Do you or your baby suffer from patches of red, flaking skin with white or yellow scale-like areas on the surface? This is likely to be Seborrheic dermatitis, which affects areas rich in sebaceous (oil-producing) glands on the face, scalp and chest. In infants, it is known as cradle cap. It is caused by a yeast called pityrosporum ovale, which fuels inflammation in the skin and, while harmless, can be unsightly and irritating.
What can I use on seborrheic dermatitis?
- Adopt gentle cleansers such as micellar waters.
- Use a moisturiser designed for sensitive skin.
- Ask your doctor to prescribe an anti-fungal cream.
- Try to minimise use of topical steroids.
- For seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp or cradle cap in babies, use very gentle shampoo.
1. SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS:
WHAT CAUSES SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS?
There is no single cause of seborrheic dermatitis; doctors believe the condition is caused by several factors acting in tandem. These include:
- Oily scalp or skin
- Excess yeasts that naturally occur on the skin
- Certain medical conditions or medications
- Cold, dry weather
- Genetics (it is thought to run in families)
The cause of cradle cap in babies is thought to be excess sebum production (an oily scalp) associated with the overgrowth of yeasts. This results in inflammation. Read on to find out more.
IN BABIES, SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS IS KNOWN AS CRADLE CAP
Cradle Cap is the name for seborrheic dermatitis in babies up to 3 months. The symptoms and signs are similar to adult seborrheic dermatitis but the distribution is different as it is mainly confined to the scalp. However it can also occur on the ears, eyelids, eyebrows, nose, neck, groin or armpits. The baby’s scalp develops redness, itchiness and thick yellow or brown flaking.
WHERE DOES SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS OCCUR?
Seborrheic dermatitis appears in patches of red, flaking skin on the face, around the sides of the nose and above the eyebrows. There can often be sticky flakes around the hairline too. As well as this there is sometimes a round, flaking patch in the middle of the chest. The problem patches flare up from time to time, especially during periods of tiredness and stress. The facial skin is easily irritated. The scalp itches.
2. HOW TO TAKE CARE OF SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS ON THE FACE
When you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis it is easily irritated, even by simply washing the face. Use gentle cleansers such as Micellar Water but never soap, which can increase irritation. Choose dermo-cosmetic products that are designed for tolerance and which contain active agents that work their magic on seborrheic dermatitis.
3. HOW DO I GET RID OF SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS ON MY SCALP
For seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp, an anti-fungal shampoo such as ketoconazole, used every couple of weeks, will go a long way to clearing up the problem. Then, for maintenance, use a very gentle shampoo specifically designed for sensitive scalps.
4. MEDICAL TREATMENTS FOR SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS
Avoid topical steroids where possible when treating seborrheic dermatitis. While they can be effective, they may produce small lesions resembling acne in these areas, which are rich in sebaceous glands. If used too often they can also result in rosacea. Your dermatologist can prescribe anti-fungal creams (containing ketoconazole or ciclopirox olamine) that act on pityrosporon ovale. Local, lithium-based treatments are also effective. The best way to stabilize outbreaks is with prolonged maintenance treatments.