Can Teenagers Have Cradle Cap?

Cradle cap is a common problem for newborns, whose scalps may develop a crusty and itchy rash during the first few months of life 5. Teenagers may experience similar symptoms as they enter puberty and oil-producing glands fire up again. There are several treatments available to teenagers wishing to rid themselves of the condition.

Can Teenagers Get Cradle Cap?

In the medical field, only babies are diagnosed with "cradle cap," says Dr. Greene, a primary care pediatric doctor 5. However, teens experience very similar symptoms typically diagnosed as "seborrheic dermatitis," according to the Mayo Clinic website 34. Many of the symptoms are the same -- redness; large, flaky scales; dandruff, and itchiness. These symptoms may be minor or they may be pronounced enough that a teenager feels stress or anxiety about it. If the condition does not improve with time or if it worsens, your teenager's doctor can provide guidance.


The causes of cradle cap or seborrheic dermatitis may not always be clear, advises the Mayo Clinic site 134. In teenagers, stress and a lack of sleep can play a role, as well as the time of year. Seborrheic dermatitis tends to be more severe when it appears in the winter 3. People who have other conditions, such as HIV or AIDS, Parkinson's disease or other neurological defects, may be more likely to have symptoms similar to cradle cap 5. Teenagers may also get scaly patches because of a fungal infection.


Doctors are most likely to suggest that teenagers use shampoos designed for dandruff, according to the Mayo Clinic site. These may include over-the-counter shampoos with ingredients like selenium sulfide, sulfur, tar or zinc pyrithione, say child development experts with the Kids Health website 2. A doctor may also prescribe more powerful shampoos, pills or creams if a teenager's flakes and scales do not improve. Your teen should follow his doctor's directions and the directions listed on any medication or shampoos to get the best effect.

More Information on Seborrheic Dermatitis

Though red, itchy scales may appear contagious, teenagers do not need to worry about passing this condition on to friends or family. As teenagers wait for shampoos or medications to work, a soft brush can be used to gently remove scales, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics 1. Teenagers may be able to prevent future cases of seborrheic dermatitis by frequently washing their hair with shampoo 3.

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