What is Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disease that causes a red, scaly, itchy rash typically on the scalp, eyebrows, nasolabial folds, and ears. It is not a curable condition and can come and go without warning. Treatment is often necessary to control it, however it may clear without
treatment as well. It can affect people of all ages, but most often is seen in infants and older adults. In infants it is often called “cradle cap” and usually goes away on its own within a few months. In adults, it can be triggered by many things including cold, dry weather or stress. It can also be associated with oily skin or hair and some neurologic conditions like Parkinson’s. It is not completely understood why certain people have this condition, but it is thought to be related to a yeast which lives on everyone’s skin as well as excess release of oil from the skin. It is thought that people with seborrheic dermatitis are more reactive to the yeast than people without the condition, resulting in the inflammation and flaking which is associated with it.
How do you treat it
Treatments are not intended to cure, but to manage the disease especially during flares. Typically treatment consists of medicated shampoos, topical corticosteroids or topical antifungal medications. Long-term use of topical corticosteroids can cause thinning of the skin,
so we usually recommend limiting the use of these to flare up periods only and for a maximum of approximately 2 weeks per month. It is usually very helpful to use a medicated shampoo to wash the scalp and even the face on a regular basis to help prevent flare ups. Because this
condition is related to excess oil production, more frequent shampooing, preferably daily, is recommended. Choosing 2 different medicated shampoos and alternating them every time you wash increases their effectiveness. Furthermore, it helps to switch to 2 new medicated
shampoos every 6 months or so.
Ingredients to look for in medicated shampoos
Zinc Pyrithione (ie. Head and Shoulders)
Selenium Sulfide (ie. Selsun Blue)
Salicyclic Acid (ie. Neutrogena T-sal)
Coal Tar (ie. Neutrogena T-gel)
Ketoconazole (ie. Nizoral)
Tea Tree Oil
This is a very common skin condition that is frequently part of a hair loss evaluation. It is characterized by redness and scaling occurring in regions where the oil (sebaceous) glands are very active. Any severe inflammation of the scalp can cause hair loss and should be considered in the work up.