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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?

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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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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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I'm going to try to convince her. THANK 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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Olive oil. Massage a bit in scalp at night then was it out in the morning
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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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If what the doctor prescribed only worked for a day ( was that because she only used it once?) then you need to talk to the doctor.

There are prescription shampoos that treat this condition, but they need to be used regularly and generally in combination with a regular shampoo. If the active ingredient in the scripted product didn't work, there are others with different active ingredients. But treatment needs to be regular, not a once in a blue moon.

And, yes it could need to be biopsied if it's that severe and unremitting.
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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, too have been wondering if the condition is actually basic “cradle cap”. If it was, and it’s been present for two years - than balding should have already begun.

Fungus of one sort or another would be my next guess. But that should be easy enough to diagnose with a biopsy.

Im in agreement with those who say a doctors visit should happen - and a biopsy done. In the mean time treating with any type of targeted product - without knowing the actual cause of the problem - could very well be making things worse instead of better.
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pch111 May 2, 2019
I didn't make it clear, but she has seen a dermatologist who prescribed an ointment/presecription. She has used it faithfully for one year, but it has not cured the problem. We have tried other "folk cures" and some other ideas. There is no balding at all. I wish I had her hair! Her big issue is Just itching. I don't see any places on her scalp - only some flakes like dandruff. I like the idea of a biopsy. The doctor just looked and called it cradle cap. Thank you so much.
And thanks to all who offered great suggestions. I appreciate it.
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I go with ACV. Apple cider vinegar.
It will burn at first. But the issue will be gone!

After first time, you are done. Use weekly thereafter. Diluted.
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pch111 May 3, 2019
We tried that at the beginning, but I wasn't the one doing it so I'm not sure if it was used properly.
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Have you tried any tea tree products ?
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pch111 May 3, 2019
We have been worried about tea tree because it can burn if not used properly. The hairdresser and a sitter are the ones administering these treatments because my mom is not very mobile. We chose other options that didn't have the risk of possible burning if not performed correctly.
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Well you can't say she's not a conscientious patient - !

She followed a px faithfully for one year with no improvement? Did she let that dermatologist know how the treatment was going?
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pch111 May 3, 2019
Yes. Of course. They said stay the course. My mom lives with my dad in a retirement home. She goes to the beauty shop every week and they do these treatments prescribed by the doctor. This problem started because my mom was extremely ill and in the hospital for 3 months. She miraculously survived and went to rehab for 3 more months. All that time without regular head washing caused this.
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Natural olive oil
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https://www.odylique.com/blog/cradle-cap-in-adults-seborrhoea/
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I second the Olive Oil.
Take the time to gently massage the oil into the scalp (try a small area at a time-a few drops of oil at a time depending on thickness of hair) until the flakes start coming loose -just wipe off with a tissue . This might take a few applications, but It should go away in a short time.
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I'm pretty sure my neighbor's father used Vicks or Petroleum Jelly for cradle cap.

www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/treating-cradle-cap-in-children#1

www.pinterest.com/pin/454652524856890036/?lp=true

are just 2 websites to pop in a google search.
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When my kids had it as a baby I used baby oil. Honestly just massage it into her scalp, let it sit and use a fine comb to get it up. Comb back and forth and side to side to lift it gently. You will need to repeat. Simplest solution I know. Don’t worry about the hair being greasy it can be fixed with a wash.
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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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When my aunt 1st came to live with us after being in a NH for 100 days she also had this ....when we got her to us the hair dresser said keep useing dandruff shampoo itll go away after about 2 weeks so that is what we did ....and it worked very fine we also combed her hair more often to loosen the dead skin ...now I ONLY USE HEAD& SHOULDERS or a knock off brand to wash her hair And body her Dr suggested to always use shampoo with pyrethrin zinc !! It worked... well we do also use a no rinse foam shampoo and body wash in between washes and dry shampoo ..lots of combing to loosen the yuck on her scalp hair dresser was right .....
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Also I wanted to add my Aunt does tend to get eczema and we use lortadine & benadryl to help her itching I think consistency was our best way at getting it gone she fought me to wash her hair so much but it is what eventually helped washing and combing over & over again ....
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My husband gets it. The doctor says as an adult it is psoriasis. There is a prescription liquid, Mometasone Furoate, that you can use on it. It comes and goes. I check after each bath.
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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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My mother's nurse recommended T/Gel therapeutic shampoo (extra strength). So far, so good. Warning: it has a very strong smell.
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My client got prescription medicated shampoo from her PCP. It did help but you have to use it consistently. Good luck!
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When my dad developed the condition, I asked the pharmacist at the local Target. He recommended shampoos with ketoconozole as the active ingredient. He said the ones with the "tar" don't work as well. I buy Nizoral A-D shampoo for him.

Dad's in a skilled care community and gets a shower twice a week. Periodically, I remind the aids that they need to let the shampoo sit on his scalp for 15 minutes for it to work. I would guess that sometimes they forget and use the regular shampoo.

Honestly, it mostly clears the flakiness up, good enough for me. Dad is not bothered by it, and I don't dwell on the issue with the aids. I'm "picking my battles."

He has a weird patch on his right cheek near the hairline that does not clear up. I put Vicks Vapor Rub on it - Vicks is mildly antifungal. It's gentle and slow acting. It keeps the patch from getting too unsightly.

I tried tea tree oil, but it really didn't show much difference. Lately I've heard about oregano oil as an anti-fungal agent. I haven't tried it yet.
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Judysai422 May 3, 2019
LaurenBond,
Has a dermatologist looked at that patch? It could be skin cancer.
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Brags Apple Cider Vinegar on a cotton ball. Touch the area just once. It will burn for a few seconds.It will start to clear up quickly. It's a panacea and it works.
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pch111 May 3, 2019
Just bought it! Thank you!
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A good facial scrub will remove it.
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I have psoriasis on my scalp and have had flare ups for YEARS. It is VERY itchy. I use something from my dermatologist called Clobetesol solution, to help with the itching. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease. It is affected a lot by diet and by other infections in your body. When I eat a lot of sugar it flares more. If I have another type of infection it flares more. Stress also makes it flare. I get patches on other places on my body too. I use Clobex spray on those. I take probiotics and a lot of other things to keep my immune system functioning better and it helps. I don’t know if it ever goes away totally. None of those home remedies, oils, etc do a thing, because it has nothing to do with oil production or lack thereof. Just my experience. I also get it in my ear canals. I use the same solution.
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Someone please tell me what is cradle crap? From the answers it looks like it has something to do with the scalp/hair, but the name is misleading because the first thing I thought of it has something to do with the anus.

Ignore this. I googled it.
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Isthisrealyreal May 3, 2019
Cradle CAP.
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