La Seborrheic Dermatitis is a very common disease of the skin, characterized by the appearance of slightly scaly eczema on seborrheic skin areas such as face, anterior chest, center back and folds such as the armpits. It is a recurrent disease, which presents itself with periods of exacerbation and stable periods.

    Request medical consultation

    Fill out this form and we will contact you to advise you

    This type of dermatitis occur typically in two stages of life: The first stage is during the first year of life and the second stage in adults in their 30’s or 40’s. It is considered a frequent process, placing it around the 3-5% of the general European population. Visits from patients with this type of dermatitis is common and is sometimes difficult to differentiate it from a psoriasis.

    Why is it produced?

    To date it is not clear why it occurs. It is believed to be influenced by many factors including increased sebum. The disease is often seen in patients who have a very oily skin. There are certain neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s, where patients tend to have very oily skin; therefore seborrheic dermatitis is more common with these patients. It is also believed that it influences the presence of a fungus called Malassezia, which would explain why patients with seborrheic dermatitis respond to antifungal treatment. Other important factors are environmental and emotional. Often there is an outbreak in times of anxiety and stress, it is also common to improve during summer and get worse in autumn and winter.


    In adults a discrete scaly, oily looking eczema will appear on seborrheic areas of the body such as the midface region: forehead, brow area and eyebrows, eyelids, nasal folds, chin and behind the ears. Also in the trunk part of the body lesions are distributed on seborrheic areas such as the presternal region and on the interscapular area of the back. It typically worsens with stress and during winter. It gets better during summer. Often the scalp will produce yellowish scales that are oily to the touch, and can cover a large area of the scalp that many times produces itchiness.

    In childhood lesions can occur a few weeks after birth and almost always within the first 6 months of life. When it appears on the scalp it is so-called “cradle cap”. In addition it can also affect the diaper area, neck, armpits and inner thighs. The lesions are red plaques that are especially scaly on the scalp and are oily to the touch. Sometimes these lesions may cause mild to moderate itching. We can also find an infection on these lesions such as on the diaper area where a fungus called Candida develops.

    Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

    In adults, when there are periods of outbreak, it is necessary to use creams that contain corticosteroids for a few days to reduce inflammation combined with an anti fungal treatment to act against the malassezia fungus, associated with seborrheic dermatitis. During stable periods the application of topical calcineurin inhibitors may be prescribed, which have a similar effect to steroids and are very useful. When the scalp is affected by becoming scaly the application of lotions and creams with keratolytic is recommended on a daily basis to reduce flaking along with steroid lotions or shampoos for a period of 1- 2 weeks. We are able to custom make a formula depending on our patients needs.

    In childhood during acute periods, light creams and antifungal steroids are used for 4-5 days. It is recommended they use an antifungal shampoo once or twice a week. For the remaining days, mild soap must be used. When scalp becomes very scaly, washing with oils, Vaseline (petroleum jelly), or salicylic acid is recommended. Once again, we are able to custom make a formula for our patient’s specific needs.

    Doctor Pablo Umbert