Updated 29 March 2018

Symptoms of cradle cap

The most probable time a baby will suffer symptoms of cradle cap is when it is newborn

Symptoms of cradle cap include:

  • Mild cases: flaky, dry scales of skin on the scalp that look like dandruff.
  • More severe cases usually involve greasy yellow or reddish plaques or patches or crusting. In some cases, the areas involved may include the eyelids and eyebrows, the ears, skin creases, the forehead and in      the nappy area.
  • Generally the rash of seborrhoeic dermatitis does not itch, but, rarely, a yeast infection may cause this rash to itch. This occurs more commonly in the crease areas rather than on the scalp. 
  • In seborrhoeic dermatitis, the affected skin can become red and sometimes crack. Fortunately this is rare.

When to call a doctor

Call your doctor if:          

There is no improvement with frequent shampooing after a week.

  • You notice any redness or irritation and itching.
  • The rash spreads to the baby's face, neck and crease areas.
  • The scalp becomes painful and there is evidence of infection (fever, swelling, scales drain fluid or pus).

Read more:

What is cradle cap?

How to treat cradle cap

How cradle cap is diagnosed

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

Previously reviewed by Prof Eugene Weinberg, Paediatrician, February 2011