What Causes Cradle Cap in Babies and Adults?


What causes cradle cap? Do all babies get cradle cap? Does cradle cap cause hair loss? When a toddler has cradle cap on their scalp it may be a source of agony for the parents. By learning what causes cradle cap in children as well as what causes cradle cap in adults, we can take good care of the situation.

Causes of Cradle Cap

The causes of cradle cap are not clear. One thing though is certain. The condition is not caused by a lack of cleanliness or allergies.  The condition is also not infectious and not a sign of an infection. This though is attributed to the presence of over-reactive sebaceous glands. This is possible since there are many glands in the skin which produce sebum. These could be caused by a lot of things. There may be different things on what causes cradle cap.

What cause cradle cap in babies
What cause cradle cap in babies?

For some babies, cradle cap is caused by the fact that some hormones from their mothers’ body are retained for a number of weeks which could go up to several months. These hormones could make the sebaceous glands too active leading to production of excess sebum. This will cause dead skin cells to stick on the scalp as opposed to them falling off the skin like they should.

Another culprit for the formation of cradle cap is believed to be an irritation from yeast known as malassezia which feeds on sebum.

Does Cradle Cap Cause Hair Loss?

A common question among most people is; does cradle cap cause hair loss? Each baby is unique and so are different cases of cradle cap. As such, there may be differing symptoms of cradle cap in different children. In most cases, a baby with have some symptoms from the list below:

Cradle cap on baby face
Newborns are the most affected.
  • Crusts and thick plaques that are found on the scalp and which could at times extend to eyelids, ears, eyebrows and armpits.
  • Some oily or greasy patches of skin which could at times be covered with scales that are white or yellow in color.
  • dandruff

Where the cradle cap is severe, the skin may become itchy and red.  It is also possible to experience hair loss although this is only temporary as the hair tends to grow back as soon as the cradle cap grows back.

This condition is very common in newborns but could as well affect adults. While in some there may only be some small scales on specific parts of the scalp, others may have it affecting the whole head. In instances where a baby also suffers from eczema, it is possible to have cracked skin, itching and oozing of some yellow fluid.

In most cases this condition will disappear with time. However, there are interventions that can be made so as to ensure that the healing process is fastened. Although the condition may be unsightly, it is in no way uncomfortable to the kid.

What Causes Cradle Cap in Babies? (Toddlers and Infants)

Toddlers and infants are the most affected by cradle cap. This condition tends to appear in the first three months of birth and could last up to eight months. Contrary to popular belief, cradle cap is not as a result of allergies, bacterial infections or poor hygiene. This being the case, what causes cradle cap in babies?

There is no specified cause of cradle cap but doctors give two main hypotheses. These are fungal infections as well as an overactive sebaceous gland. The condition is inflammatory.

When it occurs as a result of fungal infection, this could be attributed to the effects of antibiotics that are administered to the mother before she delivers. It could also be related to any antibiotics that the infant receives in their first week of life. All these happen because antibiotics tend to kill both harmful and good bacteria. This causes people who are prone to fungal infections getting them after taking antibiotics. In babies, the scalp gets affected and appears as cradle cap.

A deficiency in biotin could be another cause of cradle cap. This is because it affects the biosynthesis of fatty acids. This could lead to overactive sebaceous glands on the infant’s skin. Since the mother’s hormones will still be in circulation after birth, there is release of excess sebum which makes dead skin cells that are shed to get stuck on the scalp as opposed to falling off.

Do All Babies Get Cradle Cap?

Do all babies get cradle cap? According to discussions forums on Mayoclinic.com, many but not all babies will get cradle cap. The severity of the condition will also tend to vary from one baby to another. While some get severe cases, others will only have a mild one which will clear very fast.

what causes cradle cap in adults
Beard can also have a cradle cap.

Although mostly caused by maternal hormones passed on to the baby before birth, there are other factors that could accelerate formation of cradle cap. These include cases where a baby has immunity problems, oily skin, stress or other skin disorders. The best way to deal with it is to ensure that we are ready for it and that we know how best to deal with it if it strikes.

What Causes Cradle Cap in Adults?

When it comes to what causes cradle cap in adults, there are many things that can be attributed to it. Some of these include:

  • Sebum: When the production of sebum on the scalp is too high, the result will be an oily scalp with dead skin stuck on it.
  • Yeast infection: Where one has an overproduction of malassezia globosa, it is likely that they will experience adult cradle cap.
  • Weak immune system: when one is stressed, fatigued, is sleep deprive, suffers immune suppression or are ill, they become more susceptible to cradle cap. They develop reduced resistance to yeast and easily get the skin condition. In such situations, inflammation may also be experienced.
  • Skin products: Using products that contain alcohol on the scalp could lead to the condition.
  • Disorders: These range from skin disorders such as eczema, and acne, obesity, neurologic conditions like parkinson’s disease.
  • Weather changes: The symptoms of cradle cap tend to flare up during winter and get better during summer