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by Margeaux Baulch Klein
If your baby has developed cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis — the all-to-common condition in which dry scaly patches appear on their scalp, forehead, or body — there are many products you can use to reliably and safely manage flare-ups, but one of the best places to start is with shampoo. Besides being dermatologist- and/or pediatrician- backed, the best shampoos for cradle cap are free of common irritants, like fragrance and alcohol, and contain only gentle ingredients that will reduce flaking, redness, and other symptoms. For more intense cases, however, a medicated shampoo may be recommended.
Romper reached out to pediatrician Dr. Leah Alexander, MD, FAAP, a medical consultant forMomLovesBest, to learn more about shampoos for cradle cap. The good news, according to Dr. Alexander, is that most cases of mild "baby dandruff" are harmless and can be greatly improved with the use of gentle, no-tears shampoo that's labeled specifically for use on cradle cap.
However, if the level of scaling or crusting on your child's head starts to get thicker and more severe, there are more potent over-the-counter options that you can turn to. "For more persistent cases, or when seborrhea has spread to other parts of the body, I recommend washing the scalp with a pyrithione zinc 1% shampoo," she tells Romper. For reference, pyrithione zinc is an antibacterial agent that can help break down the rough, patchy from seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff (and is notably the star ingredient in the classic Head & Shoulders formula).
Beyond wash-off products, one other simple way to get rid of cradle cap is to get a soft baby brush that can help you gently massage and loosen flakes away. Finally, you can use a leave-on emollient or balm for extra conditioning.
Take a look below at the best cradle cap shampoos. And if an OTC product isn’t giving you the results you're looking for, remember to consult with your pediatrician about other options.