Seborrheic Dermatitis | Is It A Serious Condition?

Seborrheic Dermatitis | Is It A Serious Condition?

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a condition that affects about 11% of the population; it is characterized by red itchy patches and greasy scales on the skin and scalp.

It is also considered a non-contagious disease which means it is not transmitted from one person to another one and it doesn't have any harmful effects on the body or hair.

Some people think that seborrheic dermatitis affects only unclean and infected skin but this isn't true.

In this article we will know more about this condition, we will discuss:

1-Seborrheic dermatitis meaning.

2-Causing, and symptoms.

3-Test for Diagnosis.

4-Treatment, management, and prevention.

We will also answer the questions that you may ask.

1-Seborrheic Dermatitis Meaning :

You may ask about the meaning of the term seborrheic dermatitis, this is a medical term that consists of many parts, first one is the word seborrheic which means ( sebaceous glands)  these are glands found in skin and they are responsible for the production of sebum ( type of fats ) that makes your skin and hair healthy, soft and shiny it also protect you from any harmful organisms that may found on your skin or scalp.

The second part is the term ( derm ) which means skin.

 And the last part is the suffix ( itis ) which means inflammation.

2-Causes Of Seborrheic Dermatitis:

The causes of this condition are not exactly known but there are some factors and causes that are thought to be the reason for this condition.

-Skin lipid ( sebum ) level increases.

-Inflammatory response to something.

-Overgrowth of Malassezia ( a type of yeast found normally on the skin ).

-Androgens level increases.

-Genetic factors ( if you have a family history of psoriasis you may develop seborrheic-dermatitis

Other factors worsen the condition such as :

-Dry and cold weather.


-Using cosmetics and skin products that contain alcohol.

-Oily skin.

3-Symptoms Of Seborrheic-Dermatitis:


-Skin and scalp white flakes.

-Skin red scales.

-Yellow and crusty scales on infants' heads which are called cradle cap.

-Eyelid edge scales and redness which is called blepharitis.

-Flaky patches on the chest and hairline.

-Body folds and genitals redness.

-Hair follicle inflammation.

4-Diagnosis Of Seborrheic-Dermatitis:

Dermatologists can identify this condition easily depending on the appearance of the skin and scalp they don't need any specific blood or urine test but if the condition becomes worse and does not respond to treatments they may perform a skin biopsy.

5-Treatment Of Seborrheic Dermatitis:

Treatment Of Scalp And Hair:

In Babies :

Cradle cap in babies is a self-limiting condition that is cleared up when the baby grows up without the need for any medications.

Some procedures may help to improve the symptoms of your baby for example :

1-Shampooing daily with a mild shampoo.

2-Brush your baby hair with a gentle and soft brush

without scratching the scalp to avoid infection.

3-Massage the scalp with warm olive oil or coconut oil. It will help in removing scales and flakes.

4-Doctors may advise you to use some medicated shampoo and lotions according to your baby's condition.

Adults And Teenagers :

Unfortunately, seborrheic dermatitis in adults and teenagers is not A self-limited condition ( lifelong condition) but the severity of the symptoms differs from time to time according to many factors and sometimes it needs treatments to be controlled.

The type of treatment depends on many factors such as the affected area and the condition severity.

Treatments help to improve the annoying symptoms such as itching and redness.

Your dermatologist may prescribe you :


- Calcineurin inhibitors.

-Topical antifungal shampoo that contains ciclopirox or ketoconazole.

There are some over the counter products which you can use your own such as :

Dandruff shampoo containing zinc, coal tar, or selenium.  You can use it twice a week.

Treatment Of Body And Face:

Many medicated products can be used topically to treat seborrheic dermatitis but you should ask a dermatologist before using it.

This treatment includes :

-Antifungal creams and lotions.


-Calcineurin inhibitors

6-Questions and answers :

Who gets it?

This condition affects about 11% of the population.

It affects a wide range of ages, babies ( younger than three months ), adults, and teenagers.

It's more likely to affect men more than women

And it also affects some races more than others. ( Caucasian more than Africans )

What Are The Common Risk Factors?

Many factors that increase the risk of getting the disease include:

-Some neurologic conditions such as Parkinson's, epilepsy, tardive dyskinesia, and spinal cord injury.

-Some psychiatric conditions such as depression.

-Congenital disorders such as Down syndrome.

-Suppressed immune system such in organ transplantation.

-Some medications such as lithium, haloperidol, chlorpromazine, and buspirone.

-Babies younger than three months.

-Teenagers and adults with high levels of androgens.

-People with oily skin.


What Are The Areas Of The Body That More Affected Than Others?

Areas with high sebaceous glands activity are more likely to be affected such as :

-The upper back.




-Behind the ears.

-Belly button.

-Under breasts.


-Bends of arms and legs.

How could the weather conditions affect the case?

The case becomes worse during the winter because of dry air.

So in summer, you may notice your condition is better.

If You Have Seborrheic- Dermatitis How Can You Take care of yourself?

 At first, you should avoid things that may worsen your condition such as dry weather and stress.

If you suffer from scalp seborrheic-dermatitis you can try one of the nonprescribed dandruff shampoos that we mentioned before.

Note that you should leave the shampoo on your scalp for at least five minutes before you rinse it.

If you have skin seborrheic-dermatitis you should consult with a dermatologist who will prescribe you a suitable treatment for your symptoms.

Summary :

Seborrheic dermatitis is a non-contagious condition that affects skin and scalp. It may be a self-limited condition such as in a cradle cap that affects young babies and sometimes it needs some medications and treatments to manage the symptoms.

It is considered a lifelong condition which means there is no complete cure for it and treatments are used gust to improve the symptoms.

If you suffer from it don't worry it has no harmful effects on your skin or hair.