Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic, usually intermittent, disorder which produces inflammation and scaling of the skin. It can involve the scalp and face. When this condition occurs in infants, it is sometimes known as cradle cap. In adults, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is called dandruff.
The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known. The skin of the scalp, and sometimes the face, becomes inflamed and flakes off.
The skin changes seen in seborrheic dermatitis usually occur on the scalp and the face. The eyebrows, the skin folds from the side of the nose down to the corner of the mouth, and the ear canals are common sites on the face. Symptoms may include: red scalp and facegreasy white scales and sticky crustscircular plaques with thick scales, particularly on the scalpitching
The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown. It tends to run in families. Some individuals have an overgrowth of yeast organisms that is linked with this condition. Those with neurologic disorders, immunodeficiency disorders such as HIV, and extended hospital stays can also have severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis.
There is no known way to prevent seborrheic dermatitis.
A healthcare professional can make the diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis by examining the skin.
Seborrheic dermatitis causes no long-term effects other than itching and discomfort.
Seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious, and poses no risk to others.
Treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include: shampoos containing special substances such as selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, tar, or ketoconazoletopical corticosteroid lotionsketoconazole creamsulfur and salicylic acid mixtures
Medicated shampoos can dry the hair. Sometimes they can irritate the scalp or cause a rash. Long-term use of topical corticosteroids can thin the skin
Long-term treatment is often needed to control episodes of seborrheic dermatitis.
Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare professional.