Seborrhoeic dermatitis

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a common condition that causes a scaling rash which is sometimes itchy. Seborrhoeic dermatitis may appear at any age (usually after puberty), either gradually or suddenly. It may last for years but usually disappears by itself. Often it gets better or worse without any apparent reason. Dandruff is seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp. Seborrhoeic dermatitis may also occur on the eyebrows, eye lids, ears, the skin near the nose and skin-folds of the armpits and groin. Occasionally seborrhoeic dermatitis produces round, scaling patches on the middle of the chest or on the back. Seborrhoeic dermatitis is believed to be due to a proliferation of a normal skin inhabitant, a yeast called Malassezia furfur . This may be due to a reduced resistance to the yeast possibly induced by factors such as stress, or fatigue. Some people seem to be affected by change of seasons. It is not contagious or related to diet. Nervous stress and any physical illness may make seborrhoeic dermatitis worse, but they do not cause it. There is no cure for seborrhoeic dermatitis. However, it can be kept under control. The treatment depends on which part of the body is involved. Treatment will need to be repeated from time to time. If the problem is mainly affecting your scalp then shampoos containing Ketoconazole or tar based preparations should be effective and your pharmacist can advise about suitable preparations. Generally, you would need to treat the problem twice weekly for 1 month. For other areas of your body a combined antifungal and mild steroid cream is often beneficial, your pharmacist or doctor will be able to offer advice about these.

Further information

This article published on
01 August 2005

Next review date 8/1/2013


Skin, hair and bones

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Skin, hair and bones

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