Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition, and refers to a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects certain areas of the body, quite often the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis that affects the scalp is referred to as “scalp seborrhea”. This condition is mainly characterized by mild to dense dandruff, redness, itchiness, scaly patches and white or yellow crusty flakes.

In this video from Dr. Sandra Lee, she explains how to get rid of dandruff, what is it, why you get it, and how to treat it:

Although “dandruff” is the most commonly know form of Seborrheic Dermatitis, there are many other conditions that most people less know about.

Seborrheic Dermatitis in Babies and Adults

Seborrheic dermatitis can also be seen among neonates usually on their head and eyebrows. Babies can also have this skin condition in their diaper area which is easily mistaken for diaper rash. The condition gradually disappears as the infant reaches six months to one year of age.

Experts suggest that the emergence of seborrheic dermatitis among newborn babies which is commonly referred to as “cradle cap”, may be caused by maternal hormone stimulation.

If seborrheic dermatitis affects adults, the condition may last a lifetime. Changes in weather and stress are some of the factors that trigger flare-ups of this condition.

Seborrheic-Dermatitis Infographic

Seborrheic-Dermatitis Infographic

Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Increased Population of Lipophilic Yeast

Initial findings from studies suggest that a lipophilic yeast, belonging to Malassezia genus called Pityrosporum ovale (P.ovale) is the main culprit of the development of seborrheic dermatitis. The occurrence of this skin condition serves as the body’s inflammatory response to the P. ovale organism.

This organism naturally dwells in the skin’s oil and when there is an increase in the population of this lipophilic yeast, the skin also produces an excessive amount of oil. Thus, the skin becomes irritated and this will then result in greasy and red patches on the skin.

Experts are trying to determine why some people develop seborrheic dermatitis and others do not when the organism responsible exists in all humans.

Immunodeficiency Syndrome

Studies also showed that the existence of comorbid diseases predisposes certain populations to dermatitis. Statistics reveal that only 3% of the general population is affected by seborrheic dermatitis. However, the incidence rate is higher, up to 85%, among individuals who have immunodeficiency syndrome.

The exact mechanism of how the human immunodeficiency virus infection makes an individual prone to developing seborrheic dermatitis still remains to be discovered by researchers.

Central Nervous System Disorder

People who have Parkinson’s disease, major truncal paralyses, cranial nerve palsies and other illnesses associated with central nervous system disorders were also found to have a more extensive form of seborrheic dermatitis.

People who have a central nervous system disorder and have subsequently developed seborrheic dermatitis are often resistant to treatment.

The occurrence of seborrheic dermatitis among individuals with a central nervous system disorder can also be partly due to the increased pooling of sebum on certain areas of their body brought about by their immobility.
In other words, the growth of the yeast organism on their immobile parts increases their likelihood of developing seborrheic dermatitis.

Body Parts Affected by Seborrheic Dermatitis

The areas of the body where seborrheic dermatitis occurs may differ from one person to another. Some of the most commonly affected areas of the body are those where the sebaceous glands are the most active. These include:

  • Scalp, trunk and skin folds
  • Forehead and hair margins
  • Eyebrows and eyelashes
  • Beard and mustache
  • External ear canals
  • Nasolabial folds – Also known as smile lines or laughter lines

Skin Disorders eBookIf you want to learn more about why you should pay more attention to the health of your skin, you might want to download our book “Skin Disorders – Understanding Different Skin Problems”. In this downloadable ebook you can find information on some of the most common disorders that can affect our skin, their causes, symptoms, effects, and methods of prevention and treatment.

For more detailed information on the content of the book, you can click the book cover, or go here:
“Skin Disorders – Understanding Different Skin Problems”