What is seborrheic dermatitis?

It is a very common condition which causes a rash, it is not caused by poor hygiene. A type of seborrheic dermatitis is called cradle cap, common in infants.


What causes it?

Everyone can get this condition, and researchers are still studying what causes it. Yeast that lives on our skin, living in a cold and dry climate, genes, or just stress can contribute to the cause. Not harmful to the body, it is not caused by allergies or hygiene. Infants and adults over 30 are more susceptible to the condition. Medical treatments like psoraien, lithium, or interferon can increase the risk, as can certain medical conditions like HIV, other skin disease, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.

What are the symptoms?

Itch on the scalp and in the ear canal, redness and swelling, scales that look greasy or moist, that are yellow to white. It can look similar to eczema, psoriasis, or an allergy. Cold and dry weather can trigger a flare up, as can stress. Most infants don’t seem bothered by the condition, but causes the same thick and crusty patches on the scalp. When occurring elsewhere, it may appear to look like diaper rash.

How is it diagnosed and treated?

The patient’s medical history is important, as sometimes seborrheic dermatitis signifies an underlying condition. If this is suspected, tests may be performed in addition to a skin exam. Treatment cannot cure the condition, but has benefits like loosening and removing scale, preventing an infection, as well as reducing itching and swelling. Treatments vary with age and location on the skin. Cradle cap clears up in infants on its own and permanently disappears between 6 months and 1 year of age. However, your dermatologist at Dermatology of Seattle may recommend shampooing the scalp daily and brushing away softened scale. Medication may be recommended for the scalp. After infancy, seborrheic dermatitis may persist without treatment. For adults, dandruff shampoos may be recommended, along with medication or barrier repair cream. The condition can flare up and clear over life, treatment at Dermatology of Seattle can help manage this.