Casey Gallagher, MD, is board-certified in dermatology and works as a practicing dermatologist and clinical professor.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that causes red patches with overlying yellowish, greasy-appearing scales to form on oily areas of the skin like the scalp, face, upper chest, and back.
The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known, but it is thought to involve an autoimmune response to a fungus or other microorganisms that normally live on the skin. The condition is not contagious.
Seborrheic dermatitis is often a chronic, relapsing condition that requires long-term treatment with antifungal shampoo or, if on areas other than the scalp, with topical steroids or antifungal creams.
A number of factors are thought to cause seborrheic dermatitis. These include an autoimmune response to a fungus or other microorganisms that normally lives on the skin and genetics. Those with HIV are also prone to developing the condition.
Treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include antifungal shampoos, topical antifungal ointments, steroid ointments, and tailored skin-cleansing regimens. Certain lifestyle measures may also be helpful, including staying well-hydrated and avoiding skin products that contain alcohol.
No, seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious. The condition, characterized by itchy, flaky patches on the skin and scalp, is thought to be caused by a variety of factors, but it is not transmissible.
Seborrheic dermatitis is not a fungus in itself, but a reaction to malassezia, a fungus, or yeast. Malassezia normally lives on the skin, and those with seborrheic dermatitis are thought to have an abnormal inflammatory response to it, causing symptoms.
A type of topical medication used to treat fungal infections. Prescription shampoos containing antifungals are used for seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. When the condition affects the skin, a topical antifungal ointment is used.
A mild form of seborrheic dermatitis. Dandruff affects only the scalp, resulting in dry flakes that can be itchy. Over-the-counter and prescription shampoos (and topical creams in some cases) are used to treat dandruff.
A fungal organism, or yeast, that normally lives on the skin. It is thought that those with seborrheic dermatitis mount an abnormal inflammatory response to malassezia. Most likely, there are other factors that play into seborrheic dermatitis as well.
A diagnostic test in which a small area of skin is removed and examined under a microscope.
Seborrheic dermatitis: Overview. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care [Updated 2020 Jun 18].
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