Seborrheic Dermatitis

What is seborrheic dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that tends to wax and wane over time and appears as flaky, red patches around the eyebrows, ears, nose, or scalp. The patch or rash may also appear greasy and swollen with a yellowish or white crusty scale on the surface. One or more rashes can appear on the body, and in some instances, the affected skin will itch.

Many babies get a type of seborrheic dermatitis called cradle cap. Cradle cap can be identified as scaly, greasy patches that form on the baby’s scalp. The patches can become crusty and thick, but the condition is harmless. Cradle cap usually goes away without treatment within a few months. When adults get seborrheic dermatitis, the condition can flare up and fade for life. Flare-ups are common when the weather is dry and cold or when a person feels stressed.

What causes seborrheic dermatitis?

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is still being studied, but researchers have learned that it is not caused by poor personal hygiene, it is not an allergy, and it will not harm the body. Yeast that lives on the skin, living in a dry and cold climate, stress, and a person’s genes and overall personal health can also work together to cause this condition.

Your risk increases if you have any of the following medical conditions:

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms and signs of seborrheic dermatitis vary with age. Adults often experience:

  • Scaly patches on the skin that often look moist or greasy
  • Reddish skin beneath the patches
  • Scales that flake off, which tend to be yellowish to white

For both adults and adolescents, the skin can burn and itch. The scalp and ear canal can be especially itchy.

How is seborrheic dermatitis treated?

When you schedule an appointment at Dermatology & Skin Health, we will review your medical history and examine your skin to inspect the rash. Although there is no cure for this condition, treatment can provide numerous benefits. Topical steroids and antifungals can help keep the skin clear if used regularly. Non-prescription anti-dandruff shampoos may also help control scaling or itching.

Request a consultation in Seacoast, New Hampshire or North Shore, Massachusetts

Seborrheic dermatitis can look similar to eczema, psoriasis, or an allergic reaction. Each of these skin conditions requires a different treatment, which is why you should schedule an appointment with a dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis. To meet with a board-certified dermatologist, request a consultation online or give us a Call (603) 742-5556 (Dover & Newington), (978) 525-0100 (Peabody), (603) 965-3551 (Londonderry), or (603) 742-5556 (Bedford).

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