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Seborrheic dermatitis is a prevalent skin condition that mainly affects your scalp. It produces red skin, scaly patches, and stubborn dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis can also impact oily areas of the body, such as on the face, eyebrows, ears, sides of the nose, eyelids, and chest.
Seborrheic dermatitis may require treatment. Alternatively, you may require many subsequent therapies before the symptoms go away. Moreover, they may return later. Daily cleansing with shampoo or gentle soap can help decrease oiliness and dead skin buildup.
Seborrheic dermatitis is also referred to as seborrheic eczema, dandruff, and seborrheic psoriasis. For infants, the condition is known as cradle cap and causes crusty, scaly patches on the scalp.
Seborrheic dermatitis signs and symptoms may include:
- Skin flakes (dandruff) on your scalp, hair, eyebrows, mustache or beard
- Patches of greasy skin coated with yellow flaky white or crust on the scalp, face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, chest, armpits, groin area or under the breasts
- Red skin
The symptoms and signs can be more difficult if you’re stressed, and they tend to flare in cold, dry seasons.
When to see a physician
See your doctor if:
You’re so uncomfortable that you’re missing sleep or being distracted from your daily routines
Your condition is generating embarrassment and anxiety
You presume your skin is infected
You’ve examined self-care steps without success
Doctors don’t yet know the precise cause of seborrheic dermatitis. It may be related to:
A yeast (fungus) referred to as Malassezia that is in the oil secretion on the skin
An abnormal reaction of the immune system
Some factors raise your risk of contracting seborrheic dermatitis, including:
Psychiatric and neurologic conditions, such as depression and Parkinson’s disease
A compromised immune system, such as seen in organ transplant recipients and people with alcoholic pancreatitis, HIV/AIDS, and some cancers
Reconstruction from stressful medical conditions, such as a heart attack
Your physician will likely be able to decide whether you have seborrheic dermatitis by checking your skin. He or she may scrape off skin cells for analysis (biopsy) to rule out ailments with symptoms similar to seborrheic dermatitis, including:
- Psoriasis. This disorder also causes dandruff and red skin coated with flakes and scales. With psoriasis, usually you’ll have new scales, and they’ll be silvery white.
- Atopic dermatitis (eczema). This skin responds causes itching, swelling, and reddening, skin in the creases and wrinkles of the elbows, on the front of the neck. Alternatively, on the backs of the knees. It often returns.
- Tinea versicolor. This rash develops on the trunk but is typically not red like seborrheic dermatitis spots.
Rosacea. This condition occurs typically on the face and has very little scaliness.
Medicated creams, shampoos, and lotions are the primary treatments for seborrheic dermatitis. Your physician will likely recommend you try home remedies, such as over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, before considering prescription remedies. If home treatments don’t benefit, discuss with your physician about trying these treatments.
Creams, shampoos or ointments that manage inflammation. Prescription-strength desonide (Desowen, Desonate) fluocinolone (Capex, Synalar), hydrocortisone, and clobetasol (Clobex, Cormax) are corticosteroids you apply to the scalp or another damaged area. They are practical and simple to use but should be used sparingly. If used for many weeks or months without a break, they can produce side effects, such as thinner skin or skin revealing streaks or lines.
Creams or lotions containing the calcineurin inhibitors tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) may be effective and have fewer side effects than corticosteroids do. However, they are not first-choice treatments because the Food and Drug Administration has concerns about a possible association with cancer. Besides, tacrolimus and pimecrolimus cost more than mild corticosteroid medications.
Antifungal gels, creams or shampoos substituted with a different medication. Based on the affected area and the severity of your symptoms, your physician may prescribe a product with 2 percent ketoconazole (Nizoral) or 1 percent ciclopirox. Alternatively, your doctor may prescribe both products to be used alternately.
The antifungal medication you take as a pill. If your condition isn’t improving with other treatments, your doctor may recommend an antifungal medication in pill form. These aren’t the first choice for treatment due to possible drug interactions and side effects.
Lifestyle and home remedies
You may be able to manage seborrheic dermatitis with lifestyle changes and home remedies. Many of these are available in over-the-counter (nonprescription) forms. You may require to try different products or a mixture of products before your condition improves.
The best approach for you depends on your skin type, the difficulty of your condition, and whether your symptoms affect your scalp or other areas of your body. However, even if your condition clears up, it is likely to come back at some point. Watch for the symptoms and continue treating the condition when it recurs.
Wash your scalp regularly
If regular shampoo doesn’t assist with dandruff, try over-the-counter dandruff shampoos. They are categorized according to the popular ingredient they contain:
- Selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue)
- Tar (Neutrogena T/Gel, DHS Tar)
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral A-D)
- Salicylic acid (Neutrogena T/Sal)
- Pyrithione zinc (Dermazinc, Head & Shoulders)
Use a product regularly until your signs and symptoms begin to subside, and then use it one to three times a week as required. Shampoo that comprises tar can discolor light-colored hair, so you may need to use other products.
If one type of shampoo operates for a time and then seems to lose its effectiveness, try rotating between two or more types. Be sure to leave your shampoo on for the full prescribed time — this allows its ingredients to work. These shampoos may be rubbed gently on the face, ears, and chest and rinsed off completely.
Other home remedies
The following over-the-counter treatments and self-care tips may help you control seborrheic dermatitis:
- Soften and remove scales from your hair. Apply mineral oil or olive oil to your scalp. Leave it in for an hour or so. Then comb or brush your hair and wash it.
- Gently wash your skin regularly. Rinse the soap completely off your body and scalp. Avoid heavy and harsh soap with many chemicals and use a moisturizer.
- Apply a medicated cream. First apply a mild corticosteroid cream on concerned areas, keeping it away from the eyes. If that does not help, try the antifungal cream ketoconazole.
- Do not use styling products. Stop applying hair gels, sprays, and other styling products while you are treating seborrheic dermatitis.
- Avoid skin and hair products that have alcohol. These can cause the disease to flare up.
- Wear light and silklike -textured cotton clothing. This helps maintain air circulating around your skin and decreases irritation.
- If you have a beard or mustache, facial shampoo hair regularly. Seborrheic dermatitis can be worse under mustaches and beards. Shampoo with 1 percent ketoconazole daily until your symptoms improve. Then switch to shampooing `once a week. Alternatively, shaving might ease your symptoms.
- Gently clean your eyelids. If your eyelids exhibit symptoms of redness or scaling, wash them every night with baby shampoo and clean away scales with a cotton swab. Warm or hot compresses also may reduce some of the swelling and irritation.
Gently wash your baby’s scalp. If your child has cradle cap, wash the scalp with non-medicated baby shampoo at least once a day. Gently release the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush before flushing out the shampoo. If scaling continues, apply mineral oil to the scalp for a couple of hours
Many alternative therapies, including those noted below, have helped some people manage their seborrheic dermatitis. However, evidence for their effectiveness isn’t conclusive. It’s typically a good idea to discuss adding any alternative medicines with your doctor before you start your self-care routine.
Tea tree oil. Tea tree oil, either by itself or in soap, may be utilized on the troubled area. Some studies indicate that tea tree oil may trigger an allergic reaction, so you should use with caution.
Fish oil supplements. These types of pills contain omega-3 fatty acids.
Aloe vera. Apply to the affected area aloe vera gel, either in a product or directly from a cut leaf of the plant.