"Doctor, what is Seborrheic dermatitis? How it is treated?" First let me answer, what is Seborrheic dermatitis? When dandruff is associated with the signs of inflammation in the form of red patches covered with greasy scales, then it is termed as seborrheic dermatitis. Unlike dandruff, which is confined to the scalp, seborrheic dermatitis can extend onto your face and chest.
What causes Seborrheic dermatitis?
Dandruff or Seborrheic dermatitis occurs because of overgrowth of fungus that normally lives on your scalp and survives on the oil secretion by your glands. This overgrowth is triggered by:
- Adolescence: Dandruff is particularly common during the phase of adolescence because it is the time when your oil-secreting glands are very active.
- Poor scalp hygiene: This occurs due to infrequent or inefficient washing of your hair, the latter occurs when you do not completely remove the oil applied on your scalp.
- Oily Hair: Oily hair has abundant food for the fungus leading to dandruff.
- Poor diet: Diet deficient in zinc, vitamin B or essential fatty acids can also cause an itchy and flaky scalp.
Stress: It is an important trigger not only for dandruff but also for an itchy scalp.
Medical disorders: Dandruff specifically Seborrheic dermatitis is common in AIDS, Parkinson’s disease or in any other chronic illness.
Are you suffering from Dandruff or Seborrheic dermatitis?
Dandruff usually occurs as flaking associated with itching confined to your scalp. The diagnosis of Seborrheic dermatitis is made when dandruff is associated with red patches covered with greasy yellow scales on the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis might involve face (especially forehead, ear, eyebrows, eyelids, side of nose) and chest.
How to treat Seborrheic dermatitis?
Mild cases of Seborrheic dermatitis can be handled at home; however, if you have redness, yellow scaling on your scalp and lesions extending on to your face and chest, you need to consult a dermatologist for prescription of:
- Anti-dandruff shampoos: OTC anti-dandruff shampoos can be tried at home; but if they are not working anymore, prescribed formulations might be needed.
- Topical steroids: Medium potency topical steroid like betamethasone can be applied in a lotion base on the scalp while low potency steroid like hydrocortisone in a cream base is used for a lesion on the skin.
- Topical anti-fungal: Ketoconazole, Ciclopirox, Miconazole, etc. can be applied topically to scalp or skin lesion to control the overgrowth of causative fungus, Malesezia.
- Topical Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid along with sulphur can be applied in gel form overnight to get rid of thick crust.
- Oral Anti-fungal: Itraconazole or terbinafine is prescribed for resistant cases.
- Oral Retinoid: Isotretinoin is prescribed in certain cases, where oil secretion is also increased leading to pimples and Seborrheic dermatitis.