Childhood Diseases

Updated 17 March 2016

Diagnosing cradle cap

A doctor would examine the baby's head after which an accurate diagnosis is made


Cradle cap also known as seborrhoeic dermatitis, can be diagnosed by examining the baby's head for the appearance of flakes or yellow greasy flakes.

It does not typically cause itching or distress to the baby however you may notice some hair loss around the affected area.

A medical diagnosis is not usually required and the baby can be treated at home in most cases.

Although cradle cap usually clears up on its own, the more extensive seborrhoeic dermatitis of infancy may require treatment.

Cradle cap can often be confused with other skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and nappy rash. If you are unsure, contact a doctor or pharmacist.

Read more: 

The causes of cradle cap

The symptoms of cradle cap

How to prevent cradle cap

Reviewed by Dr Rowan Dunkley, Paediatrician, Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Cape Town February 2015.

Previously reviewed by Prof Eugene Weinberg, Paediatrician, February 2011



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Prof Eugene Weinberg worked in the Paediatrics Department of the Red Cross Children’s Hospital for many years. He is presently a paediatric allergist at the Allergy Diagnostic Unit of the UCT Lung Institute in Mowbray.

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