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    You are inEczema, Seborrhoeic
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    About Seborrhoeic Dermatitis

    Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a common, harmless, scaling rash affecting the face, scalp and other areas.

    Dandruff (also called pityriasis capitis) is seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp. Seborrhoeic dermatitis may also occur on the eyebrows, eye lid edges, ears, the skin near the nose and skin-folds of the armpits and groin. Sometimes seborrhoeic dermatitis produces round, scaling patches on the middle of the chest or on the back.
    Seborrhoeic dermatitis is believed to be related to a proliferation of a normal skin inhabitant, a yeast called Pityrosporum ovale (also known as Malassezia). Patients with seborrhoeic dermatitis appear to have a reduced resistance to the yeast. It is not contagious or related to diet, but it may be aggravated by illness, psychological stress, fatigue, change of season and reduced general health. Those with neurological disorders including Parkinson's disease and stroke are particularly prone to it.

    Seborrhoeic dermatitis may appear at any age after puberty. It fluctuates in severity and may persist for years. It may predispose to psoriasis.

    It is uncertain whether infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis is the same condition. This arises in newborn babies up to the age of six months. It usually presents as cradle cap, but infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis may also affect skin creases such as armpits and groin (when it presents as a type of napkin dermatitis). Non-itchy salmon pink flaky patches may appear on the face, trunk and limbs in severe cases. Severe seborrhoeic dermatitis in infants that are unwell with diarrhoea and failure to thrive may be Leiner's syndrome.


      Image description:
    Seborrhoeic dermatitis


      Image description:
    Seborrhoeic dermatitis
      Image description:
    Seborrhoeic dermatitis


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    What to avoid

    Reduce contact with irritants

    • Keep cool: have tepid baths, wear loose cotton clothing, and keep bedding to a minimum
    • Avoid direct skin contact with rough fibres, particularly wool
    • Avoid dusty conditions
    • Use gloves when handling chemicals, solvents and detergents
    • Choose cosmetics carefully; make-ups, perfumes and creams can all irritate
    • Bathe without soap: use water alone or add a soap-free cleanser. Make sure that none of the products used contain SLS.

    Reduce exposure to allergens

    Allergic reactions can occur to materials touched, inhaled or ingested. Responsible compounds (detected by prick tests) include house dust mite, moulds, grass pollens and animal danders, such as cats and horses. The home, especially the bedroom, should be kept as free of dust as possible. It is controversial whether it's better not to have any pets or whether regular exposure to them reduces the reactions.

    Most individuals will not helped by special diets (eg. dairy-free etc.). It is particularly important that growing children have a broad range of nutritional foods. But, if a particular substance consistently aggravates the skin problem, it is reasonable to avoid it for a while. Professional advice can be obtained from a registered dietician. Children are seldom allergic to dairy products and eggs although occasionally they may aggravate their eczema or result in hives, vomiting, diarrhoea, nasal stuffiness or wheezing. Others have flare-ups with wheat, nuts, food additives or other items. Fortunately, most affected children grow out of their food intolerance.

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    Risk Indicator

    Seborrhoeic dermatitis is not normally a dangerous condition. It can however vary in severity from one individual to another, in certain instances, requiring hospitalisation. Always consult your Doctor if you are in doubt as to symptoms or severity.

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    Seborrhoeic dermatitis in adults may be very persistent. However, it can generally be kept under control with regular use of antifungal agents and intermittent applications of topical steroids.

    Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis usually clears up completely before the baby is six months old and rarely persists after one year. If treatment is required, mild emollients, hydrocortisone cream and / or topical ketoconazole are useful.

    Treatment of seborrhoeic dermatitis depends on which part of the body is involved. It is likely to need repeating from time to time.


    • Medicated shampoos containing ketoconazole, selenium disulphide, zinc pyrithione, coal tar, and salicylic acid, used twice weekly for at least a month.
    • Steroid scalp applications reduce symptoms, and should be applied daily for a few days every so often.
    • Tar creams can be applied to scaling areas and removed several hours later by shampooing.

    Face, ears, chest & back

    • Cleanse the affected skin thoroughly once or twice each day.
    • Ketoconazole or ciclopirox cream once daily for 2 to 4 weeks, repeated as necessary.
    • Hydrocortisone cream can also be used, applied up to twice daily for 1 or 2 weeks.
    • Severe cases may receive a course of ultraviolet radiation.


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