Seborrheic Dermatitis

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a common inflammatory condition that causes white or yellow flakes to occur on the skin.   The condition typically occurs on oily skin such as the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, chin, ears, axillae, groin area, central chest and creases beside the nose.  Besides being itchy, the disease is also embarrassing since the flaky skin is hard to cover and does not improve with the use of common moisturizers.  The disease may or may not be associated with redness.  Cradle cap, which represents seborrheic dermatitis in infants, is a harmless, temporary condition resulting in thick adherent, yellow-brown scales.

What causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is thought to be caused by a combination of oily skin and overgrowth of a common yeast of the skin.  Common triggers include stress, environmental changes such as cold weather, infrequent shampooing or cleansing of the skin, and acne.  Seborrheic dermatitis typically runs in families, but is also commonly found in patients with HIV, Parkinson’s disease, stroke and dementia.

Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment

Mild cases of seborrheic dermatitis respond to over the counter shampoos and lotions containing selenium sulfide, zinc, salicylic acid and hydrocortisone.   More severe cases will need to be treated with prescription strength antifungal (ketoconazole, nystatin) and topical steroid (Topicort, Clobex) creams and shampoos.  Patients are instructed to vigorously scrub the scalp during shampooing to help loosen the scale.  Leaving the shampoo in the scalp for about five (5) minutes before rinsing, usually results in a more effective response.  Once the condition is improved, the creams and shampoos will need to be user periodically to maintain the improvement.  We look forward to sharing our expertise with you and helping you to achieve clearer skin.