Seborrheic dermatitis is a dry, flaky, itchy rash that most commonly affects the scalp. It can also affect the face and inside and around the ears. The most common areas of involvement on the face are the forehead, eyebrows, sides of the nose and around the mouth. In men, the sideburn area, beard, mustache areas, and mid-chest are often involved. Even the underarms and groin area can be affected. When the condition is mild, patients often complain of “dry skin” on their face or scalp. The problem may worsen without regular shampooing of the scalp. When it is severe, seborrheic dermatitis can be extremely itchy and irritating. Scratching can lead to sores or open areas which can develop a Staph bacterial infection, making the symptoms worse.
Seborrheic dermatitis is thought to be caused by a “yeast-like” organism that is a normal inhabitant of the skin. Some people’s skin becomes irritated from this yeast, which leads to the development of the characteristic scaly, itchy rash.
Treatment of seborrheic dermatitis
Cutting down on the yeast can quiet down the irritation and inflammation. Treatment options include:
- Medicated shampoos (containing zinc, tar, salicylic acid, or anti-yeast/anti-fungal compounds)
- Topical steroids
- Topical anti-yeast creams
It is important to realize that seborrheic dermatitis can be controlled, but there is no treatment that permanently cures the problem. Once the rash has resolved, some type of maintenance treatment is needed to keep the yeast to a minimum.
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