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Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder that mainly affects the scalp, causing scaly, itchy, red skin and stubborn dandruff. For infants, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is known as cradle cap. In addition to the scalp, seborrheic dermatitis can also affect the face, upper chest, back and other oily areas of the body.
It’s neither harmful nor contagious, but seborrheic dermatitis can be uncomfortable and unsightly. You may be able to treat seborrheic dermatitis yourself by recognizing its signs and symptoms and by using a combination of self-care steps and over-the-counter (nonprescription) medications.
Seborrhoeic dermatitis or Seborrhoeic eczema is a skin disorder affecting the scalp, face, and trunk causing scaly, flaky, itchy, red skin. It particularly affects the sebum-gland rich areas of skin.
Common signs and symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include:
*Patchy scaling or thick crusts on the scalp
*Yellow or white scales that may attach to the hair shaft
*Red, greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales
*Small, reddish-brown bumps
*Itching or soreness
*Skin flakes or dandruf
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Severe persistent seborrheic dermatitis of the inframammary folds.
Seborrheic dermatitis predominately affects the scalp but can occur between folds of skin and on skin rich in oil glands. These include in and between your eyebrows, the sides of your nose and behind your ears, over your breastbone, your groin area, and sometimes your armpits. You may experience periods when your signs and symptoms improve alternating with times when they become worse.
In infants, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is known as cradle cap. The patches may be thick, yellow, crusty or greasy. In most cases, the condition isn’t itchy for infants like it is for older children or adults.
Side effects to inflammation may include temporary hair loss. If severe outbreaks go untreated for long periods of time, permanent hair loss may result due to damaged hair follicles.
Expect two to six months before hair growth may resume.
Though the exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis isn’t known, several contributing factors seem to play a role, including an abnormality of the oil glands and hair follicles. People with this disorder seem to have increased oil (sebum) production.
It’s also thought that in some people, a yeast (fungus) called malassezia grows in the sebum along with bacteria. Antifungal treatments, such as ketoconazole (Nizoral), are often effective, supporting the idea that yeast is a contributing factor.
Outbreaks may be linked with production of certain hormones, physical stress, fatigue, travel, change of season â€” outbreaks are usually worse in the winter â€” or illness. Seborrheic dermatitis may also occur more frequently in people who have neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease.
Seborrheic dermatitis may also accompany acne rosacea, an inflammatory skin condition that causes redness of the face. However, the vast majority of people with seborrheic dermatitis have no other associated skin conditions.
The widely present yeast, Malassezia furfur (formerly known as Pityrosporum ovale), is involved, as well as genetic, environmental, hormonal, and immune-system factors. A suggestion that seborrhoeic dermatitis is an inflammatory response to this yeast has yet to be proven. Those afflicted with seborrhoeic dermatitis have an unfavourable epidermic response to the infection, with the skin becoming inflamed and flaking.
In children, excessive vitamin A intake can cause seborrhoeic dermatitis. Lack of biotin, pyridoxine (vitamin B6) and riboflavin (vitamin B2) may also be a cause.
Your doctor may diagnose seborrheic dermatitis after talking to you about your symptoms and examining your skin and scalp. Sometimes, a skin biopsy or other tests are necessary to confirm the diagnosis and to rule out other types of dermatitis.
Conditions that are similar to seborrheic dermatitis include:
*Atopic dermatitis. This form of dermatitis is a chronic condition that causes itchy, inflamed skin. Most often, it occurs in the folds of the elbows, backs of the knees or the front of the neck. It tends to flare periodically and then subside for a time, even up to several years.
*Psoriasis. A skin disorder characterized by dry, red, skin covered with silvery scales. Like seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis can affect the scalp and cause flaky dandruff. Psoriasis patches can range from a few spots of dandruff-like scaling to major eruptions that cover large areas of the body.
*Ringworm of the scalp (tinea capitis). Ringworm of the scalp is a type of fungal infection that is most common in toddlers and school-age children. It causes red, itchy, bald-looking patches on the scalp.
There’s no cure for seborrheic dermatitis, but treatments can control its signs and symptoms. Treatment depends on your skin type, the severity of your condition and where it appears on your body.
Soaps and detergents such as sodium laureth sulfate may precipitate a flare-up, as they strip moisture from the top layers of the skin, and the drying property of these can cause flare-ups and may worsen the condition. Accordingly a suitable alternative should be used instead.
Among dermatologist recommended treatments are shampoos containing coal tar, ciclopiroxolamine ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or zinc pyrithione. For severe disease, keratolytics such as salicylic acid or coal tar preparations may be used to remove dense scale. Topical terbinafine solution (1%) has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of scalp seborrhoea, as may lotions containing alpha hydroxy acids or corticosteroids. Pimecrolimus topical lotion is also sometimes prescribed.
Chronic treatment with topical corticosteroids may lead to permanent skin changes, such as atrophy and telangiectasia.
UV-A and UV-B light inhibit the growth of M. furfur, although caution should be taken to avoid sun damage.
Those with seborrhoeic dermatitis might benefit from biotin supplements. One might also try a humidifier by the bed, as well as a gentle moisturizer with or without oatmeal.
Medicated shampoos are the first step in treating seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. Choose an over-the-counter shampoo that contains one of the following ingredients:
- Pyrithione zinc
- Selenium sulfide
- Salicylic acid
Try using the shampoo daily until your symptoms are controlled, then cut back to two or three times a week. If one type of shampoo works for a time and then seems to lose its effectiveness, try alternating between two types of dandruff shampoos. Be sure to leave the shampoo on for at least five minutes â€” this allows the ingredients time to work.
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The World Health Organization mentions Aloe vera gel as a yet to be scientifically proven traditional medicine treatment for Seborrhoeic dermatitis.
*Arctium lappa (Burdock) oil
*Chelidonium majus (Celandine)
*Glycyrrhiza glabra (Licorice)
*Melaleuca (Tea tree) species
*Plantago (Plantain) species
*Symphytum officinale (Comfrey)
*Zingiber officinale (Ginger) root juice
The following over-the-counter treatments and self-care tips can help you control and manage seborrheic dermatitis.
*Shampoo daily. Use an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains selenium sulfide, tar, pyrithione zinc, salicylic acid or ketoconazole as the active ingredient. Use a different shampoo with varying active ingredients each week for three weeks. Then repeat the rotation.
*Use an over-the-counter antifungal cream. Daily application of nonprescription clotrimazole (Lotrimin) may be helpful.
*Apply an anti-itch cream or lotion to the affected area. A nonprescription hydrocortisone cream, containing at least 1 percent hydrocortisone, can temporarily relieve the itch.
*Avoid harsh soaps and detergents. Be sure to rinse the soap completely off your body.
*Wear smooth-textured cotton clothing. This will help you avoid irritation.
*Avoid scratching whenever possible. Cover the itchy area with a dressing, if you can’t keep from scratching it. Trim nails and wear gloves at night.
Cradle cap usually clears up on its own within a few months. In the meantime, wash your baby’s hair once a day with mild baby shampoo. Loosen the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush before rinsing off the shampoo.
If the scales don’t loosen easily, rub a few drops of mineral oil onto your baby’s scalp. Let the oil soak into the scales for a few minutes, and then brush and shampoo your baby’s hair as usual. If you leave the oil in your baby’s hair, it may only allow more scales to accumulate on your baby’s scalp.
If cradle cap persists or seems severe, your doctor may suggest a medicated (antifungal) shampoo, lotion or other treatment.
Disclaimer: This information is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advise or help. It is always best to consult with a Physician about serious health concerns. This information is in no way intended to diagnose or prescribe remedies.This is purely for educational purpose.