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  Seborrheic Dermatitis  
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Conditions that suggest it | Contributing risk factors | Recommendations


Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder that can be easily treated. This condition is a red, scaly, itchy rash most commonly seen on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyebrows, eyelids, skin behind the ears, and middle of the chest. Other areas, such as the navel (belly button), buttocks, skin folds under the arms, axillary regions, breasts, and groin, may also be involved.

Dandruff appears as scaling on the scalp without redness. Seborrhea is excessive oiliness of the skin, especially of the scalp and face, without redness or scaling. Patients with seborrhea may later develop seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis has both redness and scaling.
This condition is most common in three age groups - infancy when it’s called “cradle cap,” middle age, and the elderly. Cradle cap usually clears without treatment within the first year. In some infants, seborrheic dermatitis may develop only in the diaper area where it could be confused with other forms of diaper rash. When seborrheic dermatitis develops at other ages it can come and go. Seborrheic dermatitis may be seasonally aggravated particularly in northern climates; it is common in people with oily skin or hair, and may be seen with acne or psoriasis. A yeast-like organism may be involved in causing seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis is more common in men than in women, probably because sebaceous gland activity is under androgen control. Seborrhea usually first appears in persons in their teens and twenties and generally follows a waxing/waning course throughout adulthood.

Seborrheic dermatitis may occur in patients with diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson’s disease. Patients recovering from stressful medical conditions, such as a heart attack, may also develop this problem. People in hospitals or nursing homes and those with immune system disorders appear to be more prone to this disorder as well.

Seborrheic dermatitis may get better on its own, but with regular treatments, the condition improves more quickly. There is no way to prevent or cure seborrheic dermatitis, however, it can be controlled with treatment.


Conditions that suggest Seborrheic Dermatitis:
Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  Having seborrheic dermatitis

  Absense of seborrheic dermatitis

Risk factors for Seborrheic Dermatitis:
Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  History of seborrheic dermatitis

Recommendations for Seborrheic Dermatitis:
Drug  Conventional Drugs / Information
 Please see the link between Seborrheic Dermatitis and Topical Applications.


  Lithium (low dose)

Physical Medicine

  Topical Applications
 Gentle shampooing with a mild shampoo is helpful for infants with cradle cap. Mild corticosteroid creams and lotions, or anti-fungal topicals such as ciclopirox or ketoconazole, may also be applied to the affected areas of skin. Adult patients may need to use a medicated shampoo and a stronger corticosteroid preparation. Non-prescription shampoos containing tar, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, and/or salicylic acid may be recommended by a dermatologist, or a prescription shampoo, cream gel, or foam may be given. As excessive use of stronger preparations can cause side effects, so caution is advised and you should follow a dermatologist’s advice.

Medicated shampoos need to be left on for longer than normal shampoos. Ideally, make the hair wet 10 minutes before your shower/bath. Apply medicated shampoo and massage gently into the scalp. Leave for 10 minutes and rinse off well.

Further discussion of various products can be found on many sites, including the American Family Physician.

Strong or generally accepted link
Proven definite or direct link
Very strongly or absolutely counter-indicative
May do some good
Likely to help
Highly recommended