Seborrheic dermatitis is a red, swollen, and scaly rash on the skin. The skin may also be itchy. It is common on the scalp, ears, eyebrows, face, eyelids, chest, back, armpits, and genitals.
Dandruff is a type of seborrheic dermatitis where there is a scaling of the skin on the scalp.
The condition tends to be long-term. Treatment can manage flare-ups of symptoms.
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The exact cause is not known. Common skin yeast organisms or genetics may play a role.
This problem is more common in men. Other things that may raise the risk are:
Problems may be mild to severe. Symptoms may also come and go over time.
The skin may have:
- Patchy scales that may look greasy or moist
- Yellow to white scales that flake off
- Itching and burning
- Small pimples on the nose, eyebrows, chest, back, arm pits, or genitals
Newborns may have a thick, yellow, crusted scalp rash. This is known as cradle cap.
The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on the rash. This is often enough to make the diagnosis. The person may be referred to a doctor who treats skin problems.
There is no cure for this condition. The rash may get better on its own in children. Baby shampoo, mineral oil, and anti-fungal shampoos can help.
In others, the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Options are:
- Prescription or over-the-counter shampoos
- Prescription or over-the-counter creams or lotions that contain:
- Hydrocortisone or other cortisone (steroid) preparations
- Antifungal medicines
- Antibiotic medicine
- Pimecrolimus or tacrolimus
- Lithium salt
There are no known guidelines to prevent this health problem.
- Ijaz N, Fitzgerald D. Seborrhoeic dermatitis. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2017;78(6):C88-C91.
- Seborrheic dermatitis: overview. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/seborrheic-dermatitis.
- Seborrheic dermatitis in children and adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seborrheic-dermatitis-in-children-and-adults.
- Seborrheic dermatitis in infants. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seborrheic-dermatitis-in-infants.
- 3/12/2018 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seborrheic-dermatitis-in-children-and-adults: Karakadze MA, Hirt PA, et al. The genetic basis of seborrhoeic dermatitis: a review. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Nov 20.
- Daniel A. Ostrovsky, MD
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