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Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis

About Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder characterized by itchy, red skin covered with white or yellow greasy scales.


  • The areas rich in sebaceous glands are more commonly affected by this condition like the scalp, along the hairline, behind the ears, in the ear canal, on the eyebrows, around the nose, and/or on the chest.
  • In infants, the condition is also called "cradle cap," because of its characteristic scaly appearance on the scalp. However, it can also occur in the diaper area. Seborrheic dermatitis in this age group usually clears up on its own within the first year.
  • In adults, Seborrheic dermatitis is often referred to as dandruff. The condition is often intermittent


In adults and adolescents, the signs and symptoms include

  • Itchy scalp
  • Dry or greasy scales on the scalp
  • A yellow or red scaly rash along the hairline, behind the ears, in the ear canal, on the eyebrows, around the nose, and/or on the chest.
  • Red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales on other areas of your body, including your chest, armpits, and the area where your thigh meets the groin or the male scrotum.


The exact cause of Seborrheic dermatitis is not known. Multiple factors can contribute to this condition

  • A fungus called 'Malasezzia' – It is a said to play an important role in causing this condition. The response to topical antifungals is indicative of its causative nature.
  • Neurological diseases – Seborrheic dermatitis may occur in patients with Parkinson's Disease and facial paralysis. Certain neuroleptic drugs can also cause it.
  • Stress and fatigue – Stressful situations may help trigger an episode or make it worse through mechanisms that aren't yet understood.


A complete medical history and physical examination helps in the diagnosis of Seborrheic dermatitis.


Specific treatment for Seborrheic dermatitis will be determined by your physician. But though the condition responds to treatment, it may recur.

  • Anti-fungal topical medications – These agents seem to work by reducing numbers of Malasezzia yeast in affected areas of the body. Some of these agents are ketoconazole, selenium sulphide, zinc pyrithone, ciclopirox and can be found in shampoos, creams or lotions.
  • Oral anti-fungals – These may be indicated in a severe and widespread condition.
  • Corticosteroid cream or lotion – Low potency to mid-potency topical steroids can be used to control the initial acute episodes. These agents help symptoms by reducing inflammation, itching and discomfort. But they should always be used under the strict guidance of a dermatologist due to the associated adverse effect.

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