuring the parents that this condition is usually self limiting and disappears within the first year. Education about this condition will reduce the fear and anxiety related to fear of the unknown. Next a differential diagnosis will be done to rule out other skin conditions. According to the American Pediatric Association, there are several recommendations for treatment starting with simple measures as keep the skin clean and dry.
The health care provider may recommend that the parent washes the baby’s hair with a mild shampoo, for more severe cases they may order a medicated shampoo to help to soften the dry areas and the use of a soft brush to remove the loose scales. Occasionally, the health care personnel may prescribe hydrocortisone cream to reduce itching and to soften and heal the problem area.
Occasionally, seborrheic dermatitis may be due to a yeast infection, and for these cases the health care provider may order specific creams and lotions. Parents should be educated about the potential of ingestion of these creams. Babies are in the oral phase and tend to put everything in their mouths. Since cradle cap may cause some amount of itching, the child could potentially scratch the area and transfer the medication to his or her mouth. Parents may be encouraged to place mittens on the baby’s hands to prevent ingestion of the topical medication.
Parents may express their concerns to health care providers about the potential of their future babies having this condition, since in some families this is a possibility. Parents can educate themselves by reading more about cradle cap on the KidsWorldMD website. Knowledge is powerful and give peace of mind.