Seborrheic Dermatitis (Seborrhea) Treatment

Advanced Treatment for Dandruff or Seborrhea in the San Diego Area

Dr. Melanie Palm is a nationally recognized dermatologist and expert in the treatment of cosmetic and medical skin conditions. Dr. Palm is a noted leader in her field and offers effective treatment options for skin rashes including seborrhea. Her offices are located in Solana Beach, CA just north of San Diego.

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrhea, or seborrheic dermatitis, refers to an inflammatory and benign skin condition that is due to a combination of factors. It is typically mild in nature but can be quite severe. Its appearance ranges from mild dandruff to full body redness called erythroderma. In babies and children, it is sometimes referred to as “cradle cap.” A severe form of seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp is sometimes referred to as “sebopsoriasis.”

The most common areas of seborrhea are on the face, scalp, and torso. Occasionally, scaly red patches of seborrheic dermatitis may also appear in the groin.

Seborrheic dermatitis is typically self-limited and well-controlled with topical medications. There is no cure for seborrhea but it can typically be better controlled through relatively simples measures. It is important to distinguish seborrheic dermatitis from other skin conditions including ringworm, eczema, psoriasis, and dermatitis.

What are the Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis has a characteristic pattern and appearance as it typically arises in areas of dense oil glands, or “sebaceous” areas of the skin. The presentation of seborrhea includes the following signs and symptoms:

  • Skin appearance: Red, scaly or flaky patches of skin
  • Symptoms: itchy, sensitive, or burning sensation
  • Location of seborrheic dermatitis
    • Scalp: especially sides and back of scalp
    • Face: hairline, eyebrows, sides of nose, nasolabial folds, beard area
    • Trunk: central chest, underarms
    • Groin

What Causes Seborrhea?

The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is thought to be caused by several factors. This includes the presence of a particular strain of yeast called Malassezia, which grows plentifully in areas of dense oil glands. Immune factors likely play a role in the development of seborrhea. Seborrheic dermatitis may be aggravated by changes in climate, skin trauma, or emotional stress.

Some individuals are more likely to develop seborrheic dermatitis. Patients with Parkinson’s disease and HIV may suffer from significant seborrheic dermatitis.

What are the Treatment Options for Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Topical therapy is usually sufficient to control seborrhea. Antidandruff shampoos, topical prescription creams, and proper skin moisturizers all improve seborrheic dermatitis. Sulfur and zinc-based soaps and washes can greatly improve the rash.   Prescription topical creams used to treat seborrheic dermatitis include antifungal creams (creams that end in the word –azole) and topical calcineurin inhibitors such as pimecrolimus (Elidel) cream and tacrolimus (Protopic) ointment. Rarely, topical steroids are used but should be avoided as long-term topical therapy, especially on the face.

If you suspect you have a rash that resembles seborrheic dermatitis, it is important to have a board-certified dermatologist evaluate the skin for proper diagnosis and treatment.

If you are looking for a dermatologist to treat seborrheic dermatitis in the San Diego area, call Dr. Melanie Palm at 858.792.SKIN (7546) to schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options.