Seborrheic dermatitis is a red, swollen, and scaly rash on the skin. The skin may also be itchy. It is common on the scalp, ears, eyebrows, face, eyelids, chest, back, armpits, and genitals.
Dandruff is a type of seborrheic dermatitis where there is a scaling of the skin on the scalp.
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Problems may be mild to severe. Symptoms may also come and go over time.
The skin may have:
- Patchy scales that may look greasy or moist
- Yellow to white scales that flake off
- Itching and burning
- Small pimples on the nose, eyebrows, chest, back, arm pits, or genitals
Newborns may have a thick, yellow, crusted scalp rash known as cradle cap.
There is no cure. The rash may get better on its own in children. Baby shampoo, mineral oil, and anti-fungal shampoos can help.
In others, the goal of treatment is to manage symptoms. Choices are:
- Prescription or over the counter shampoos
Prescription or over the counter creams or lotions that contain:
- Hydrocortisone or other cortisone (steroid) preparations
- Antifungal medications
- Antibiotic medication
- Pimecrolimus or tacrolimus
- Lithium salt
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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American Academy of Dermatology https://www.aad.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians https://familydoctor.org
Canadian Dermatology Association https://www.dermatology.ca
Health Canada https://www.canada.ca
Ijaz N, Fitzgerald D. Seborrhoeic dermatitis. Br J Hosp Med (Lond). 2017 Jun 2;78(6):C88-C91.
Seborrheic dermatitis: overview. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/scaly-skin/seborrheic-dermatitis. Accessed March 23, 2021.
Seborrheic dermatitis in children and adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seborrheic-dermatitis-in-children-and-adults. Accessed March 23, 2021.
Seborrheic dermatitis in infants. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seborrheic-dermatitis-in-infants. Accessed March 23, 2021.
3/12/2018 DynaMed Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/condition/seborrheic-dermatitis-in-children-and-adults: Karakadze MA, Hirt PA, et al. The genetic basis of seborrhoeic dermatitis: a review. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2017 Nov 20.