What Are Common Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a skin condition that causes flaking, white or yellowed scaling, and red or irritated skin in areas such as the scalp, eyebrows, beard area, chest and groin. Although this can range from mild flaking and dandruff to more severe eczema skin rashes, the skin irritation can be a consistent cause of stress in many.

What Are The Common Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?

“Pinpointing the specific cause of a skin condition like Seborrheic Dermatitis can be tricky,” says Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified Dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. There are a number of risks and inherent immune factors that can lead to the flaking or itching patients experience.


Dandruff in the hair of a person“Malassezia, also known as Pityosporum, is a yeast that naturally inhabits oil glands in the skin,” says Dr. Mamelak. Patients with seborrheic dermatitis are thought to have an abnormal immune response to this yeast, creating an eczema rash on the skin. Specifically, some have suggested that the yeasts’ production of free fatty acid from the breakdown of oil and sweat is what activates patients’ immune responses. “Although yeast counts are not necessarily higher in these patients, this association is the reason why we commonly use anti-yeast creams and shampoos to treat this condition.”


Abnormalities in specific components of the immune system are observed in patients with seborrheic dermatitis. This might be why seborrheic dermatitis patients react to yeast while others do not.

As well, this disease has been shown to flare in patients with suppressed immune systems. Immunodeficiency has actually been considered a common contributor to this condition. Seborrheic dermatitis is observed in patients with organ transplants, HIV and some cancers.


“Many people complain of changes in their skin or a flare in their skin disease during colder months or when in a new climate,” shares Dr. Mamelak. This is also true for seborrheic dermatitis. Like other types of eczema, this condition has been noted to flare in wintertime, as well as spring.


We all know that emotional stress can lead to an exacerbation of a variety of health conditions. A significant percentage of patients have reported their symptoms are associated with stress and that stress can exacerbate their skin disease.


“A patient’s health and their medical conditions can be a large contributing factor to why they might experience seborrheic dermatitis,” says Dr. Mamelak. This type of dermatitis has been linked to health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s, depression, diabetes and obesity as well as alcoholism and eating disorders.


A number of medications have been associated with seborrheic dermatitis. These include psychiatric medications like lithium, buspirone, haldol and chlorpromazine. Interferon, fluorouracil, psoralen and the tuberculosis drug ethionamide have also been associated.

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Are you suffering from Seborrheic Dermatits? Please contact us to consult with one of our skin care experts and find out how you can treat and control your skin condition!

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