Seborrheic dermatitis is a common inflammatory condition of the skin that affects people of all ages. Adults with seborrheic dermatitis often develop scaly patches on oily areas of the skin involving the head, face, and body. The patches are most common on the scalp but also appear on the ears, central face, upper chest and back.
Affected skin often presents with a pink to yellow scaly rash. Although the patches may cause social discomfort or embarrassment, seborrheic dermatitis is not caused by poor hygiene or a contagious condition.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common but chronic condition which can wax and wane in its course over time. Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it’s suspected multiple factors may play a role including: yeast normally found on the skin, residing in a cold and dry climate, stress, general health and genetics.
Skin conditions like acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis increase the risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis. Other diseases (including stroke, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy) and certain medications are also associated with the condition.
If you have seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, dandruff shampoos may be helpful. For patches on the face and body, wash with a mild soap and water and apply a moisturizer. Shampoos, washes or lotions containing coal tar, selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, or sulfur may also be helpful. Avoid products with petroleum jelly, which can worsen symptoms.
For seborrheic dermatitis that’s not manageable with the above remedies, consult your dermatologist for a more specific treatment plan. Prescription shampoos, creams, drops, and antifungal medications may be used alone or in combination to treat the condition. Your dermatologist will likely design a treatment plan and skin-care regimen suited for your specific needs.
Keeping skin clean and refraining from scratching will help decrease the risk of infection.