Dandruff Seborrheic Dermatitis

Overview, Causes, & Risk Factors

Seborrheric dermatitis is a chronic, inflamed redness and scaling of the skin. It can involve the scalp and face. When this condition occurs in infants, it is sometimes called cradle cap. In adults, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is called dandruff.

What is going on in the body?

The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known. The skin of the scalp, and sometimes the face, becomes inflammed and flakes off.

What are the causes and risks of the condition?

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 have severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis.

Symptoms & Signs

What are the signs and symptoms of the condition?

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 face
  • greasy white scales and sticky crusts
  • circular plaques with thick scales, particularly on the scalp
  • itching
  • Diagnosis & Tests

    How is the condition diagnosed?

    A healthcare professional will make a diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis by examining the skin.

    Prevention & Expectations

    What can be done to prevent the condition?

    There is no way to prevent seborrheic dermatitis.

    What are the long-term effects of the condition?

    Seborrheic dermatitis causes no long-term effects other than itching and discomfort.

    What are the risks to others?

    Seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious, and poses no risk to others.

    Treatment & Monitoring

    What are the treatments for the condition?

    Treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include:

  • shampoos containing special substances such as selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, tar, or ketoconazole
  • topical corticosteroid lotions
  • ketoconazole cream
  • sulfur and salicylic acid mixtures
  • What are the side effects of the treatments?

    Medicated shampoos can dry the hair. Sometimes they can irritate the scalp. Long-term use of topical corticosteroids can thin the skin. A rash may also occur.

    What happens after treatment for the condition?

    Long-term treatment is often needed to control episodes of seborrheic dermatitis.

    How is the condition monitored?

    Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider.

    Article type: xmedgeneral