What it is
Seborrheic dermatitis, sometimes referred to as “Seb-Derm”, is an inflammatory skin condition associated with the oily areas of the body. It most commonly affects the scalp, areas around the face and ears, upper chest, back, armpits and scrotum, but can also affect other oily parts of the body.
Common skin and scalp symptoms are redness, flaking, and white to yellow scaly or crusty patches that often appear greasy. Irritation, itching and/or stinging often occurs. Seborrheic dermatitis is a long-term condition that may need many treatments and frequent flare-ups are common. It is not contagious, it is not an allergy, and it is not a sign of poor personal hygiene.
Seborrheic dermatitis is also referred to as seborrheic eczema and seborrheic psoriasis. When it is confined to the scalp, it is often referred to as dandruff. In infants, it is known as cradle cap.
While the causes of this condition are complex, a common yeast (fungus) normally found in oil secretions has been associated with seborrheic dermatitis. Over-the-counter (OTC) medicated shampoos and cleansers containing Pyrithione Zinc (ZNP bar soap – zinc soap) have anti-fungal properties and can help control and reduce the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Creams containing a mild corticosteroid such as Hydrocortisone 1% can help relieve the itching associated with seborrheic dermatitis.
If symptoms worsen or do not improve after use of an over-the-counter product, or if you suspect your skin is infected, see a doctor. A dermatologist can provide more rigorous or specialized treatment options with prescription strength skin and hair care products.