Seborrheic Dermatitis Basics

Featured Article, Other Skin Conditions, Skin Center
on January 26, 2012
Basics of Seborrheic Dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a relatively common skin condition that most often affects the scalp. This condition isn’t medically serious in most cases, but it may cause disruption and embarrassment in everyday life. When it occurs in the scalp, seborrheic dermatitis causes dandruff and leaves the scalp red and inflamed. Persistent itching adds to the discomfort, and secondary infections are possible as a result of the condition.

Living with seborrheic dermatitis. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Seborrheic dermatitis doesn't affect your overall health, but it can be uncomfortable and cause embarrassment when it develops on visible parts of your body.” Seborrheic dermatitis is almost always chronic, reappearing at intervals after periods of completely clear skin. No matter what you do, you may not be able to keep your skin clear at all times; however, evidence suggests that small lifestyle changes and preventative measures may reduce the appearance and size of affected areas of skin.

Common myths about seborrheic dermatitis. A common perception about seborrheic dermatitis is that it stems from improper hygiene or a lack of cleanliness. While it appears that hygiene has little or nothing to do with attacks of seborrheic dermatitis, such commonly held beliefs are the primary source for embarrassment related to the skin disorder.

What you should do if you have seborrheic dermatitis. The first step with any form of dermatitis is a long, critical look at your environment and the things with which your skin comes into contact. Harsh chemicals or cleaning agents, extremes in temperature or humidity, and other such factors may contribute to seborrheic dermatitis. Moisturizing lotions and over-the-counter topical creams or dandruff shampoos may help. It’s always a good idea to consult your doctor when the condition appears, just to make sure that it’s not a symptom of a more severe issue. Notify your doctor immediately if the area shows signs of infection — such as swelling, burning or oozing — or if the condition begins to interfere with your daily life.