Boo had cradle cap. Not just a little cradle cap, she had it all over her head. She even had it on her eyebrows. And her face pealed for a good 2 months after she was born. Blech!
Cradle cap usually starts during baby's first three months and can continue for several months, or in rare instances, into toddlerhood and childhood. It is characterized by patchy, yellow or white, greasy skin that is scaly and/or crusty. It is neither itchy, nor is it harmful to the baby and will clear entirely on it's own. Whether or not to actually do anything about the cradle cap is an individual parental preference. For Boo, we did not even attempt to treat her cradle cap until she was 6 months old, and even then we didn't bother with the stuff on her eyebrows. The idea of putting anything near her eyes was way too off-putting for me to even consider! That being said, there are many "remedies" out there for cradle cap, but not all are created equal when it comes to Type 3/4 hair.
First of all, do not overwash your baby's hair. It's already dry enough without stripping more moisture from it trying to remove cradle cap. Some recommend using a soft brush or terry cloth towel to scrub off the cradle cap. I'm not a fan of anything that rubs the hairs on the head too hard; with the hair being as dry as it is I don't think it needs any extra "help" in breaking off; that's what I've been working so hard to avoid!
There is growing research that indicates that cradle cap is caused by yeast. This would not be surprising to us at all as Boo had thrush, as well as numerous yeast infections in the folds of her skin as a baby (including very badly smelling armpit body odor). When she got older we started her on a probiotics that have pretty much eliminated the yeast issue. But with as many yeast problems as she had as a baby it was not a surprise to learn that cradle cap and yeast could be related. It would definitely explain why her cradle cap was so bad.
Again, we did not even address the issue until Boo was 6 months old; I was informed early on not to use mineral oil or petroleum-based products (like Vaseline) on Boo's hair as it would "mess with her texture." I wasn't quite sure what that meant, other than the fact that both of those products are occlusive moisturizers, meaning that they provide a protective layer of product over the skin to help eliminate the evaporation of moisture. When thinking about it in terms of cradle cap, and the fact that it might be cause by yeast, I opted not to use an occlusive moisturizer; I know that yeast likes to grow in warm damp spaces and the last thing that I wanted to do was create a more fertile breading grown for the cradle cap to grow by sealing in the moisture.
We instead opted for lighter oils such as olive oil, jojoba oil, and coconut oil. All of these oils have anti-fungal properties so they will not promote the increase in cradle cap, making them an excellent choice if, indeed, cradle cap is caused by yeast. We used a little bit of olive oil in Boo's hair. Just the plain olive oil, not the extra virgin stuff, mostly because I cannot stand the smell of it (personal preference). That helped loosen the crustiness of the cradle cap and helped it come out when we did wash her hair (once a week). I did massage it in but I took no pains to rub, scrape, or otherwise mess with it, partially because her hair was filling in along the hairline in the front of her crown and I wanted to disturb the new hair growth as little as possible. Yes, it looked nasty, but for the most part you couldn't really see it unless you were looking really closely.
Boo's cradle cap was not completely gone until she was almost 10 months old, which seemed rather late compared to other babies who had it. I do know of a few other mamas out there who have used more oil (some several times a day) and that seemed to really help. In retrospect I think she could have used more oil more often (I only used it once or twice a week); that is, if it wasn't entirely due to yeast. If that was the case, I'm not certain anything I would have done, short of giving her probiotics, would have helped.
Lastly, cradle cap should not bleed, be red or swollen, or itch so if you have any questions or concerns about the health of your child, please seek the help of a medical professional.