Seborrheic Dermatitis

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

Counter Indicators
Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  

Absense of seborrheic dermatitis

Risk factors for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Symptoms - Skin - Conditions  

History of seborrheic dermatitis

Recommendations for Seborrheic Dermatitis


Conventional Drugs / Information

Please see the link between Seborrheic Dermatitis and Topical Applications.


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


Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by loose, greasy or dry, white to yellowish scales with associated reddened skin. Cradle cap is the term used when seborrheic dermatitis affects the scalp of infants.


Skin disease characterized by dry or moist, greasy, yellow crusts or scales.


A general term used to refer to eruptions or rashes on the skin.


A chronic skin disorder due to inflammation of hair follicles and sebaceous glands (secretion glands in the skin).


An inherited skin disorder in which there are red patches with thick, dry silvery scales. It is caused by the body making too-many skin cells. Sores may be anywhere on the body but are more common on the arms, scalp, ears, and the pubic area. A swelling of small joints may go along with the skin disease.


Any steroid hormone that increases male characteristics.

Nervous System

A system in the body that is comprised of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, ganglia and parts of the receptor organs that receive and interpret stimuli and transmit impulses to effector organs.

Immune System

A complex that protects the body from disease organisms and other foreign bodies. The system includes the humoral immune response and the cell-mediated response. The immune system also protects the body from invasion by making local barriers and inflammation.

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