A very common skin condition, seborrheic dermatitis affects more than three million people every year. It causes itchy, red skin or rashes with white scales. If you have this condition, you’ll find it on your scalp, face, forehead, and on the folds of skin around your nose, eyes, ears and eyelids. When it appears on your body, you’ll see it on the folds of the skin — including under your arms, below your breasts and around your groin, buttocks and navel.
On an infant’s scalp, seborrhea is called “cradle cap.” If a child gets cradle cap, the seborrheic dermatitis usually resolves itself, although the child is more likely to see a reoccurrence during puberty. On adult scalps, the condition is called dandruff, and it requires treatment. Typically, seborrheic dermatitis can be an acute or chronic condition lasting anywhere from months to years or through your lifetime.
It usually can be cured or symptoms resolved within months after an accurate diagnosis. But seborrheic dermatitis can be mistaken for other skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis. If you’re experiencing persistent dry skin anywhere on your body, make an appointment with your dermatologist in New York.
All symptoms and skin findings should always evaluated with a thorough consultation and physical examination for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan in order to exclude any underlying serious condition.
Seborrhea symptoms can differ among individuals in both duration and intensity. Most common symptoms appear on your face in the skin folds. Other common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Rashes anywhere on your body, but usually on your face
- Dry skin that can be itchy and red
- Flaky skin; the flakes may be white, yellow or gray
- Peeling skin occurring in patches of red irritated skin, commonly on your scalp
- Red and irritated patches
- Patches of oily skin covered in white or yellow flaky scales, often in folds of your skin
- Persistent dandruff
- Unexplained hair loss
- Scaly pimple-like bumps usually along your hairline
- Soreness of your skin
- In infants, crusty, sometimes yellow skin on the scalp or persistent diaper rash, since itching isn’t common with infants
The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are uncomfortable and can even be miserable and embarrassing. They can cause anxiety and self-esteem issues. Medical diagnosis and treatment are needed to cure the physical conditions, but pay attention to outside factors that could make these symptoms worse.
Causes of Seborrhea
While seborrheic dermatitis is still not fully understood, a number of environmental factors and other illnesses may increase the likelihood that you’ll get the condition. There may be a genetic predisposition to seborrhea. Seborrhea is more common in infants, the elderly, men, and people with oily skin. Environmental factors that can cause seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Cold weather
- Dry weather
- Fungal growth
- Change in seasons
- Lack of nutrients, especially zinc, biotin, vitamin B6, and B2
- In children, too much vitamin A
Diseases that often are associated with seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Heart disease
- Eating disorders
- Stroke recovery
- A weakened immune system
- A hormone imbalance
- Neurological disorders
Psychological triggers can also cause seborrhea flare-ups:
- Mood disorders
- Reduced general health
With seborrheic dermatitis, it’s important to look after your overall health to prevent flare-ups and keep the condition manageable. It’s a good idea to track anything in your life that might agitate your seborrhea. Keep a journal of your diet and emotional well-being and share it with your Manhattan dermatologist for a comprehensive approach to tackling your seborrheic dermatitis.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Seborrheic dermatitis requires a medical diagnosis by your dermatologist in NYC. Because it’s frequently mistaken for other conditions, you can’t self-diagnose this condition. Besides, seborrhea treatment requires prescription medicine. Most over-the-counter options only reduce the severity of symptoms; they don’t cure seborrhea.
If you’re experiencing any of the seborrheic dermatitis symptoms, make an appointment with your New York City dermatologist as soon as possible. In addition to diagnosing your seborrhea, your dermatologist can put together a treatment plan to prevent future flare-ups, making your condition more manageable.
When your seborrhea is caused by another medical condition, treating the underlying issue cures you of the seborrhea. For some, seborrhea can be treated and cured, but for others, it is a lifelong condition that requires constant management. Most common treatments include:
- Good general skin care: Caring for your overall health and having good skin care habits is your best chance for keeping your seborrhea manageable.
- Coal tar products: Coal tar is known for it’s skin-soothing qualities. It can give immediate relief to the symptoms of itching and dryness.
- Salicylic acid: This chemical peel works by breaking down the thick top layer of skin while also increasing the amount of moisture in the skin.
- Selenium sulfide: Products containing selenium sulfide are good for soothing the symptoms and reducing the flaking of dry skin. It’s a common ingredient in shampoos for dandruff.
- Ketoconazole: This product eases your seborrheic dermatitis when it’s caused by fungal infections. Ketoconazole has some side effects, so use it only under the direct supervision of your dermatologist in Manhattan.
- Ciclopirox: Ciclopirox shampoo treats the yeast that commonly causes dandruff.
- Zinc pyrithione: This ingredient is typically found in dandruff shampoos, along with other products that help cure seborrheic dermatitis.
- Antifungal products: Antifungal creams and shampoos are effective alongside other treatments because they help with symptoms.
- Sulfur products: Sulfur products are commonly included with other treatment options. They reduce swelling and itching of your affected areas by removing the outer tough layer of skin.
- Light therapy: Light therapy treatments are UV applications to your affected areas and can be quite effective.
- Corticosteroid lotions: These products can be effective at quickly relieving some of your irritating symptoms.
- Prescription-strength medicated shampoo: These shampoos are much stronger than anything you can get over the counter, so they’re much more effective at soothing symptoms and curing seborrhea.
Now that you’re aware of seborrheic dermatitis, your best option is prevention. But your best in class NYC dermatologist can help get you on a care regimen to best keep your seborrheic dermatitis in check and help you prevent future flare-ups. Learn more about the seborrheic dermatitis treatments available from your dermatologist.
Important Reminder: This information is only intended to provide guidance, not a definitive medical advice. Please consult dermatologist NYC about your specific condition. Only a trained, experienced board certified dermatology doctor or pediatric dermatologist can determine an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment.
Do you have any questions about Seborrheic Dermatitis? Would like to schedule an appointment with an internationally recognized, best in class NYC dermatologist, Dr. Susan Bard of Manhattan Dermatology Specialists, please contact our Midtown NYC office for consultation with cosmetic and laser dermatologist.