Seborrhoeic dermatitis in babies causes bad dandruff (cradle cap). It sometimes causes a rash on other areas of the skin. Treatment is not usually needed as it does not normally cause any discomfort and usually clears on its own.
What is seborrhoeic dermatitis?
Seborrhoeic dermatitis in babies is a type of skin inflammation which mainly affects the scalp and face. The exact cause of seborrhoeic dermatitis is not known. It is thought that babies who develop this condition may produce more sebum from the sebaceous glands in their skin. A type of fungal germ called Malassezia furfur (previously called Pityrosporum ovale) may also be involved. However, it is not just a simple skin infection and it is not contagious (you cannot catch this condition from others). The fungal germ lives in the sebum (oil) of human skin and some babies may react to the germ in some way which causes the skin inflammation.
Many babies have a mild form of this condition within the first six months of life, but it usually goes away on its own after a few months. In most children, it has cleared by the age of 12 to 24 months. It does not usually occur in older children. Some teenagers and adults have a related condition which causes bad dandruff and a rash. (See separate leaflet called Seborrhoeic Dermatitis of Adults.)
What are the symptoms of seborrhoeic dermatitis in babies?
- Cradle cap. This is areas of greasy, yellow, scaly patches on the scalp. In some cases a thick scaly layer covers the whole scalp. Over time the scales may become flaky and rub off easily. The condition is not usually itchy and, in most cases, the baby is not aware of any problem or discomfort.
- Rash. In addition to cradle cap, some affected babies develop a mild red rash on the eyebrows, on the skin next to their nose, or in the creases of the skin such as around the neck, behind the ears, in the armpits or behind the knees.
The condition most commonly develops around about three months of age, but can develop sooner. It tends to last a few weeks or months, and then goes.
For a list of websites that contain pictures of skin conditions including seborrhoeic dermatitis in babies (cradle cap), see www.patient.co.uk/showdoc/1097/
What is the treatment for seborrhoeic dermatitis in babies?
Treatment is not usually needed as the condition is usually mild, is not serious, and does not usually cause any discomfort to the baby. The condition will usually clear by itself eventually. However, the appearance of the scalp can be improved by daily washing with a baby shampoo followed by gentle brushing with a soft brush to loosen scales. Alternatively, soften the scales with baby oil first, followed by gentle brushing, then wash off with baby shampoo.
If needed, a medicated shampoo or an antifungal cream such as ketoconazole cream may be prescribed by your doctor. This will usually clear the rash. Sometimes, if inflammation is more severe, a mild steroid cream may be prescribed by your doctor.
Further reading & references
|Original Author: Dr Tim Kenny||Current Version: Dr Michelle Wright|
|Last Checked: 25/05/2011||Document ID: 4828 Version: 39||© EMIS|
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