What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

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  • Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin disease that is characterized by the appearance of redness, dandruff and scaly patches on a person’s skin
  • Seborrheic dermatitis typically affects the scalp, although symptoms can also appear in other oily areas of the body, such as the upper chest, back and face

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin disease that is characterized by the appearance of redness, dandruff and scaly patches on a person’s skin. This condition is also called seborrheic eczema since it’s one of the many types of eczema,1 seborrheic psoriasis or crib or cradle cap (when it affects an infant).2 It is not contagious and is not an indicator of poor personal hygiene.3

Seborrheic dermatitis typically affects the scalp, although symptoms can also appear in other oily areas of the body, such as the upper chest, back and face. Unfortunately, seborrheic dermatitis is a long-term condition that may require ongoing treatment.4

Seborrheic Dermatitis Often Appears in People of These Age Groups

Seborrheic dermatitis can affect people of all ages,5 particularly adults aged 30 to 60 years old. However, even young children and newborns may experience this condition.6

Seborrheic dermatitis in infants is called infantile seborrheic dermatitis, or crib/cradle cap.7,8 This condition is characterized by the formation of scaly and greasy patches on the baby’s scalp. Some babies may also develop red and scaly patches all over their body, particularly in their diaper area, where it may be mistaken as diaper rash.9

These patches are relatively harmless, though, but will eventually become thick and crusty. Within a few months, the condition can go away on its own, with the rashes permanently disappearing between 6 months up to a year of age, no matter where the condition initially manifests.

Key Differences Between Seborrheic Dermatitis and Psoriasis

Seborrheic dermatitis may be confused with another skin disease called psoriasis, which also affects a person’s scalp and causes the appearance of red patches on the skin, flakes that can attach to the hair shaft and increased itchiness. It’s important to learn about the differences between these two diseases so you’ll know how to alleviate these when the time comes:10,11

Seborrheic DermatitisPsoriasis

Appears yellow and greasy

Symptoms appear on the scalp, face, upper chest and back

Common indicators include crusty white flakes, greasy yellow scales, red and swollen skin, itchy skin and a burning sensation

Symptoms can be trigged by a variety of external factors like weather changes, hormonal changes, illnesses or items like soaps, detergents and other chemicals

Has a powdery appearance with a silver sheen

Symptoms appear on the scalp, elbows or knees

Characterized by the presence of raised and scaly patches on the skin, dry and cracked skin that may bleed, swollen and stiff joints and thickened, pitted or ridged nails12

Symptoms are influenced by genes and the immune system

MORE ABOUT SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS

Seborrheic Dermatitis: Introduction

What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic Dermatitis Symptoms

Seborrheic Dermatitis Causes

Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment

Seborrheic Dermatitis Prevention

Seborrheic Dermatitis Diet

Seborrheic Dermatitis FAQ


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Seborrheic Dermatitis Symptoms

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References

  • 1 Jaliman, “Types of Eczema,” WebMD, p.3, February 3, 2017
  • 2 Kelbach and O’Connell, “Seborrheic Eczema and Crib Cap,” Healthline, January 28, 2016
  • 3, 4 Mayo Clinic Staff, “Seborrheic Dermatitis Definition,” Mayo Clinic, May 30, 2014
  • 5 Cole and Shiel, “Seborrheic Dermatitis,” MedicineNet, March 18, 2016
  • 6 Ratini, “What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?” WebMD, March 21, 2016
  • 7, 9 “Seborrheic Dermatitis,” American Academy of Dermatology
  • 8 “Cradle Cap (Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis),” KidsHealth
  • 10 Railton and Sullivan, “Psoriasis vs. Seborrheic Dermatitis: How to tell the difference,” Medical News Today, April 12, 2017
  • 11 Pietrangelo and Kim, “Psoriasis vs. Seborrheic Dermatitis: What You Should Know,” Healthline, January 21, 2016
  • 12 Mayo Clinic Staff, “Psoriasis Symptoms,” Mayo Clinic, June 17, 2015