Treating Cradle Cap Naturally

Learn the signs of cradle cap and how your baby can heal from it with holistic care.

| August 2018

  • Cradle Cap is not necessarily painful or itchy for infants, but it can be harsh on their skin and lead to infection if untreated.
    Photo by Getty/staticnak1983
  • “The Holistic Baby Guide” by Randal Neustaedter, OMD, provides natural methods for the health of infants so that their new immune systems can be free of harmful medications and chemical products.
    Cover by Amy Shoup

The Holistic Baby Guide (New Harbinger Publications, 2010), by Randal Neustaedter, OMD, considers the sensitive care of infants and provides methods of holistic treatment for common health complications such as colds, digestive issues, and allergies. Neustaedter is a doctor of Chinese medicine and licensed acupuncturist with over thirty years of experience. The following excerpt outlines resolutions for cradle cap.

Cradle Cap

If your baby has dry flakes or unsightly yellow and oily scales on his scalp, you’re dealing with cradle cap. This is a harmless condition otherwise known as infantile seborrheic dermatitis. Regardless of its somewhat cute name, cradle cap can be annoying and persistent, even into the toddler years and beyond. The intuitive strategy of continually rubbing the cradle cap off your baby’s scalp is not usually effective. And, because it is already oily, the common practice of coating it with oil and trying to rub it off may make it even worse.

Treatment of Cradle Cap

Like other skin conditions in children (see Holistic Treatment for Babies with Eczema), a problem with conversion of essential fatty acids may have a role in cradle cap. One of these essential fatty acids, linoleic acid, may not be converted to gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) because of an enzyme deficiency. GLA is important for healthy skin function. There is some evidence that suggests a temporary deficiency of this enzyme is associated with cradle cap in infants, so supplementing babies with GLA is an important part of the treatment for cradle cap. GLA is available as a supplement in the form of borage-seed oil or evening primrose oil. Applying borage- seed oil directly to the scalp can also be beneficial.

Other external applications may help. In a study of patients with seborrheic dermatitis (the “grown-up” version of cradle cap) an extract of aloe vera applied to the scalp proved effective in relief of symptoms in 62 percent of the treatment group compared to improvement in only 25 percent of the control group, who used a placebo cream).



For breastfed babies, moms can try also try eliminating foods from their diet that may have a role in allergic reactions. One study found an improvement in infants’ cradle cap when their mothers eliminated allergenic foods (especially milk, wheat, and eggs) from their diets.

More from The Holistic Baby Guide:


Adapted from The Holistic Baby Guide: Alternative Care for Common Health Problems by Randall Neustaedter, copyright © 2010 by Randal Neustaedter. Used by permission of New Harbinger Publications, Inc.






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