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What is Seborrheic Dermatitis (Dandruff)?

Scalp with dandruff, Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a very common skin disease in children and adults. It causes red, white-yellow crusted scales. While most people associate seborrheic dermatitis with dandruff and only occurring on the scalp, it can appear on other parts of the body.

 

Seborrheic Dermatitis in Infants

On infants, seborrheic dermatitis often occurs on the scalp causing thick, white scaling patches referred to as Cradle Cap. It can also manifest on the body or in the diaper area. Usually, this infantile form is gone by 6-12 months. 

 

Seborrheic Dermatitis in Adults

Typical areas in adults are eyebrows, around the nose, scalp, ears, and chest. Occasionally the skin may itch. Adults may go through flares throughout their lives with common triggers such as temperature changes or stress exacerbating symptoms. Some conditions are commonly seen with seborrheic dermatitis, such as rosacea, psoriasis, or acne. 

Seborrheic dermatitis is thought to be caused by yeast that grows on all of our skin, your genetic background, stress, or overall health. Some medications and medical conditions cause an increased probability of developing the condition. It is not from lack of hygiene, your diet, or an allergy. 

 

Treating Seborrheic Dermatitis

Treatment is topical. For babies, washing with mild baby shampoo and using a very soft baby brush, you may brush off some of the thicker scales. If prescribed a medication, you would then apply a thin layer of Vaseline or Aquaphor. 

For treating seborrheic dermatitis in adults, we recommend using Head and Shoulders shampoo to the affected area daily, yes, even if that is your face. Head and Shoulders® will kill the yeast living on the skin and causing redness and scaling. It needs to be left in place for 3-5 minutes before washing off. 

Another option is the use of Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Leave on Spray. Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Leave on Spray is challenging to find in the Charlotte, NC area; we recommend it be purchased online. It is applied topically and not rinsed off. After it dries, you may follow with your other daily products. Unless you were otherwise advised, we do not recommend using any topical steroids as this can cause a rebound effect. 

Once the dermatitis is under control, you may taper your use of the Head and Shoulders for managing, understanding that this is most likely a long-term issue you will have to control 

Author
Charlene, RN Dilworth Dermatology and Laser Charlene Rhem, RN Charlene is a Registered Nurse with over 20 years of dermatology experience with an emphasis in laser technology in dermatology.

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