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Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis

What is seborrheic dermatitis? — Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes redness, scaly or flaky patches, and sometimes itching. It usually affects areas with many oil glands. These include the scalp, face, upper chest, and back. Dandruff is a mild type of seborrheic dermatitis.
Seborrheic dermatitis is common in babies. It is called "cradle cap". Cradle cap can cause redness and greasy yellow scales on the head. It can also cause red patches and greasy scales on the face, diaper area, or other areas.
What are the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis? — In adults, common symptoms include:
Scaly patches on the skin that can look oily or greasy
White scales or flakes on the head or hair – This is the most common symptom of dandruff.
Mild itching
Crusty, yellow material on the eyelashes and eyelid redness
Stress can make seborrheic dermatitis worse. It often gets worse in winter, when the weather is cold and dry. It can get better in summer.
Is there a test for seborrheic dermatitis? — No. There is no one test for seborrheic dermatitis. A doctor or nurse can usually tell if someone has it by doing an exam and asking questions.
If your doctor is not sure you have seborrheic dermatitis, he or she might do a skin biopsy. In this test, the doctor takes a small sample of skin from an affected area. Another doctor looks at the sample under a microscope to see if it is seborrheic dermatitis.
How is seborrheic dermatitis treated? — Treatments include:
Skin creams and ointments – These can help stop itching and redness. They might contain medicines that kill fungus (called "antifungal medicines"), steroid medicine, or other medicines. These are not the same as the steroids some athletes take illegally.
Shampoos with antifungal or steroid medicine
Cradle cap usually goes away on its own. This can take a few weeks or months. If you have questions, ask your baby's doctor or nurse.
Is there anything I can do on my own to feel better? — Yes. Depending on the type of seborrheic dermatitis, there are different treatments you can try. They include:
Using an over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoo (sample brand names: Selsun, Head and Shoulders). Use it every day until you see less dandruff. After that, use it every other day or twice a week. Leave it on your hair for 5 or 10 minutes. Then rinse your hair, making sure you get all the shampoo out. If your dandruff does not get better after 4 to 6 weeks, try a different anti-dandruff shampoo. If your symptoms get worse, see your doctor or nurse.
Using an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream (sample brand names: Ala-Cort, Cortaid) to help stop redness and itching on the face or body. Use it 1 or 2 times a day until the symptoms get better. If they do not get better after 2 weeks, see a doctor or nurse.
If your baby has cradle cap, you can try:
Washing the area with baby shampoo and using a soft toothbrush or fine-tooth comb to remove scaly skin.
Putting a small amount of oil (such as petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, mineral oil, or baby oil) on your baby's head to loosen scaly skin. You can leave this on overnight, if needed. Next, brush the baby's scalp gently with a soft brush to remove scales. Then wash the area with regular baby shampoo (not baby shampoo with medicine in it).
If your baby still has cradle cap after you try these things, talk to your baby's doctor or nurse.
All topics are updated as new evidence becomes available and our peer review process is complete.
This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Mar 30, 2020.
Topic 82948 Version 5.0
Release: 28.2.2 - C28.105
© 2020 UpToDate, Inc. and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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