How to tell the difference between cradle cap and eczema

April 9, 2016

It can take time for a newborn baby's skin to adapt to the new environment. In the meantime some babies can develop skin conditions like cradle cap and eczema as they adjust. But what's the difference between the two?

First off, both conditions can look unsightly; eczema appears red, blotchy and cracked but cradle cap looks more scaly and yellowish in colour.

Cradle cap tends to predominantly affect the scalp, although it can appear over the cheeks and forehead too. Eczema can appear anywhere on the body including the scalp and face.

The key difference between the two conditions is that eczema feels uncomfortable and itchy where as cradle cap doesn't. Of course your baby has no way of telling you that their skin feels painful but there are telltale signs you can look for. For example if your baby is very fussy and moving around a lot or trying to itch their face then they probably have eczema rather than cradle cap.

It's vital that you soothe itchy eczema because scratching dry patches can lead to soreness and infection but always use mild products on your baby's skin that won't exacerbate the itch. Gentle unscented cleansers and moisturisers formulated for babies are ideal because the ingredients are hypoallergenic.

Because cradle cap doesn't pose any health risk to your baby you can allow it to run its course naturally. However, you can also apply a moisturising scalp oil to soften the scaly patches and remove them with a soft comb.

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