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Seborrheic Dermatitis: What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment


Seborrheic Dermatitis: What is it, Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Seborrheic dermatitis; It is a skin disease that causes flaking and dandruff on the scalp, face, chest and body folds. The disease can occur in adults as well as in babies. In some patients, it may improve without needing treatment. However, symptoms related to the disease can be severe and negatively affect the patient’s daily life. In such cases, treatment is needed.

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin disease that primarily affects the scalp. This disease causes skin redness, flaking and dandruff. Apart from the scalp, it can also be seen in areas where the sebaceous (oil) glands are most active, such as the eyebrows, edges of the nose, between the chest, middle of the back, ears and body folds. It causes the problem known as host disease to occur on the scalp of babies. This disease, also known as seborrheic eczema, can heal on its own without the need for treatment. In some people, repeated treatments may be required to improve the symptoms caused by the disease. Regularly washing the affected areas with appropriate shampoos helps relieve the symptoms.

What are the Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis symptoms may vary from person to person. The most common symptoms:

  • Dandruff on the scalp, eyebrows or beard
  • Yellowish whitish crusting on the scalp, face, armpits, chest, under the breasts
  • skin redness
  • Itching

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These symptoms seen in patients are; It tends to be exacerbated in situations such as stress, seasonal change, cold and dry weather.

Seborrheic dermatitis can lead to the development of a condition characterized by yellow-brown crusting on the scalp, called host, especially in babies under three years of age. Most babies recover from host problems by the age of one. However, in some babies, this problem may continue until adolescence.

The symptoms of the disease may not cause a serious problem for many patients. However, if the symptoms cause difficulty in the patient’s daily life or if the patient is disturbed by dandruff in his hair or lesions on his skin, he should definitely consult a dermatologist. Again, if an infection occurs on the skin, it is necessary to go to a doctor. If the patient’s home remedies are not sufficient to relieve skin problems, it would be beneficial to consult a specialist.

What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?

The conditions that cause seborrheic dermatitis have not yet been fully elucidated. However, there are some situations that experts think may be effective in the development of the disease. The first of these occurs when the fungus called Malassezia Furfur affects the parts of the skin responsible for oil production. Normally, the Malassezia furfur fungus is also found on normal, healthy skin. However, in people whose skin is prone to oily skin or whose immune system is weakened, this fungus can spread and cause skin problems.

Other conditions that are thought to play a role in the development of seborrheic dermatitis are impaired immune response (immunosuppression), Parkinson’s disease, facial paralysis, and nutritional changes (zinc deficiency, niacin and pyridoxine deficiency).

There are various factors that increase a person’s risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis. These risk factors are:

  • AIDS, some types of cancer and use of immunosuppressant drugs that cause weakening of the immune system
  • After severe medical conditions such as heart attack or stroke
  • Psychiatric and neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and depression
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Seborrheic dermatitis is especially common in infants and adults between the ages of 20 and 50. This disease is more common in men than in women. The risk of seborrheic dermatitis is also increased in people with oily skin type.

How to Diagnose Seborrheic Dermatitis?

The diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis is made through a skin examination performed by the doctor. Since seborrheic dermatitis can be confused with other skin diseases, in rare cases, a skin biopsy may be required for diagnosis. Skin problems that are frequently confused with seborrheic dermatitis:

  • Psoriasis: Psoriasis also causes redness and flaking on the skin. Its difference from seborrheic dermatitis is that there is more flaking and the lesions are silver-grey-white in color and thicker.
  • Atopic Dermatitis: It causes itching and redness behind the knees, in front of the elbows and on the folds of the neck. In most patients, eczema has a recurring feature.
  • Tinea Versicolor: In this disease, skin rashes are usually located on the back and chest. These rashes are not red and itchy as in seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Rosacea: This disease usually causes redness and a pimple-like rash on the face. Additionally, flaking is less in this disease. However, rosacea may be associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment

Medicinal shampoos, creams and lotions are mainly used in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. Various applications that the patient can perform at home can also alleviate the symptoms of the disease.

Drugs used in seborrheic treatment:

  • Shampoos, creams and ointments that reduce inflammation: Various corticosteroid-containing products can be applied to the scalp. These products are very easy to use. However, care should be taken to use the minimum dose required. Continuous long-term use of these products; It may cause side effects such as skin thinning and permanent redness. Creams containing tacrolimus and pimecrolimus, which belong to the calcineurin inhibitor drug group, can also be used in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. The side effects of these products are less than the side effects of products containing corticosteroids. Effects such as burning, redness and sensitivity are at a tolerable level.
  • Creams and shampoos containing antifungal: Depending on the severity of the patient’s symptoms, the doctor may prescribe antifungal creams and shampoos called ketoconazole.
  • Pills containing antifungals: If the patient’s symptoms do not improve with other treatments, oral antifungal medications can be used in the treatment under the control of your dermatologist.

Seborrheic dermatitis can be treated with simple home remedies and lifestyle changes. With these applications, symptoms arising from the disease can be improved. In order for home methods to be successful, the patient must know his skin type and the severity of his disease. Applications made in the light of this information will be more effective.

Patients can use anti-dandruff shampoos to prevent dandruff formation on the scalp. The use of shampoos containing zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, tar, and salicylic acid may provide benefits against dandruff. The patient can choose the most suitable product for himself by trying these products in order. Using the appropriate product 3-4 times a week is usually sufficient.

Other applications that may be useful in seborrheic treatment:

  • Applying mineral oil or olive oil to the scalp and waiting for a few hours, then washing the hair will soften the skin. Then, by gently combing the hair, dandruff and flaking on the scalp are eliminated.
  • Regular washing of the face and scalp with a mild soap can be effective against seborrheic dermatitis. To prevent the skin from drying out, the skin should be moisturized with suitable moisturizers after washing.
  • Creams containing low doses of corticosteroids can be applied to skin lesions. If these creams are not effective, various mixtures can be preferred.
  • The use of hair styling creams, hair sprays and gels should be stopped until the seborrheic dermatitis treatment is completed.
  • People who have complaints about the eyebrows, nose edges, and beard and moustache areas should cleanse their faces of oil with appropriate cleansers and then use appropriate moisturizers. Creams containing short-term low-dose corticosteroids, creams containing calcine inhibitors, and washing soaps with tea tree extract are among the products that can be used for this purpose.
  • In cases where seborrheic dermatitis causes flaking in the eyelashes, the eyelashes can be washed with baby shampoo or eye shampoos containing tea tree extract. In addition to regular washing, flakes from the eyelashes can be carefully removed with cotton swabs (such as a Q-tip).
  • In babies with host problems, drug-free shampoos should be used. After softening the scalp with olive oil, the washed baby’s hair can be combed with a soft comb to remove host rashes.
  • Since spicy foods can also exacerbate seborrheic dermatitis, reducing hot, spicy foods will alleviate the flare-up of seborrheic dermatitis.

People with skin lesions resembling seborrheic dermatitis should consult a health center if they cannot get rid of this problem with home treatments. With detailed examination, the condition causing the lesion formation can be diagnosed.

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