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My 88-year-old mom has had cradle cap for 2 years after a lengthy hospital stay. The non-stop itching keeps her awake and is a constant source of misery. I've invested in many over-the-counter remedies and a prescription from the dermatologist, but nothing has helped for more than a day. Does anyone out there know what can be done to get rid of this?

If its like what babies have, use baby oil. Let it sit. Then you can use a brush gently or washcloth to get rid of the now moistened crust. Then wash her hair.
With babies, this happens because of not having enough hair to soak up oils.
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pch111 May 1, 2019
Thank you. I'm going to try to convince her to use the oil.
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Cradle Cap is known as Seborrheic Dermatitis.

The first treatments are topical, shampoos, creams, Rx topicals. There are other treatments, so my advice is to return to the dermatologist, and research online.

A few other diagnoses are similar to cradle cap. A biopsy can help with the diagnosis. It could be psoriasis, excema as well.
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pch111 May 1, 2019
I was wondering about that...
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Just a little warning regarding the use of oils to loosen the crust and scale...

As I mentioned earlier, sebum is dead skin cells but what differs it from dandruff and causes it to cling to the scalp vs. flaking - is the oil produced by the sebum glands in the scalp. Or I should say over produced - which is the root of the problem.

Sooo - back to the warning regarding using oil to loosen the built up sebum. If you use oil - any oil - although I’ve seen mineral oil recommended - but it is critical that the oil is well shampooed out. Otherwise your adding oil to what is already a problem created by the bodies own oil - to start with. As you massage an oil into the scalp - be sure to use the pads of your fingers - a firm but gentle massage is best. You do not want to use your fingernails - as tempting as that may be. And even if it feels good to scratch that itch - it can lead to infection with all that icky, germy crust.

Lastly, a rinse with apple cider vinegar once a week is good for keeping a healthy scalp ph level. Once the problem has been resolve, that is.
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We have battled this also...huge flaky dandruff-like patches. If she scratches too much, her head could bleed and the dandruff-like patches replaced with scabs. (It’s optimal to keep from opening the skin to avoid infection).

Olive Oil (on the scalp) has an unpleasant odor and is almost impossible to wash out. To get it completely out, you must use a “de-greaser” like dishwashing liquid, but then your hair becomes extremely dry and prone to tangling. Combing hurts. Mayo treatments are similar. doesn’t smell great.

Dandruff shampoos will relieve the itching and burning caused by seborrhea. (Selson Blue, Head and Shoulders, Nizoral). See which smells best to her. If she has any bad sores, white table sugar will stop the burning. Do not use sugar on her scalp if she is diabetic.

Follow the shampooing with a heavy application of inexpensive conditioner. Choose one with a fragrance that she enjoys. Before rinsing, first use a wide tooth comb, then use a lice comb, to remove the “dandruff.” Use gentle pressure as you comb through to the scalp, to remove the flakes and scabs. Wipe off the lice comb on a paper towel after each swipe. This will also feel good to her scalp, “Aahhhhh!” She will say. This will alleviate the itching. Repeat this daily for best results and the condition will improve greatly - may disappear completely! Her hair will be even more beautiful and shiny when you are done.

The most effective lice combs are available online. The “Nit Free Terminator” is great.

Put on soft music (surprise her with something from her era), make the treatment spa like and she will feel so loved and happy!
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NeedHelpWithMom May 3, 2019
Cute! I like the music idea, fun!
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This was a surprise to me, but I have just learned from a reputable source that cradle cap by itself is *not* itchy. So at the very least, then, it shouldn't be.

Has anyone taken a scraping and stuck it under a microscope?

The same source recommends:
" See a GP if:
the cradle cap is all over your baby's body
the crusts leak fluid or bleed
the affected areas look swollen
there's no improvement after a few weeks of treatment

These could be signs of an infection or another condition, like eczema or scabies."

Searching for information specific to the elderly, there is also this that you might like to have checked out:

"... if your cradle cap is caused by Malassezia fungus. The most well-known brand of antifungal shampoo is Nizoral, which you can purchase online. These shampoos contain an antifungal treatment known as ketoconazole."
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pch111 May 3, 2019
My mom lives in a retirement home and goes to the salon weekly. I know it isn't scabies. I find it very interesting that cradle cap isn't said to be itchy. I've been wondering if this is something different. I am going to have it biopsied.
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I wrote earlier,, I have also read that dermatitis, etc skin condition is caused by the inside of your body. She was probably on antibiotics. Antibiotics kill red cells in the body and can cause all sorts of problems, it takes two years for your body to become normal. A lady in here mentioned probiotics. She’s right even prebiotic. You must build her immunity up. Mushrooms, celery any root vegetable, beets are wonderful. Maybe even a little yogurt to eat and on the scalp. Really that will probably help. It sounds more like a thrush and that is caused by antibiotics.
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pch111 May 5, 2019
That is absolutely true. She was on megadoses of antibiotics. She is on probiotics and we watch her diet closely. Thank you for taking time to post. I appreciate it.
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Or olive oil or coconut oil, both very soothing, BUT- ONLY if you are able to wash her hair thoroughly after the oil has soaked in for a bit.
I find coconut oil to be amazingly healing and soothing, and if it were myself or someone whom I loved, I’d probably start with that first.
Possibly a fabric shower cap with most of the plastic removed could be helpful with containing the mess.
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pch111 May 1, 2019
I haven't been able to get her to do the oil. She has great hair and doesn't want to get it oily. I will tell her you recommended this. Maybe she'll listen to you!
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pch111 - I saw your reply that your mother doesn’t want to use oils as she has great hair.

Perhaps, if you let her know she will not keep her hair if she doesn’t get rid of the sebum build up.

The build up of sebum - essentially dead skin cells, more or less - will smother the hair follicles. Without air getting to the follicles - her hair will begin to fall out. Hair grows in three steps - new growth, existing hair then shedding. As it is - if the build up is bad, no new hair will sprout and she will continue to shed her existing hair. Eventually, she will become balding - patchy at best.

Oils are wonderful for hair. Ever try a mayonnaise mask? Smells funny but after it’s washed off you are left with the most beautiful, shining hair. The key - with any oils and/or conditioners is to be sure they get throughly washed out.

Which brings up - how did the build up get so bad in the first place? Is she like so many elders get - and becoming adverse to bathing? Maybe it’s time someone else takes over her shampooing, at least.

Once you get the condition cured - have her start to use a shampoo that is made to strip build up - at least once a week. There are a ton of them out there so you should probably research them for her and purchase the best one that matches her needs. Personally, I like one made by Neutrogena. I believe it’s called Clean. It’s clear and comes in a small square shaped plastic bottle.

Good of luck to you. Not a fun thing to have to deal with, huh? Oh, the never ending joys of being a caregiver!
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I would try head and shoulders and the neutrogena t-gel stuff for that. I have Seborrheic  dermatitis (adult version of cradle cap) and these work very well. If they don't work, go to a doctor and get a script for selsun selenium sulfide. I have that, too (I like a variety of items to use)and it works very well. You may want to get cortizone cream for the itching and the red bumps. This helps as well. I also use baking soda with shampoo in my hair-It keeps my hair silky soft and not so dry (my scalp condition doesn't let me use hair conditioner). Good luck.
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elaineSC May 3, 2019
Be sure it is the Clinical Strength Head and Shoulders in the dark navy bottle. That stuff works great! My husband uses it. The regular H&S did not but the Clinical sure did. Good stuff.
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You could try the same tried and true technique used for baby's cradle cap. Just make up a solution of baking soda and water and apply it to her scalp and let dry and then shampoo out. Using oils of any kind prior to this is just going to make the problem worse. I always would try to comb or brush out the dry soda solution prior to shampooing since that is what loosens and removes the cradle cap. After shampooing use a good conditioner maybe something with tree tea oil.
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