Understanding Seborrheic Dermatitis

Published on May 19, 2017

Seborrheic dermatitis in its most common form appears on the scalp as dandruff, but this condition can appear in other areas of the body as well. The most widely recognized feature of this condition is that it occurs on areas of the skin where oil glands are located.

Usually, seborrheic dermatitis occurs as a result of fungal infection. It can also be caused by toxins and other external factors or as a result of body’s own functions. For some, it may be a chronic condition.

Hormonal Factors

Some doctors link the occurrence of seborrheic dermatitis to hormonal changes in the body. It is not unusual for newborn children to experience this type of skin disorder. However, it tends to be eliminated by the time the child is a few months old. Many doctors believe this type of skin condition develops as a result of exposure to the mother’s hormones.

Usually, seborrheic dermatitis is found in people who have reached puberty. This suggests that the condition develops as result of hormonal factors. Men seem to be more affected than women, and this also suggests that hormonal factors may be the cause.

Fungal Infection

There is also some indication that the skin condition is a result of fungal infection. In particular, yeast infections cause this type of skin disorder. One of the strongest pieces of evidence for this is the effectiveness of anti-yeast medications in treating the condition. Also, some people are more prone to this type of yeast infection and therefore tend to develop seborrheic dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis may be caused due to underlying physical disorders and medical conditions. It may develop as a result of a weak immune system or diseases affecting the nervous system. The link between the diseases and seborrheic dermatitis has not been clearly established.


Usually, people experience seborrheic dermatitis in the form of dandruff. Dandruff can range from dry and mild to greasy and itchy. It is important to keep the body clean in order to avoid accumulation of sebum. Accumulation of sebum causes the growth of fungal infections, and this leads to seborrheic dermatitis. As such, reducing sebum on the skin through regular baths and shampooing can help in the management of the problem.


While an increase in general cleanliness can reduce the problem, some patients may require other treatment options. It is important to follow the doctor’s instructions to ensure that treatment is effective. In offering treatment, the doctor will consider the degree of severity of infection and the area of the body infected. For sensitive areas such as the face, diluted treatment may be recommended.

Anti-fungal medications containing zinc and sulfides have been shown to be effective. They help reduce fungal infection.

Topical steroids help reduce inflammation. This can aid in the management of redness, itching, and discomfort that patients experience.

For removing thick layers of fungal scale, the doctor may recommend special shampoos. These shampoos are used in combination with other chemicals to remove the scale from the scalp and other areas. Daily baths and regular shampoo with appropriate products and soaps will also help reduce the problem.

For chronic problems that refuse to yield to any other type of treatment, use of medications to reduce activity of the sebaceous glands is recommended.

Find Out More

Speak with Dr. Anita Gill, an experienced dermatologist, to find out more about seborrheic dermatitis and other skin conditions. For a consultation, contact our office.