This article has been verified and approved by Sergio Alonso Castrillejo on April 5, 2019
Virginia Martinez • April 6, 2019
The milk crust is not an allergy, nor is its appearance due to poor hygiene. It is an aesthetic problem that, with the necessary care, will remain under control until it disappears.
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The milk crust or seborrheic dermatitis of the infant is relatively common in children up to three years old , and usually disappears on its own. However, it is normal for parents to be concerned when they make an appearance.
Therefore, in this article, we explain some issues related to this condition.
The milk crust
With "milk crust" we call a type of seborrheic dermatitis that occurs, mainly, in infants. It is the appearance of scabs or thick scales of yellowish color in the area of the scalp . However, it can appear in other parts of the body.
On the other hand, while some babies present it in very small areas, in others it can appear in the whole head, even in eyebrows or eyelashes.
Bebé con costra láctea
The scalp is the area most susceptible to milk crust, being a self-limiting condition that ends up disappearing in a few months.
In relation to its causes, the truth is that many are still under study. However, researchers believe that it may be caused by excessive production of fat by the sebaceous glands. Also, since seborrhea affects mainly infants and adolescents , perhaps the hormonal factor plays an important role.
In any case, there are other factors that can increase the likelihood of developing this condition. Among them, we can highlight extreme climates, oily skin, stress, weakened immune system, etc.
Next, we present 4 things you should know about the milk crust. These are questions that parents usually ask themselves in relation to this condition. In this way, you can reassure yourself and give it proper attention and care.
Does it sting or hurt?
Although its appearance may give the feeling that there is itching or pain, the truth is that the milk crust does not cause any of these sensations in the baby . If there is irritation, perhaps it is because there is also an infection, but not for seborrheic dermatitis itself.
In effect, it is only an aesthetic problem that, in most cases, will disappear on its own after a while.
Is the milk crust an allergy?
Médico realizando las pruebas de alergia a un paciente.
In this case it is clearly a myth. It is not an allergic reaction, nor can it be contagious.
Traditionally, myths and rumors have linked the appearance of the milk crust with certain food allergies , especially milk. However, it is precisely a myth.
As we explained earlier, seborrheic dermatitis in infants has nothing to do with allergic reactions, but with an excessive production of sebum by the sebaceous glands.
We recommend you read: 9 most common allergies among children
It is contagious?
No, the milk crust is not contagious. It is not any type of infection, nor is it caused by bacteria or viruses, so it can not be transmitted from one person to another.
Also, although in most cases it usually disappears after a few months , some children continue to present it until 2 or 3 years of age. In addition, in some cases, it may reappear suddenly once it has disappeared.
Is it due to lack of hygiene?
Peinando cabeza de una niña con costra láctea
Although not due to hygienic causes, an appropriate brush and the use of oils can help to eliminate them and prevent infections.
We explained previously that the exact causes that cause the appearance of milk crust are unknown. However, it is probably due to excessive production of fat or sebum by the body. So, it is not caused by a lack of hygiene .
On the other hand, once it appears, it is important to maintain certain measures in order to avoid infections . Thus, it is convenient to put gloves on the child if he tends to touch himself, keep his nails clean and use a comb whose bristles are also clean.
We recommend you read: What is dandruff and how to fight it with home remedies
How is the milk crust treated?
In most cases, a specific treatment is not necessary. In this sense, the application of olive oil or almonds together with a gentle massage in the area of the scales can help eliminate them . In addition, in some cases, it may be necessary to leave the oil to act for a while, in order to soften them.
In any case, we should never remove the scales by scratching or using combs to remove them . It is better to let the oils soften and disappear by themselves little by little.
Should I go to the doctor?
It is always important to have the advice of the pediatrician in matters related to the health of infants. Therefore, in case of milk crust, in the visit to the doctor we must indicate so that you can check that it is this condition and not other problems .
In addition, the doctor can advise on specific shampoos for babies or what oils to use.
In any case, we must go to the specialist if:
Bebé siendo auscultado
In case of doubts or complications, going to the doctor will allow us to diagnose and treat it properly.
The milk crust worsens and spreads to other parts of the body besides the head.
Seborrhea causes irritation and itching of the baby, and hair loss is observed.
The affected area becomes red, hot, or begins to ooze.
In addition to seborrhea, the child has problems gaining weight.
As you have seen, seborrheic dermatitis in infants is not a serious condition. It is enough with some care at home and, sooner or later, it will disappear. However, we must refer your appearance to the pediatrician so that, in addition to ruling out other problems, you can tell us in a professional manner how to treat it.