What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?
This is a skin ailment that can affect the face, chest, back and other areas of the body with sebaceous glands. It primarily agitates the scalp encouraging scaly, scratchy, reddish skin, possibly with persistent dandruff.
Generally, seborrheic dermatitis may not affect the general health and well being. Nevertheless, it can be unpleasant, lead to distress, embarrassment and awkwardness, whenever, it occurs in noticeable areas of the body.
It is not contagious neither is it an indication of unhealthy personal hygiene. However, it can recur again. If the symptoms and flare-ups become recognizable, it can be manageable by using a combination of self-care steps and over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications.
Seborrheic Dermatitis – American English
Seborrhoeic Dermatitis – British English
Seborrheic – Rash in areas of the Sebaceous Gland
Dermatitis – Inflammation of the Skin
This skin disorder like a rash is made up of red areas covered with greasy-looking white or yellowish scales.
Most commonly found in areas as follows
It often affects the inner parts of the eyebrows, the creases beside the nose and adjacent parts of the cheeks. The eyelids can also develop redness, inflammation and sensitivity; an ocular condition know as Blepharitis.
Inflammation may occur inside the ear canals, behind the ears and/or in the cup of the ear. The skin may typically ooze and crust in any of the theses places, in addition the ears can swell up. Irritation and inflammation in the ear canal can result in blockage.
The Inflammation of the ear canal and the outer ear is known as Otitis Externa.
It can range from mild flaky scalp of dandruff to an inflamed red, scaly weeping rash. Cradle cap is the yellow, greasy scaly patches found on the scalps of newborns and infants.
Chest and Back
It can appear as well-defined, round reddish patches that could be scaly .
It generally has an effect on the moisty areas of the body e.g. the armpits, breasts, groin or in folds on the skin on/around the abdominal area.
Available treatments may not necessarily cure the condition but rather suppress it. This is because it often comes back after such treatment has stopped. Therefore, continuous treatment may be necessary.
Scalp psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp share similar treatment options like anti fungal solutions, topical corticosteroid and medicated shampoo.
The choice of treatment would depend on the part of the skin with the rash:
Medicated shampoo, for flaky scalp, that contain agents like Selenium Sulphide, Zinc Pyrithione or Ketoconazole can be applied on a regular basis. It can be applied for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing.
For thick and dense scales that may cover the scalp warm olive oil can be applied to gently remove the scales.
The occasional and sparing use of a scalp application that contains strong steroid can help minimise the irritation, inflammation and redness. On the other hand, a salicylic acid-based cream or ointment may be applied and rubbed onto the affected area at night and washed off in the morning.
The milder steroid ointments and creams with or without the anti fungal component are generally powerful and effective. A shower or wash of the body with anti fungal soap or gel that contains ketoconazole can also be helpful. The soap or gel maybe applied for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing. For affected ear canals medicated ear drops can be used.
If the rash is stubbornly prevalent, widespread and uncontrollable or resistant to over-the-counter treatment a medical practitioner may recommend a brief course of oral anti-yeast treatment.
These two conditions of the scalp can be difficult to differentiate, because both are common conditions that affect the scalp. In addition, both share similar signs and symptoms such as red, itchy, scaly skin.
Generally, the scales of psoriasis can be thicker and drier than the scales of seborrheic dermatitis. Furthermore, psoriasis can affect numerous areas of the body.
For people with scalp psoriasis, mild psoriasis may appear on the elbows, feet, hands or knees and they may observe subtle nail changes, particularly pitting.
Where the skin condition is characterized by the overlapping of either conditions it is known as Sebopsoriasis or Seborrhiasis.
Scalp psoriasis is often persistent and more difficult to treat than of the scalp.
For uncontrollable flare-ups and conditions of scalp psoriasis, a dermatologist or medical doctor may recommend oral medication like cyclosporine or methotrexate (Trexall), alternatively combine medicated ointments and cream with stronger medication.