Seborrheic Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment


Seborrheic Dermatitis is commonly known as seborrheic eczema and also as seborrhea. It is a common form of skin disease which looks quite similar to eczema, psoriasis or an allergic reaction. If you have red and itchy kind of rashes on your scalp which has flaky scales then it could be seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic Dermatitis or seborrhea can appear on the scalp or anywhere on the body.

Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Many kinds of research and studies have been conducted to find out about the cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis but no exact cause has been discovered yet. However, there is a strong possibility of various factors to be behind the occurrence of Seborrheic Dermatitis, which are as mentioned below.

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Stress and mental tension
  3. A type of Yeast which lives on the skin
  4. The dry and cold weather
  5. Side effect of some special medicines or medical conditions

Some theories also indicate towards a weak immune system and lack of special nutrients including Zinc to be the reason behind Seborrheic Dermatitis. However, there are common myths regarding Seborrheic Dermatitis that it is caused as a result of allergy or Unhygienic behaviour. Seborrheic Dermatitis is more common in small children or people in the age group between 30-6 years. It is more common among the Men as compared to women. Similarly, people with oily skin are more likely to have this condition. The possibilities of having Seborrheic Dermatitis becomes higher if the person suffers from certain medical conditions including AIDS, Acne, Alcoholism, Eating disorders, Depression, Epilepsy, Heart attack or recovery from stroke, Psoriasis or Rosacea.

Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis

The common names for seborrheic dermatitis are cradle cap and dandruff. Infant babies of 3 months or less than three months are likely to get this problem which is known as cradle cap. It looks like brown or crusty yellow scales on the head. Usually, it disappears when the child reaches one year of age but it may come back when the child reaches puberty.


It can appear in various parts of the body including the face, around the nose, behind the ears or also on the eyelids. The scales can also occur on the body including the following parts.

  1. On the chest’s middle area
  2. Navel area and around it
  3. On the buttocks
  4. Under the arms or on the legs
  5. In the groin region
  6. Below the breasts in case of women

In case of infants, people are likely to mistake Seborrheic Dermatitis for being diaper rashes. There can be itching kind of feeling and burning sensation in the affected area. The affected region may look red in colour. The scales that appear as flakes may be of white or yellow colour. It can also look moist or oily.


Normally, Seborrheic Dermatitis looks like any other normal skin condition of the skin so a medical professional should be consulted to get a proper diagnosis and treatment. It is necessary for the dermatologist or the skin expert to have a look at the affected area. It is also important for the doctor to know about the family history of Seborrheic Dermatitis. There could be a necessity of other tests if there is any possibility of some other medical condition behind the problem.

Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

First of all, an exact diagnosis of the problem should be made to seek treatment for it. Usually, Seborrheic Dermatitis disappears over time. It is mostly an issue which lasts a lifetime but it clears and flares again. The problem can last for many years so there is the need for proper care of the skin to manage the symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis. Normal cases of this disease in adults can be treated with the use of over the counter anti-dandruff shampoos. The shampoo should contain ingredients like Coal tar, Ketoconazole, Salicylic acid, Selenium sulfide and Zinc pyrithione. In case of infants with cradle cap, their scalp should be washed daily with warm water using a baby shampoo. If the baby shampoos prove to be useless then the advice of paediatrician should be taken before using other types of shampoos.

If there is thick kind of patches then mineral oil can be used on the affected area to gently remove the scales from using a baby hairbrush. If there are symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis on the body and skin then proper hygiene is also necessary. Use soap and water to clean the affected area daily. It is advised to get involved in some outdoor activities and exercises as well. Sunlight can play a great role in stopping the yeasts from growing on the skin but don’t forget to use sunscreen while going outdoors. There are other treatments like antifungal creams and Corticosteroid lotions which may prove to be helpful. Similarly, Prescription-strength medicated shampoos and Sulphur products can also help to get rid of Seborrheic Dermatitis.

The best way to get rid of Seborrheic Dermatitis is to use medication and also improve the lifestyle. If any form of treatment other than shampoos is used for a long time, then you need to consult the doctor for further advice. If this disease doesn’t heal but it just gets worse with painful red spots or starts to drain pus then you need to visit a doctor as soon as possible.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.