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  Seborrhoeic dermatitis

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is rash affecting the skin, most commonly on the scalp and face, but sometimes other areas of the body. Seborrhoeic dermatitis is generally appears on oily skin.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis
Seborrhoeic dermatitis


Seborrhoeic dermatitis, a scaling harmless rash, appears on the edge of the eyelids close to the eye, on the skin under the eyebrows, inside and behind the ears and on the creases next to the nostrils of the nose. At the hair line seborrhoeic dermatitis produces pink patches that are either round or ring shaped. Seborrhoeic dermatitis, when on the eyelids is referred to as blephartitis. The flakes or scales of this skin disease appear yellow or brown. The flakes are similar in bran flakes in shape and thickness. Seborrhoeic dermatitis can spread to infect the entire scalp. In the case of a scalp infection, seborrhoeic dermatitis is referred to as dandruff in the United States.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis can also affect the groin, armpits, chest or upper back. On these areas of the body, the symptoms may be itchy bran shaped yellow or white flakes or red or pink rings over the whole area. This skin condition may or may not be itchy the itchiness may vary from day to day.

Hair loss may be present on patches of seborrhoeic dermatitis.


The diagnosis of seborrhoeic dermatitis is made through observation of a physician or medical practitioner. This condition is commonly confused with psoriasis, which has scales or flakes that are large, thick and white as opposed to seborrhoeic dermatitis flakes which are small, think and yellow or white. Sometimes physicians may make a combination diagnosis referred to as sebo-psoriasis.


Though the exact cause is not known, doctors and researchers believe seborrhoeic dermatitis is caused by an inflammation caused by an over production of the yeast – malassezia genus. This yeast was previously known as Pityrosporum ovale and is a common skin inhabitant. Patients with seborrhoeic dermatitis have been observed to have a reduced immunity to the presence of this yeast and react with inflammation and itching.

This disease is not contagious and diet does not influence it. Seborrhoeic dermatitis episodes can be brought on or aggravated by illness, psychological stress, fatigue, change of season and reduced general health. A person with HIV, neurological disorders are prone to suffer from seborrhoeic dermatitis.


Treatment options for seborrhoeic dermatitis are numerous. Some treatments are aimed at controlling the symptoms – such as itching and flaking. Other treatments are used to control the yeast overgrowth on the skin surface.

Here are typical treatments for seborrhoeic dermatitis:

 Topical and oral corticosteroids for severe cases
 Oral corticosteroids
 Topical and oral anti-fungal medications
 De-scaling agents (keratolytics)
 Topical immuno-modulators
 alpha lipoic acid
 aloe vera
 anti-androgens
 antihistamines
 aspirin
 b-complex vitamins
 blue light kills off the malasezzia yeast
 borage oil
 boswellia extract
 cod liver
 crude honey
 cyclosporin
 evening primrose oil
 flax seed oil
 fish oil
 glycerin
 green tea
 isotretinoin (accutane
 low carb diet
 low yeast diet
 methotrexate
 metronidazole
 narrow-band ultraviolet B light
 olive leaf extract
 probiotics PUVA (psoralen plus ultraviolet A
 sun exposure
 turmeric
 vinegar
 zinc oxide

Prevention or ongoing treatment

Good skin care is necessary to avoid increased damage and irritation to the patients with seborrhoeic dermatitis. Patients first need to determine their overall skin type, with the help of their physician and then pick the skin cleanser that is appropriate for them.

For most patients, mild, fragrance free and hypo-allergenic cleanser are a correct approach to skin hygiene. These products are usually the least irritating to sufferers of seborrhoeic dermatitis. When an episode of seborrhoeic dermatitis is severe, patients are commonly recommended to wash only with water that is warm – not hot without any cleanser.

Letting skin air dry is recommended for patients with seborrhoeic dermatitis – towel drying rubs away oil that helps prevent episodes. If moisturizer is prescribed, applying it to damp or wet skin is very beneficial.

Dry skin should be washed only once a day. Combination dry/oily skin benefits from washing once a day the entire area and then only washing the oily section a second time. Another option for dry/oily combination skin is to wash the dry areas with only water and the oily areas with a proper cleanser. Moisturizer should only be applied to the dry areas of the skin. For oily skin, cleaning twice a day may be the correct approach- but mild cleansers and cool or warm water are recommended. Too much cleansing can weaken the skin surface causing further irritation.

Medicated shampoos can be used for affected scalps. Physicians and pharmacists can make recommendations for patients with seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp. Medication is also available for applying to hair and scalp after washing. Things to be avoided are drying hair, or drying hair with hot setting or hair products that further irritation.

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