Seborrheic Dermatitis: From Dandruff To Cradle Cap And Everything In Between
Seborrheic Dermatitis is an extremely common dermatologic condition that is generally considered a type of eczema. It is known for its ability to mimic other skin conditions like psoriasis and even allergic reactions. Your dermatologist can ensure that you are properly diagnosed and placed on the appropriate treatment for your condition.
What Are the Symptoms?
As with most types of eczema, a red, scaly irritated rash is noted on the skin. “Patients with seborrheic dermatitis will often complain of scaling or excessive flaking. This is often accompanied with itching or irritation in the affected areas of their skin,” states Dr. Adam Mamelak, a board certified Dermatologist at Sanova Dermatology in Austin, Texas. Areas most-often effected by this condition include the scalp, eyebrows, nasolabial folds, and corners of the mouth. The beard area, chest and groin can be affected causing flaking and discomfort as well. In general, these areas are rich in sebum and sebaceous glands. On the skin, the rash appears red and slightly oily, with yellow-colored crust and scales. Seborrheic dermatitis is one of the most common causes of dandruff when it develops on the scalp.
“Seborrheic dermatitis in babies and young children is commonly called Cradle Cap,” says Dr. Miriam Hanson, board-certified dermatologist in Austin. Cradle cap can appear within the first 3 months and typically disappears around one year of age. “In newborns, seborrheic dermatitis is also one of the most common causes of diaper rash,” adds Dr. Hanson.
What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?
The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known, but there have been correlations to allergies, vitamin deficiency, and nervous or immune system irregularities. “The most common cause of this condition is a reaction to a yeast called Malassezia. This yeast is a normal inhabitant of our skin’s oil glands,” explains Dr. Mamelak. While this yeast is not necessarily overgrown in affected individuals, it is thought that the yeast’s interaction with the body’s immune system is what leads to redness, itching and flaking. Flares have been associated with stress, changes in the weather/seasons and a few medical conditions including Parkinson’s disease and AIDS.
How Is It Treated?
There is no guaranteed cure for seborrheic dermatitis, and some may experience exacerbation and periods of quiescence over time. A major goal of treatment is helping patients manage their symptoms and ultimately put the condition into remission. “Topical steroid creams and solutions help minimize the discomfort and irritation, while anti-yeast shampoos and other preparations can be used to decrease Malassezia counts and ultimately lower yeast’s interaction the immune system,” says Dr.Hanson. Other topical keratolytic agents like salicylic acid, zinc- and selenium-based shampoos, topical anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial preparations have been used with good success. Extreme or unresponsive patients may require phototherapy or systemic treatment to get their condition under control.