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Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common, chronic or relapsing inflammatory skin disease that mainly affects the scalp, but can also appear in skin folds and on oily areas of the skin such as the eyebrows, nose, upper lip, chest, and behind the ears. In infants, the condition is called “Cradle cap” and is a harmless, temporary condition that is not contagious.

Dandruff is a non-inflamed form of seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff presents as bran-like scaly patches within hair-bearing areas of the scalp.


Areas affected by Seborrheic Dermatitis may appear red with scaly white or yellow patches. Affected areas may also be sore and itchy. It may cause hair loss and bleeding if the condition is severe.

Infantile seborrheic dermatitis (also known as "cradle cap") affects babies under the age of 3 months, and usually resolves by 6-12 months of age.

Adult seborrheic dermatitis tends to begin in late adolescence. It is more common in males than females.


In normal conditions, oil glands produce sebum as required to lubricate skin. However when sebum is secreted in larger quantities and occurs with yeast called Malessizia, you may develop seborrheic dermatitis. Some factors may increase your risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis and they include:

  • Extreme weather changes
  • Stress
  • Use of cosmetics containing alcohol
  • Oily skin
  • Dandruff
  • Poor skin hygiene
  • Existing disease conditions – Obesity, Parkinson’s disease, and stroke
  • Infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may worsen the condition

Seborrheic dermatitis is diagnosed by its clinical appearance and behavior. It’s a treatable skin condition and is not a communicable disease.


Scalp treatment

  • Medicated shampoos containing ketoconazole, ciclopirox, selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, coal tar, and salicylic acid, used twice weekly for at least a month and if necessary, indefinitely.
  • Steroid scalp applications reduce itching, and should be applied daily for a few days every so often.
  • Tar cream can be applied to scaling areas and removed several hours later by shampooing.

Face, ears, chest & back

  • Cleanse the affected skin thoroughly once or twice each day using a non-soap cleanser.
  • Apply ketoconazole or ciclopirox cream once daily for 2 to 4 weeks, repeated as necessary.
  • Hydrocortisone cream can also be used, applied up to twice daily for 1 or 2 weeks. Occasionally a more potent topical steroid may be prescribed.
  • Topical calcineurin inhibitors such as pimecrolimus cream or tacrolimus ointment may be used instead of topical steroids.

Consult your doctor to know more on seborrheic dermatitis and other treatment options available.

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Sheth Dermatology& Mohs Surgery Center

9131 West 151st Street
Orland Park, IL 60462

Office Hours

  • Monday 10AM – 7PM
  • Tuesday 10AM – 4PM
  • Wednesday 8AM – 5PM
  • Thursday 8AM – 4PM
  • Friday 9AM – 1PM
  • Saturday Closed
  • Sunday Closed

(708) 323 DERM (3376)

(708) 390-0842

Sheth Dermatology& MedSpa

124 Ogden Avenue
Downers Grove, IL, 60515

Office Hours

  • Monday Closed
  • Tuesday 9AM – 5PM
  • Wednesday 9AM – 5PM
  • Thursday 9AM – 5PM
  • Friday 9AM – 3PM
  • Saturday 9AM - 3PM
  • Sunday Closed

(630) 521-DERM (3376)

(630) 981-2098