Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder that can be easily treated. This condition is a red, scaly, itchy rash most commonly seen on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyebrows, eyelids, behind the ears, and middle of the chest. Dandruff appears as scaling on the scalp without redness. Seborrhea is excessive oiliness of the skin, especially of the scalp and face, without redness or scaling. Patients with seborrhea often develop seborrheic dermatitis. This condition is most common in three age groups a infancy when it's called "cradle cap," middle age, and the elderly. Cradle cap usually clears without treatment by age 8 to 12 months. In some infants, seborrheic dermatitis may develop only in the diaper area where it may be confused with other forms of diaper rash. When seborrheic dermatitis develops at other ages it usually comes and goes. Seborrheic dermatitis may be seasonally aggravated particularly in northern climates.
Seborrheic dermatitis may occur in patients with diseases of the nervous system, such as Parkinson's disease. Patients recovering from stressful medical conditions, such as a heart attack, may also develop this problem. People in hospitals or nursing homes and those with a compromised immune system appear to be more prone to this disorder as well.
Seborrheic dermatitis may get better on its own, but with regular treatments, the condition improves quickly. However, there is no way to cure seborrheic dermatitis and it often will recur.
Gentle shampooing with a mild shampoo is helpful for infants with cradle cap. Mild corticosteroid creams and lotions, or topical anti-fungal medications may also be applied to the affected areas of skin. Adult patients may need to use a medicated shampoo and a stronger corticosteroid preparation. Non-prescription shampoos containing tar, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, and/or salicylic acid may be recommended by a dermatologist, or a prescription shampoo, cream gel, or foam may be given.