What is seborrheic dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common, chronic disease that results in redness and greasy scaly rash of the skin. This condition may occur on various locations on the body. The scalp, sides of the nose, eyebrows, eyelids, the skin behind the ears, the center of the chest, and the genitalia are the most commonly involved areas. These areas have the greatest number of oil glands. Seborrheic dermatitis is common in people with oily skin or hair. In teenagers and adults, it is commonly called “dandruff.” In babies, it is called “cradle cap.”
What causes seborrheic dermatitis?
The exact cause is not known. In babies, seborrheic dermatitis may be related to hormones, because the problem often starts in infancy and goes away before puberty. In adults, the cause is usually due to a yeast, called Pityrosporum ovale. This organism is normally present on the skin in small numbers, but sometimes its numbers increase, resulting in skin problems. Seborrheic dermatitis is NOT related to diet, is NOT contagious, and does NOT cause hairloss.
How is seborrheic dermatitis treated?
While seborrheic dermatitis is not curable, it may be controlled by medicines that remove scale, decrease redness, and relieve itching. The goal of treatment is to control the condition and to prevent symptoms such as itching and flaking. Shampoos containing salicyclic acid and tar help to remove scale. Antifungal medicines such as selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, and sulfur can help by reducing yeasts that grows on the skin. Dr. Mann may prescribe a topical steroid for more severe seborrheic dermatitis.
The mainstay of treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is special dandruff shampoo. It is important to
use these shampoo as directed before for best effects.
- Choose two shampoos with different active ingredients and wash your hair every day, but alternate the shampoo you use.
- Massage the shampoo into your scalp. You may also use it on your face, ears, chest, and armpits.
- Leave the shampoo in for 5-10 minutes before rinsing.
- Different shampoos work better in different people. If a particular combination of shampoo does not seem
- to be working well for you after 4 weeks, try a new combination.
- Once the dandruff improves, you can use the medicated shampoo once or twice weekly and use a regular nonmedicated shampoo on the other days.