Seborrheic dermatitis (seb derm) is an extremely common skin condition affecting mostly the face and scalp. Think of this as being similar to dandruff, though it is more of a substantial rash with redness and increased symptoms, particularly itching. This can affect both adults and children. In babies, it is often called a “cradle cap.” At Advanced Dermatology of the Midlands, seborrheic dermatitis is a skin disease that we diagnose and treat quite often.
What are the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis?
If you are noticing a rough, flaky rash on your scalp, or certain areas of the face especially in the eyebrows, between the eyebrows, along the creases on the side of the nose, or on and around the ears, then odds are good that you have seborrheic dermatitis. The best dermatologists know that this condition can affect both men and women, although, it is more common in men. Seb derm can be present year-round, however, it is generally worse during the transitional seasons such as the spring and fall.
The classic appearance of seborrheic dermatitis involves red scaling patches in areas of the body that have higher numbers of oil glands. This has to do with the underlying cause of the condition. Seb derm occurs when there is an overgrowth in a natural yeast organism on the skin. This is especially common in areas of high oil production. Our bodies develop a sensitivity allergic-like reaction to this yeast, resulting in a rash. Because testosterone increases our oil production, men tend to have this condition more often.
There is some good news and there’s bad news when it comes to seborrheic dermatitis. The bad news, you cannot cure the condition. People who have it tend to have it recur periodically. However, the good news is you can easily treat and control the condition. Our dermatology providers are familiar with several different medications that can treat seborrheic dermatitis. There are also several things that can be done at home to improve seborrheic dermatitis.
For more mild cases, these measures can be quite helpful. A good cleansing routine is very important. If natural oil sits on the skin in areas where seborrheic dermatitis is present, the condition will worsen. In most cases washing the areas more often will help. There are several shampoos you can purchase over the counter for this condition. Nonprescription medicated shampoos such as Head & Shoulders, Selsun Blue, And Neutrogena T-gel are some examples. Before rinsing your hair or skin, we recommend leaving the shampoo on for 3-5 minutes. Nonprescription medicated shampoos can be used on the scalp or even on the face as a facial cleanser. Speak with your doctor or dermatology provider first if using any of these for young children. Finally, hydrocortisone cream or ointment may help if applied to affected areas up to 10 days per month as needed.
Helpful reading: How to relieve itchy skin (American Academy of Dermatology)
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