Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder that can be easily treated. This condition is a red, scaly, itchy rash most commonly seen on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyebrows, eyelids, skin behind the ears, and middle of the chest. Other areas, such as the navel (belly button), buttocks, skin folds under the arms, auxillary regions, breasts, and groin, may also be involved.

Are Dandruff, Seborrhea and Seborrheic Dermatitis the same?

Dandruff appears as scaling on the scalp without redness. Seborrhea is excessive oiliness of the skin, especially of the scalp and face, without redness or scaling. Patients with Seborrhea may later develop Seborrheic Dermatitis. Seborrheic Dermatitis has both redness and scaling.

Who gets Seborrheic Dermatitis?

This condition is most common in three age groups - infancy when it's called "cradle cap," middle age, and the elderly. Cradle cap usually clears without treatment by age 8 to 12 months. In some infants, Seborrheic Dermatitis may develop only in the diaper area where it could be confused with other forms of diaper rash. When Seborrheic Dermatitis develops at other ages it can come and go. Seborrheic Dermatitis may be seasonally aggravated particularly in northern climates; it is common in people with oily skin or hair, and may be seen with acne or psoriasis. A yeast-like organism may be involved in causing Seborrheic Dermatitis.

How long does this disease last?

Seborrheic Dermatitis may get better on its own, but with regular treatments, the condition improves quickly.

Can it be prevented or cured?

There is no way to prevent or cure Seborrheic Dermatitis. However, it can be controlled with treatment.

Are laboratory tests useful in diagnosing this disease?

For most patients, there is no need to perform blood, urine, or allergy tests. In rare cases of chronic Seborrheic Dermatitis that do not respond to treatment, a skin biopsy or other laboratory testing may be done to eliminate the possibility of another disease.