Seborrheic Dermatitis

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis/eczema is a chronic form of scaly dermatitis/eczema that affects the face and scalp. It may affect individuals of all ages. Dandruff (pityriasis capitis) is a form of seborrheic dermatitis without inflammation.

What is the Cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

The precise cause of inflammatory seborrheic dermatitis is unknown. It exists where malassezia yeast (a commensal, non-pathogenic skin inhabitant) proliferates. Its metabolites are thought to provoke an inflammatory reaction within the skin. Individual differences in skin barrier lipid composition and functional capacity may be involved.

Cradle Cap and Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis

Babies less than three months of age are susceptible to contracting infantile seborrheic dermatitis, more commonly known as “cradle cap.” This greasy, scale-like dermatitis does not seem to affect the well-being of the infant, and typically resolves within a year. In some cases, the dermatitis spreads to the armpit and groin fold areas. Keeping affected areas clean and dry minimizes the appearance of the condition.

Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis

Most individuals that develop seborrheic dermatitis begin experiencing symptoms during adolescence. The condition most commonly affects elderly, as well as young adults, or males. The most severely affected individuals tend to have a family history of the condition, oily skin, immunosuppression, neurological diseases, and/or conditions such as depression.

The areas most commonly affected by seborrheic dermatitis include the face, scalp, and upper trunk. Flares are most common during the cooler months, with marked improvement following summer sun exposure. The mid-facial skin tends to be combination oily/dry, flaky, with thin, scaly plaques in the skin folds. Folliculitis is usually present, as well. Many patients with seborrheic dermatitis also have blepharitis (scaly, red margins of the eyelids).

Treatments for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Scale removal can be accomplished with the use of keratolytic agents such as lactic and salicylic acid, propylene glycol, and urea. Antifungals such as ketoconazole, cicloprex, zinc pyrithione, and selenium sulphide can be helpful to reduce yeast colonies. Inflammation may be reduced with mild topical corticosteroids, as well as calcineurin inhibitors. More severe cases may benefit from additional therapies, including antibiotics and phototherapy.

Contact Allegheny Advanced Dermatology Center to schedule an appointment. Call: (814) 944-7109.