Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis)

An inflammatory scaling disease of the scalp, face and occasionally, other areas of the body

Greasy yellowish scales on the skull of infants, it can also appear in the eyebrows, around the nose and behind the ears. This may appear within the first month of life. Calendula and Plantain are appropriate for dry skin and to soothe heat and soreness. The form of topical application may be crucial as both herbs may be used as an ointment, cream, lotion or a wash. It may be necessary to experiment to see which suits the baby best. Oily preparations will help in to loosen the scales, but might cause discomfort through an insulation effect.

Ms. Riggs recommends both a wash of a strong decoction of Comfrey root and Slippery Elm ointment. The wash is a mucilaginous decoction that will soothe, moisturize and be an effective vulnerary. As an example of simple, effective and eminently clear herbal information, here are the `recipes’ given for a Comfrey rinse and Slippery Elm ointment:

1 quart of water

2 ounces cut, dried Comfrey root

  1. Put the water and Comfrey Root in a covered pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Simmer the root for 20 minutes.
  3. Strain out the root pieces and discard them. The remaining brew is dark brown, with a gummy, syrup like consistency.
  4. Cool the rinse to tepid before using. Refrigerate the rinse between procedures and warm it to skin temperature before each use. Discard any unused portion after 4 days.
Application: dip a washcloth in the warm rinse and gently pat it onto the infant’s scalp or dry skin area or bathe the scalp with the rinse after shampooing. Most infants enjoy this procedure as long as the rinse is warm and you proceed with gentleness and assurance. Let the rinse air-dry on the scalp. Perform this treatment once each night until the symptoms disappear, usually about 1 week to 10 days. If the cradle cap is severe or does not improve after 10 days of treatment, consult a physician.

Slippery Elm Ointment

Slippery Elm is useful for skin disorders of all kinds; when used in ointment form it is especially good for an infant’s dry, flaky skin or cradle cap. Olive oil & cocoa butter are also good skin-treating substances &give this ointment its consistency. This ointment is good in combination with the Comfrey rinse.

1/2 cup olive oil

3 Tablespoons powdered Slippery Elm Bark

2 Tablespoons cocoa butter

  1. Combine the olive oil and powdered Slippery Elm Bark in a cast-iron frying pan and gently fry for 5 minutes. Be careful not to let the oil or the herb burn.
  2. Add the cocoa butter.
  3. After the cocoa butter is completely melted, fry the mixture for an additional 10 minutes.
  4. Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with cheese cloth and discard the herbs.
  5. Pour the liquid ointment into a labeled, dated jar with a tight-fitting lid. Use a jar that is wide enough to insert 2 fingers into, such as a baby food jar or small olive jar.
  6. Refrigerate the oil until it is solid. The final ointment has a tan, opaque look and smells like cocoa butter. Once the ointment is solid, keep it near the infant’s changing table, away from heat. Discard any unused portion after 2 months.

Application: Gently rub the ointment into the flaky skin or scalp each time the infant is bathed or a diaper is changed, about 6 to 8 times each day. Most infants enjoy the applications and their skin usually starts to improve after 2 days. If the rash or cradle cap does not respond after 3 or 4 days of treatment or the condition spreads or gets worse, consult a physician.

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Written by David L. Hoffmann BSc Hons MNIMH

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