Seborrheic Dermatitis: A Long-Term Skin Disorder

What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

oily skin

Seborrheic dermatitis is a long-term disorder of the skin that results in oily, irritated, scaly patches. The areas most affected are typically the face, scalp and chest. This is a common condition, affecting more than 3 million people in the US alone. It is most frequently found in infants, adolescents and people over 50 years old.

Causes

Many cases of seborrheic dermatitis occur with no known cause and resolve on their own as the patient ages. Other instances of seborrheic dermatitis are the result of poor hygiene, such as not washing the skin or scalp often enough. Some cases can be linked to underlying conditions including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Excessive oil production from skin
  • Infection with the Malassezia fungus
  • Pollution Exposure
  • Abnormal immune response
  • Certain Neurological conditions
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Cold or dry season
  • Weakened immune system post organ transplant
  • HIV
  • Cancer treatment
  • Heart attack
  • Certain medications

Types

There is only one type of seborrheic dermatitis.

Symptoms

  • Scaly, irritated patches
  • Burning and itching skin
  • Oozing skin
  • Greasy, oily skin

dermatitis

Diagnosis

While your primary care physician can diagnose seborrheic dermatitis, they will likely refer you to a dermatologist to confirm the condition and help with treatment. To confirm the diagnosis, your dermatologist may need to take a sample of the affected skin to examine under a microscope. At the same time, your primary care doctor may want to order blood tests or other diagnostic tests to rule out conditions that can lead to seborrheic dermatitis.

Treatment

Many cases of seborrheic dermatitis resolve on their own over time. Cases that are the result of an underlying condition usually resolve once the condition is treated. For cases of unknown origin that do not resolve over time, symptoms can be managed with medicated face washes and shampoos that contain corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

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