Seborrheic dermatitis is a very common skin disease that causes redness as well as white or yellow greasy or dry scale. This condition is long-lasting in adults once it begins, which often is between 30 and 60 years of age. It also appears in infants as cradle cap, but this usually goes away on its own within a few months. Sometimes babies can get seborrheic dermatitis in the diaper area or on other areas of the body, but this also clears by 6 months to 1 year of age.
In adults, seborrheic dermatitis tends to appear where the skin is most oily:
- Ears (in and around)
- Eyebrows and eyelids
- Sides of the nose
- Around the mouth
- Central and upper chest
- Upper back
Although seborrheic dermatitis is very common, there are several medical conditions that can increase the risk and severity of this skin condition.
Seborrheic dermatitis is often easily diagnosed by your dermatologist without the need for further testing, although there are several less common skin conditions that can mimic its appearance.
Since part of what causes seborrheic dermatitis is the skin reacting to yeast that lives on all of us, treatments that target this yeast are an important part of treatment for this condition. In adults, these often include dandruff shampoos and prescription antifungal cream medications. Sometimes these are combined with anti-inflammatory medications such as a mild topical corticosteroid. Vaseline ointment can actually worsen this condition and is not recommended.
For cradle cap in infants, it is often recommended to just use baby shampoo to gently soften the flaky scale on the scalp and use a comb or brush to remove the softened scale. The condition will resolve by 6-12 months of age.