Skip to Content

How to Treat Cradle Cap With Herbs From Your Backyard

Cradle cap (or infantile seborrheic dermatisis) is the scaly or crusty patches of skin on your child’s scalp. This recipe will help treat cradle cap with herbs foraged from your backyard.

While it’s completely harmless and not painful, it is unsightly.

Holiday Savings on your Herbal Education!

My son had it for years until I finely found an herbal treatment for it.

If you’re new to creating your own herbal remedies, check out Herbal Academy’s new herbal starter kit: it’s got the herbs and step-by-step recipes to get your started making your own teas, tinctures and medicinal oils, like this one!

Cradle cap is caused by the skin producing excess oil on the scalp, which creates those scaly patches.

I didn’t really try to cure it for the first few months. It was unsightly, sure, but most cradle cap clears up on its own.

cradle cap

It’s kind of hard to see in this picture, but it was the best one I could get! You can see dark scaly patches at the base of his hair in the middle.

Fast-forward a year and Baby Jack still has it. The original instructions say to apply the oil and leave it in overnight.

On an infant, all you would have to do is apply the oil to the scalp, put a cap on so it doesn’t make a mess, and put the baby to bed.

Because we co-sleep (and Jack uses every inch of our Queen-sized bed), I apply it in the bath, let him play for awhile while I comb his hair, and then wash it off with a mild shampoo.

If you follow my blog at all, you’ll know I’m taking the Introductory Herbalism course from Herbal Academy and loving it!

One of the recipes from the course was for a cradle cap treatment, and I knew it was time to tackle Jack’s cradle cap again.

Even better – the recipe called for all local herbs I could wildcraft myself. Win win!

An Herbal Remedy to Treat Cradle Cap From The Backyard

medicinal benefits of red clover

I walked around our new homestead and collected red clover and plantain. I popped them all in the dehydrator and dried them at the lowest setting (so as not to cook the herbs).

You want to use dried herbs when making herbal oils so that they don’t mold.

The red clover contains tannins, which are drying – that’s why when you drink a strong red wine, your mouth gets dry!

In this case, it’s safe enough to use on children’s skin to help dry out the follicles that are over-producing the oil.

It also contains protein (including all of the amino acids) as well as minerals and vitamins, including vitamins B and C, calcium, chromium, magnesium, thiamine, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen, and iron to nourish the skin into health.

Plantain has a world-wide reputation as a healing herb, especially for skin. It has been referred to by one Cherokee Elder as an “Indian band aid.”

It can be found growing virulently all over, and is often used in a “spit poultice” – where the healer will simply chew up a few leaves of it and apply the plant/spit combination directly to a wound.

Recent studies have backed up what people have known about plantain for centuries.

Wounds treated with plantain showed faster healing times and greater collagen growth in the wounds.

It also has great anti-inflammatory and astringent properties that make it a great herb for eczema, rosacea, shingles, etc.

How To Make The Cradle Cap Treatment

herbal remedy cradle cap

Once they were thoroughly dried, I crushed them in my mortar and pestle to break open the leaves and allow the oil to access the volatile oils within the plants.

herbal remedy cradle cap

Then I added them to my crockpot with the sweet almond oil and let them cook on low for 4 hours.

herbal oil infusion for cradle cap

Still warm, I ran the infused oil through a filter to remove the solids.

You can use cheesecloth for this, but I tend to use a reusable coffee filter – it does the job and is reusable, so I’m not buying a million sheets of cheesecloth and throwing it away when I’m done.

And I love that I never find myself mid project without a filter! Simply wash it, and use it for your coffee in the morning!

herbal oil infusion

Once the oil has been filtered and allowed to cool, you can use it on baby. This is the fun part!

herbal cradle cap treatment

Baby was a little skeptical of it at first, but his grandparents were there to distract him!

herbal cradle cap treatment

Simply massage the oil onto baby’s scalp and let it soak in for awhile while he plays in the tub.

Then you’ll need a fine-toothed comb.

Comb out baby’s hair, gently dragging the tines of the comb against his scalp.

The oil will help loosen up the cradle cap, and the comb will gently pry it off of his skin.

treating cradle cap

Comb it in all directions until your toddler swipes your hand away! You can see the built up scaly skin at the base of the tines of the comb.

Once your baby has had enough, wash with your traditional gentle shampoo.

We had to repeat this process a few times, but I’m happy to report his scalp looks soooo much better!

If he sits still for any amount of time, I’ll try to take another picture!

We had tried this process before with straight coconut oil, but it seemed to almost dry out his skin too much, which then encouraged more oil and cradle cap.

Keep the oil in a jar in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks. Here’s the official recipe from Herbal Academy.

herbal remedy cradle cap

Treat cradle cap


  • 1/2 cup dried red clover blossoms
  • 1/4 cup dried mullein flowers
  • 1/2 cup dried plantain leaves
  • 2 cups sweet almond oil


    1. Infuse your dried herbs in the oil in a crockpot on low for 4 hours.
    2. Strain and pour into a glass container with a tight fitting lid.
    3. Once cool, apply a teaspoon to the child's scalp.
    4. Leave it on overnight, covered by a cap, or comb the hair, prying up the scaly skin.
    5. Wash the oil out with a gentle shampoo.

Maria Arefieva

Sunday 27th of May 2018

Hi, I wanted to check on a follow up for this treatment. Did the craddle cap full go away and didn’t return?

Lauren Dibble

Sunday 27th of May 2018

Yep! It sure did. I found a spot of it near the side the I had missed, redid the treatment and now it’s completely gone and has been gone for a year now. I’m amazed at how it only took two or three treatments. Give it a shot and let me know how it works for you!

Skip to Recipe