Cradle cap and eczema are two common skin conditions that can affect babies. And while their effects and treatment are different, it can be difficult to tell them apart. If you've noticed patches of dry or scaly skin on your baby, cradle cap and eczema are the most likely causes – but which one is it?
Why Are They Mistaken For Each Other?
Both cradle cap and eczema cause dry, flaky skin. Cradle cap usually shows up on the scalp; although, it can affect other areas. Eczema also often appears on the scalp as well as the forehead and cheeks. They can both produce scaly spots, as well. All this can make it tricky for people without dermatological training to tell which is which.
How Can You Tell Them Apart?
One of the best ways to tell cradle cap and eczema apart is whether or not the affected area is itchy; while eczema causes itchiness, cradle cap usually doesn't. Of course, you can't ask your baby whether or not their scalp itches. Instead, you have to watch their behavior. A baby with eczema will try to rub the affected area against their bedding, for instance, to relieve the itchiness. Babies with cradle cap generally don't show any reaction to it as it causes no discomfort.
How Does Their Treatment Differ?
Because cradle cap is not irritating and usually clears up on its own within a year, there's not much you need to do to treat cradle cap. While there are plenty of home remedies out there, it's enough to make sure that you shampoo your baby's head frequently and rinse it thoroughly to prevent any irritation. However, if you notice the areas of scaly skin thickening or spreading, or your baby begins to seem irritated, you should make an appointment with a doctor; while rare, severe cases of cradle cap can cause the skin to crack, giving an opening for infections.
Eczema, on the other hand, is best treated with the help of a dermatologist. Like cradle cap, it often goes away as a baby gets older. But because it causes itchiness, it's possible for a baby to damage their skin through excessive rubbing or scratching. This damaged skin also creates an opening for other infections. By treating the inflammation and irritation of your baby's eczema with medicine or prescription topical ointments, the itchiness can be relieved. In addition, switching to soaps and shampoos that are labeled "gentle" and are free from dyes and fragrances can help prevent further irritation. For more information, contact a professional such as Henry E. Wiley, III, M.D.Share
31 July 2015
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