Today I want to talk about an issue I’ve had with my babies: finding a natural remedy for cradle cap.

A reader sent the following question:

My grandson is 3 months old and has had what we thought was the worst cradle cap I have ever seen. Now I am not sure it is cradle cap. His whole body is scaly and rough. The top of his head feels like a pine cone. His mother has tried everything from olive oil, coconut oil and she is getting ready to try calendula. Have you had any experiences with this that you could share? 

I feel your pain!  I am well acquainted with the frustration of “skin issues” with little ones.  Not fun!   

All four of our babies suffered with cradle cap, dry skin, eczema, diaper rashes, etc, to varying degrees.  Our youngest baby boy had the most pronounced skin issues (including terrible baby “acne”).  As a newborn, his scalp was completely covered in “cradle cap”- you couldn’t even see his skin for all the “flakes”!  

At five months old, his cradle cap is gone but his skin is dry and prone to eczema rashes.    

Speaking for our own family, I feel that skin “issues” are symptomatic of food and/or environmental intolerances, allergies and reactions.  I’ve been able to “control” our family’s skin allergies, for the most part, by eliminating household toxins and adhering to a pretty strict food diet in order to keep our digestive tracts healthy.  

It’s been a learning process, especially since both our boys’ allergies are quite severe and their symptoms are reoccurring.  (We had a bout with hives last week when our toddler ate a brownie made from wheat!)

I’m not in any place to hand out advice or a diagnosis (read my disclosure here).  

Simply from one mommy to another, here are some questions I ask myself when dealing with these issues: 

Could the rashes possibly be a reaction to a chemical ingredient in the home?  

Laundry detergents and softeners contain harsh ingredients and can be culprit in skin problems.  What about shampoos, baby soaps and lotions?  Many children (and even adults) are sensitive to the perfumes, dyes, and other chemicals added to household and body products.  Switching to all-natural laundry soap and bath wash was enough to clear up our oldest child’s dry skin and rashes.  (More on eczema treatment.) 

Are there food allergies or sensitivities that should be considered? 

If a particular food intolerance is prevalent in the family, a breastfeeding mother might try cutting that food (or food group) completely out of her diet for a while.  It takes about two or three weeks for foods to work their way out of the mother’s system (and out of her milk!), so give it a little time.  Wheat and cow’s milk are the “biggies” for our family.  I found it helpful to keep a food diary in order to track foods I ate with corresponding reactions in my baby.

While you attempt to pinpoint the cause of your little one’s trouble, here are a few ideas for relieving the symptoms:

Try to find a completely natural lotion.

One that is completely free of dyes, perfumes and chemicals would be most helpful. Over the years, Melaleuca’s “Renew” lotion has worked well for our children’s skin.  use it on our baby’s dry skin daily.  Lotion isn’t a “cure”, but it helps keep babies’ sweet little skin from getting so dry.    

I also use a herbal salve on any “break outs” of rash or dryness.  I make a simple salve with olive oil and plaintain- it works great on our son’s eczema.  You can order a similar salve here.  

Make a simple “rinse” for the cradle cap:

1 cup warm water

1 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1 tsp witch hazel  

Pour the mixture over baby’s scalp and gently rub.  

I found it necessary to use a soft baby brush or comb to loosen the cradle cap, then rinse again (sometimes repeatedly!) in order to keep Colton’s scalp problem under control.  The “recipe” is approximate; adjust it according to what seems to work best for your baby.  You can omit the witch hazel, if you don’t have any on hand.  

The How To Herb Book also recommends an aloe vera wash to cure cradle cap.  

If you feel that allergies might be the cause of your baby’s trouble, I recommend trying to find a good homeopath or natropathic doctor to help.  Controlling allergy symptoms is necessary, but it’s also important to help the body heal from the core out, otherwise symptoms will continue to manifest in other areas as the baby grows.    

Updated by Kristy in June 2017: 

The only suggestion I would add to this, now that my babies are all grown past the newborn maladies, is for Mama to eat a diet rich in omega fats.  If you are breastfeeding, be sure and add lots of those good fats to your diet every day: avocados, flax seed, chia seeds, almonds and coconut oil.

Once my babies were old enough for solid foods, I introduced them to avocados as a first food, and also gave them trace amounts of organic coconut oil and probiotics.

I believe that helping my babies’ guts to heal was one the biggest factors in healing their skin issues.  Do treat the symptoms topically, but focus on the gut healing through nutrition (both mom’s and baby’s) and ideally with homeopathic treatment, as well.

You might want to post your questions at Well Tell Me, a very active and informative forum.  I’ve learned a lot by just reading the threads on topics of interest.

Mamas, what works for you in relieving the symptoms of cradle cap?

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