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Seborrheic Dermatitis


Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory disease that causes a rash that presents with a white or yellowish crusty scale and flaking that can be red and oily appearing. This rash commonly occurs on the scalp, eyelids and eyebrows, nasal labial folds, ears, armpits and sometimes groin area. The yeast Malassezia Ovalis is the cause of some cases of seborrheic dermatitis. An overabundance of this yeast can cause irritation to skin resulting in an itch. The patches in the scalp may spread to the entire scalp leading to dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp of infants is referred to as “cradle cap".

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Seborrheic dermatitis is chronic in adolescents and adults and it may fluctuate in severity. Elderly patients with nervous system issues and people in hospitals or those with compromised immune system are more prone to seborrheic dermatitis. Cold and dryer weather as well as stress can trigger flare ups.

Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is treated with topical corticosteroids and antifungal and tar creams. Many of these agents are available in shampoos as well. Over the counter/non-prescriptive treatments including selenium sulfide, non-prescription shampoos containing tar, pyrithione and/or salicylic acid may also be helpful. Cradle cap can also be treated with daily shampoos and scalp massage, however, prescription topical medication may be needed in cases that do not resolve.

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