Cradle Cap

Why Does Cradle Cap Smell? The Surprising Science Behind Baby’s Scalp Odor

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Babies are sweet and cuddly and perfect 99% of the time, but whenever something goes wrong, the result can be just plain icky. One condition that comes with the territory is the cradle cap.

A cradle cap is an accumulation of skin cells on a baby’s scalp. It can be itchy or just messy to look at, but it’s normal for newborns to have some flaky bits on their heads.

It’s all thanks to a common skin condition called seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is characterized by an overproduction of oil on the skin, which can lead to inflammation and scaling. While seborrheic dermatitis can occur at any age,

But why does cradle cap smell? Cradle cap most often has a cheesy smell, so let’s take a look at the root of that smell.

What causes the smell of the cradle cap?

The answer is simple: it’s coming from the baby’s hair follicles. A Baby’s skin is covered in tiny oil glands that produce natural oils in the skin. Sometimes, these oils cannot get to the hair follicles and build up on the skin. That makes cradle cap smell cheesy because the oils are being released from the follicles and trickling down or out-of-place hair shafts.

cradle Cap

Why does cradle cap smell bad?

But it’s not always a problem. The smell comes from the oils, which can be irritating to babies and adults. You’ll know if your baby has a cradle cap because the stuff smells like… well, you know. And since this stuff gets everywhere, store-bought “cradle cap” shampoo and conditioner aren’t going to do much for you or your baby in that department.

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What do you do about the cradle cap smell?

Since it’s not going away on its own and won’t seem to go away, you’ll be glad to know that there are some ways to get rid of it. The best way is to just not have the stuff in the first place. Make sure the baby’s hair is clean and combed and away from the scalp, except for where hair follicles are (you don’t need to brush or comb them).

A baby’s scalp isn’t necessarily sensitive if they have a cradle cap, but it can be itchy. If the baby has an oily scalp and areas of cradle cap, you might want to wash their head with a bit of baby oil. You can also try mixing a little bit of baby oil with water and washing the head that way.

cradle Cap

How to Get Rid of Cradle Cap Smell

If you’re concerned about the smell of your baby’s cradle cap, there are a few things you can do to help. Here are five tips to get rid of cradle cap smell.

– First, make sure you’re using a mild shampoo on your baby’s scalp. You may want to avoid using scented shampoos or soaps, as these can aggravate the skin and make the smell worse.

– Next, gently brush your baby’s scalp with a soft brush or comb to loosen any dried crusts. Be careful not to scratch or irritate the skin.

– Once the crusts are loosened, you can try using a medicated dandruff shampoo containing selenium sulfide or ketoconazole. These can help to get rid of the fungus that’s causing the problem.

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– If the cradle cap is particularly bad, your doctor may prescribe a corticosteroid cream or lotion to help clear it up.

– Finally, make sure you’re washing your baby’s bedding and clothing regularly. Any build-up of sweat or oil can make the smell worse.

Wash Baby’s Hair Twice a Day with Baby Shampoo & Conditioner

Wash baby’s hair twice. Gently wash your baby’s hair with mild baby shampoo, twice daily. Baby shampoo is gentle and doesn’t contain oils or conditioners as adult shampoos do. Although baby shampoo doesn’t contain surfactants, it does contain other ingredients that bring the pH of the scalp to the right balance.

TIP: If your baby’s skin is extra sensitive after being bathed, use a very mild baby cleanser instead of a baby shampoo.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to wash a baby’s hair. Give your baby’s hair a gentle scrub with your hands or an attachment of your bath toys. Be sure to thoroughly rinse the head with water and pat dry.

TIP: Also, make sure that there is no soap residue on the baby’s scalp. Use some water to get rid of any soap or shampoo left-over on the scalp (it shouldn’t take too much if you’ve used only a mild cleanser).

Get Rid of Cradle Cap With Baby Oil

Warm baby oil is perhaps the most effective way of getting rid of the cradle cap. A mixture of baby oil with water also allows for absorption of the oils into the skin, helping to loosen any scales on the baby’s head.

TIP: After giving the head a warm water bath, apply a mixture of baby oil and water to the scalp. Use a clean toothbrush to work the mixture into the scalp. Make sure to get rid of cradle cap scales from the baby’s hairline as well. You might want to invest in a baby comb or a soft brush for this purpose.

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TIP: Baby’s scalps are very sensitive, so be gentle and don’t rub too hard when brushing out cradle cap scales.

Cradle Cap

Get Rid of Cradle Cap With Humidity & Warm Water

Wet your baby’s hair and put the head in warm water. The warm water will get rid of the cradle cap by loosening the flaky skin on your baby’s scalp.

TIP: The best time to do this is right after washing the baby’s hair with shampoo or baby oil. This way, the oils and surfactants in the shampoo or baby oil will help make the scales of the cradle cap come loose.

TIP: Also make sure that you get your baby’s whole head while doing this. Baby’s heads are now getting dry and there is a good chance cradle cap scales can stick to the scalp.


And there you have it. A few simple steps that will help you get rid of a smelly problem on your baby’s head. If you don’t want to get rid of the smell, simply make sure the hair is clean, dry, and in good condition. Just be careful not to use too much shampoo or baby oil on the scalp. There’s no need to go crazy trying to get rid of the cradle cap smell as it’s not harmful and only a nuisance for you and your baby.