What Does Seborrheic Dermatitis Look Like?
Warning Graphic Content
Dehydrated skin is more prone to seborrhea flare-ups. Drink plenty of fluids, whether in the form of water or natural fruit and vegetable juices.
Use Gentle Soaps
Most commercially marketed soaps today are too harsh for the skin. Use glycerin-based or natural organic soaps with herbs.
Avoid stressful situations in your personal life and in the workplace. Keep your inner balance strong by practicing yoga or meditation.
Maintain a Balanced Diet
Choose nutritious foods and take vitamins, especially vitamin B or particularly biotin.
Be Conscious About High Environmental Changes
Extreme heat or cold can worsen seborrhea symptoms. Whether it is air conditioning in summer or heating in winter, the environment affects the condition of your skin and can worsen your symptoms.
What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?
A medical condition that is considered to be a chronic form of eczema, seborrheic dermatitis tends to appear on the body where there are a lot of oil-producing, or sebaceous, glands. A few of those places on the body would include the scalp, nose, and the upper back region. It is still unknown as to the exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis, even though it is said that genes and hormones do play some role with it. Some of the microorganisms that are known to thrive on the skin are also said to be naturally contributing to the development of seborrheic dermatitis. People of any age are able to get seborrheic dermatitis, which also includes infants (in their case, it is known as “cradle cap”). A few of the triggers for seborrheic dermatitis would include factors such as stress, changes in weather (at times cold, and certain times it is hot), changes in hormones, use of harsh soaps, chemicals, detergents, and solvents, and, lastly, due to certain medical illnesses. In general, seborrheic dermatitis is a more common occurrence in males than the female population. Patients who suffer from certain diseases that affect the immune system, which can include autoimmune disease such as HIV/AIDS, as well as those that affect the nervous system, such as the Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s, are also known to be at an increased risk of getting the seborrheic dermatitis condition. Note that seborrheic dermatitis is not a contagious medical condition; it does not spread from one person to another through any kind of contact.
What Does It Look Like?
Seborrheic dermatitis is known to commonly appear on the scalp, wherein the symptoms can range from dry flakes or dandruff to yellow, greasy-looking scales with reddened skin. Patients are also said to develop seborrheic dermatitis on other oily regions of the body, which may include the upper chest region, back, and face. Some of the common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Redness on the affected region
- The skin becomes greasy as well as swollen
- Formation of white or yellowish crusty flakes
- The skin tends to feel itchy or develops a burning sensation
Cradle cap and dandruff are known to be a common occurrence with seborrheic dermatitis. Infants who are three months or younger often tend to get cradle cap, which is nothing but a crusty brownish or yellow-colored scaling on their scalp. Most of the time, it goes away before the baby turns one year old, but there are cases where it can come back again when the child reaches puberty. In the case of adults, seborrheic dermatitis is known to occur on the face, mostly around the regions of the nose, behind the ears, and on the eyelids. This dermatitis can show up just about anywhere on the body, such as on the buttocks, below the breast area, the middle region of the chest, in the groin, around the navel, and in the skin folds situated under the arms and on the legs. In certain cases, it has been seen that, for small babies, seborrheic dermatitis can at times be mistaken for diaper rash. In the case of seborrheic dermatitis, the skin turns red and becomes quite itchy, along with developing a burning sensation. The scales, which tend to flake off, would be white or, at times, yellow in color, and they would look oily or moist. Since there is a possibility that seborrheic dermatitis can also be mistaken for another type of skin condition, it is important to visit the doctor for a correct diagnosis and then take the correct route of treatment. A dermatologist would ask questions regarding the patient’s medical history, about their overall health, and any kind of prior skin ailments. They would also carry out a physical examination. If the doctor suspects it to be another medical condition, then, to verify this suspicion, the doctor would need to carry out certain other tests.
Use of certain medicated shampoos, lotions, and creams are the main treatment when it comes to seborrheic dermatitis. The doctor would most likely recommend the individual to try out certain home remedies, which can include the use of over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, before they think of considering any kind of prescription remedies. If the home remedies do not prove to be of any help, it is best to talk with the doctor about trying out any of the following treatments:
- Using creams, ointments, and shampoos that are known to help in controlling inflammation. Prescription-strength hydrocortisone, fluocinolone (Capex, Synalar), clobetasol (Clobex, Cormax), and desonide (Desowen, Desonate), which are basically corticosteroids, can also be applied to the scalp or any of the other affected region. They are known to be very effective and pretty easy to use, but they should be used sparingly. If they are used for a longer period of time, such as for many weeks or months without taking a break, this can lead to certain side effects, which may include thinning of the skin, or the skin may start to show streaks or lines. You can also try creams or lotions that contain calcineurin inhibitors, tacrolimus (Protopic), as well as pimecrolimus (Elidel). These are said to be effective and also have fewer side effects than the earlier-mentioned corticosteroids. But they are not often the first choice for treatment by doctors, and the reason is because the Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has certain concerns about them having a possible link with cancer. In addition, tacrolimus and pimecrolimus tend to be costlier than mild forms of corticosteroid medications.
- Use of certain antifungal gels, creams or shampoos, which can also be alternated with another medicine. Based on the affected region as well as the severity of the symptoms, the doctor may also prescribe a product with just two percent ketoconazole (Nizoral) or one percent ciclopirox. In certain cases, the doctor can also prescribe both products to be used alternately.
- Use of antifungal medication, which can be taken as a pill. If the individual’s condition does not show any signs of improvement with other treatments, then the doctor can also recommend an antifungal medication in the form of a pill. These are normally not the first choice for treatment due to the possible side effects and drug interactions.
Below are certain over-the-counter treatments as well as self-care tips which can help the individual control their seborrheic dermatitis:
- Slowly soften and remove the scales from the hair. You can also apply mineral oil or olive oil to the scalp. Leave it there for an hour or more and then comb or brush your hair. Once done, you can then wash it off.
- Be sure to wash or clean the skin regularly. For this, rinse the soap completely off the body and scalp. Avoid the use of harsh soaps and, instead, try out a moisturizer.
- Make use of medicated cream. First, try a mild corticosteroid cream on the affected regions, but be sure to keep it away from the eyes. If this does not work, then go in for the antifungal cream called ketoconazole.