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Seborrheic Dermatitis

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that causes flaking of the skin. It usually affects the scalp. In adolescents and adults, seborrheic dermatitis is commonly called dandruff. In babies, seborrheic dermatitis is commonly called cradle cap.

Seborrheic dermatitis may involve the skin of the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, nasolabial creases, lips, behind the ears, in the external ear, the creases of the arms, legs and groin, and the skin of the trunk. Seborrheic dermatitis usually causes the skin to look a little greasy and scaly or flaky.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that affects millions of Americans. It is not contagious.

Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis

There are several symptoms. The most common symptoms of Seborrheic dermatitis are:

  • Skin lesions
  • Greasy, oily areas of skin
  • Skin scales (white and flaking, or yellowish, oily, and adherent)
  • Mild redness
  • Hair loss

What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis isn't known. However, it has been linked to neurologic disorders such as Parkinson's disease and epilepsy.

Can Seborrheic Dermatitis be treated?

Yes. Treatment options will depend on the patient's age and the location of the body it affects. The most common treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp in adults and adolescents is to treat the scalp with a shampoo that contains salicylic acid, the prescription medicine selenium sulfide, or pyrithione zinc. Several shampoo treatments may be needed.

If the shampoo alone doesn't help, your doctor might want you to use a prescription steroid lotion once or twice daily, in addition to the shampoo.

The most common treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the skin creases in adolescents and adults is application of a steroid lotion.

Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp in babies is treated with products that are not as strong as those used in adults.

Seborrheic dermatitis of the skin creases in babies is treated with gentle steroid lotions or creams.

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