Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a form of eczema. It develops on the upper back, scalp, and nose, which have a large concentration of oil glands. The exact cause is not clear, although it is believed that hormones, genes, and microorganisms that live on the skin may all contribute. It differs from other types of eczema in that it is not caused by allergies.

Anyone, of any age, can develop seborrheic dermatitis. Cradle cap, a condition common for infants, is a form of seborrheic dermatitis. Individuals with existing conditions that affect the nervous or immune system have a higher likelihood of developing the disease. Symptoms include red skin, swollen, greasy skin, and crusty spots that are white or yellow. The skin may itch or sting.

This skin condition may clear up on its own, but once you develop this condition you may experience chronic flare-ups. Your doctor can help you come up with a treatment plan to minimize flares. If the seborrheic dermatitis is on your scalp, an over-the-counter shampoo containing coal tar, salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione or other anti-dandruff ingredients can help.

If the condition is on other areas of the body, keep the area clean and dry and wash daily. Your doctor may recommend sulfur products, corticosteroids, or antifungal treatments to help clear up flares. Seborrheic dermatitis often responds well to over-the-counter treatments and diligent attention to hygiene.

Seborrheic dermatitis differs from other types of eczema in a variety of ways. Atopic dermatitis, contact dermatitis, and dyshidrotic eczema are often the result of exposure to allergens. Nummular eczema is often triggered by an insect bite or other skin irritation, and statis dermatitis develops as a result of blood flow problems.