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What is it?

Seborrheic dermatitis or seborrheic eczema is a cutaneous disorder of low severity, non-contagious and very common in the population. It consists of a chronic inflammation that causes scales, white or yellow, of unctuous appearance that itch and can occur with or without skin redness. It appears in the greasier areas of the body, such as around the nose, forehead, eyebrows, eyelashes, eyelids, lips, behind the ears and/or chest. A special form, particularly frequent, is the seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, popularly known as dandruff.

It’s not a serious condition but can be very uncomfortable due to itching or lesions that appear on the visible areas of the body. It has two peaks of incidence: during the first year of life and after puberty.

Seborrheic dermatitis in infants, known as cradle cap, is a harmless and temporary condition that usually appears during the first weeks of life up to three years.

Who does it affect?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a very common condition that affects 20% of the population, especially the male sex.

Causes

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown. It’s believed to be due to a combination of different factors:

  • Overproduction of fat on the skin
  • Irritation caused by the fungus Malassezia
  • Genetic factors
  • Neurological conditions (Parkinson’s, head trauma, stroke)
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
  • Hormonal levels
  • Other factors such as: stress, fatigue, extreme climates, inappropriate shampoos, lotions containing alcohol or obesity.

Symptomatology

The most characteristic symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are:

  • White or yellowish skin scales, the known “dandruff”
  • Skin Injuries
  • Scabs
  • Mild redness
  • Oily skin
  • Pruritus
  • Light erythema
  • Hair loss (infrequent)

Treatment

The usual treatment is simple, although the most important thing to preserve the skin without injuries is to perform a maintenance, at least once a week.

Encontramos diferentes opciones terapéuticas:

  • Antifungals to regulate skin flora
  • Anti-inflammatories (corticoids, calcineurin inhibitors)
  • Keratolytics (salicylic acid and urea)
  • Reducers (coaltar saponins)

This last group of treatments, the reducers, are especially useful for seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, since they exist in the form of shampoo and, applied two or three times a week, allow to eliminate the dandruff in most occasions.

Very often, a more intensive shock treatment is required over a period of two or three weeks, followed by a maintenance, of indefinite duration, applied occasionally during the week. Although the treatment is simple, seborrheic dermatitis usually causes notable aesthetic problems to the patient who suffers from it, as it appears in areas especially visible as the face, as mentioned. For this reason, it’s worth consulting with your dermatologist to find the simplest and most effective treatment in your case, to make the redness and scaling disappear.