Symptoms N Options

Causes, Symptoms & Treatment for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Rashes which are itching and red with flaky scales on the scalp could be seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea

It is a disease that looks very similar to psoriasis, eczema or any other allergic reaction. It may appear on the scalp as well as on the body too.


The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known, but it is concluded to be a combination of the following-

  • Stress
  • Genes
  • A yeast that is found on the skin
  • Certain medical conditions and medicines
  • Cold dry weather

This disease does not come from any allergy or being unclean. Anyone from newborns to adults of age 30 to 60 is likely to get this skin disease. Men and women with oily skin are more prone to it. Some conditions that increase the risk of seborrheic dermatitis are acne, AIDS, alcoholism, depression, eating disorders, epilepsy, heart attack or stroke recovery, Parkinson’s disease, Psoriasis, rosacea.


People also call it commonly by the names of dandruff and cradle cap. Babies younger than 3 months often get a cradle cap. This looks like a crusty yellow-brown scales deposited on the scalp. It goes away on its own before the baby is a year old but may come back once they reach puberty. Seborrheic dermatitis can infect the face especially around the nose, eyebrows, eyelids and behind the ears. The other body parts where it can show up are-

  • The middle part of the chest
  • Around the navel
  • On buttocks
  • In the skin folds underarms and on legs
  • In the groin
  • Below breasts

Seborrheic dermatitis is generally mistaken for diaper rash in babies. The skin starts itching, burning and a lot of redness is caused because of seborrheic dermatitis. The skin that flakes off on its own can be white or yellow and looks moist or oily. It generally looks like any other skin condition. You need to see a doctor to get a right diagnosis and right treatment. The dermatologist on looking into the medical history and your skin would decide on the line of treatment. Some tests can also be needed to be done to confirm the medical condition if the doctor feels to do so.


Seborrheic dermatitis generally clears up by itself, but mostly it stays lifelong that clear and comes back and flares in intervals. A good skincare regime can usually control it. This may last for years at a time. Over the counter, dandruff shampoo with key ingredients of Coal Tar, Selenium Sulfide, Salicylic Acid, Zinc Pyrithione, Ketoconazole, can be used by adults to keep seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp in control.

Shampoo the scalp of infants suffering from cradle cap with warm water and baby shampoo. A piece of advice from the pediatrician about medicated shampoos is a must. A regular dandruff shampoo may irritate the baby scalp. Rubbing mineral oil softly to the area of patches will soften the thick flakes and gently using a hairbrush would do away the scales.

It is essential to keep the affected areas on the face and body clean. Washing it with the mild soap and water every day is a must. Be sure to use a sunscreen as the sunlight may stop the growth of yeast organisms which results inflaming the skin. This yeast helps the rash to go away.

Other treatments include antifungal products, prescribed medicated shampoos, corticosteroid lotions, sulphur products, etc. A combination of treatments often give the best results both in medication and lifestyle. To be aware of the side effects of the prescribed medicines is very important. Talk to the doctor about it. If seborrheic dermatitis does not get better or does not starts healing, the area may become painful, red, swollen and begins to drain pus. See a doctor immediately for better and advanced treatment options.

  • Immunity Badao – Bimari Bhagao