ABC Medical Center > Seborrheic dermatitis

What is Seborrheic dermatitis?

21:54 - 4 May , 2021


It is a fairly common skin condition that occurs in different areas of the body where the dermis is oily, such as the scalp, face, eyebrows, nose folds, back of the ears, eyelids, and in the middle part of the chest. It is also known as seborrheic eczema or seborrheic psoriasis. In babies, it is called cradle cap, because it forms scaly patches on the head.

So far, the origin of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown, but some studies indicate that it may be due to:

  • Epidermal alterations.
  • Family history.
  • Presence of yeast in the skin. 
  • Overactivity of the sebaceous glands.

There are other risk factors that can also contribute to the onset of this disease, such as:

  • Acne or oily skin.
  • Certain drugs. 
  • Extreme weather conditions.
  • Moderate intake of alcohol or use of cosmetic products with this substance.
  • Extreme stress or tiredness.
  • Overweight and obesity.
  • A weak immune system, as is the case with AIDS patients, cancer patients, and organ transplant recipients, among others.
  • Blows to the head, or neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease.

Signs and symptoms Seborrheic dermatitis

The most common symptoms are:

  • Scaly skin lesions.
  • Presence of white or yellow greasy scales on the skin.
  • Skin redness.
  • Purulent scabs susceptible to infection. 
  • Rash.
  • Itch. 
  • Excess sebaceous secretion in the skin.

These symptoms worsen by intense stress and intensify during the winter.

Potential complications:

  • Anxiety.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Depression.
  • Secondary bacterial or fungal infections.
  • Shame.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic intermittent condition that can be controlled with proper treatment and skin care, such as daily use of fragrance-free, hypoallergenic soap and shampoo, preferably oatmeal, which help reduce sebum and scales.

Diagnosis and treatment Seborrheic dermatitis

Your doctor will analyze your symptoms and your clinical history, in addition to thoroughly checking your skin lesions. If deemed necessary, he or she will take a small tissue sample to be analyzed in order to confirm the diagnosis and rule out the presence of other conditions.

The treatment will depend on your symptoms, which may include the use of shampoos, lotions, and ointments to treat seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff, which usually contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, ketoconazole, resorcinol, and zinc.

In more extreme cases, it will be necessary:

  • Topical application of corticosteroids.
  • Lotions with drugs that weaken the immune system to reduce the allergic reaction. 
  • Phototherapy.

Seborrheic dermatitis can sometimes disappear without treatment and sometimes it is necessary to repeat the treatment several times until the symptoms disappear, although they may reappear later.

In ABC Medical Center’s Internal Medicine Department, we offer health care services with the highest quality and safety, from the prevention, diagnosis, timely treatment, and monitoring of infectious, respiratory, endocrinological, dermatological, rheumatic, nephrological, gastrointestinal, and hematological pathologies of both chronic-degenerative diseases and acute conditions, through a comprehensive and multidisciplinary model.


  • aeped.es
  • mayoclinic.org
  • medlinesplus.gov
  • msdmanuals.com
  • topdoctors.es
  • medigraphic.com
  • Merino-Ruisanchez A, Arenas R, Fernández-Martínez R, et al. Frecuencia de Malassezia spp en pacientes con VIH/SIDA con dermatitis seborreica en la piel cabelluda. Med Int Mex. 2021;37(2):182-187.
  • Tello-Ibáñez OO, Fabián-San Miguel G, Arenas R, et al. Dermatitis seborreica y Malassezia. Relación en pacientes con diabetes mellitus tipo 2. Med Int Mex. 2016;32(2):185-189.
  • Medina CDE. Dermatitis seborreica: una revisión. Dermatología Cosmética, Médica y Quirúrgica. 2014;12(2):135-141.
  • Monteagudo B, Cabanillas M, Suárez-Amor O, et al. Queratosis seborreicas eruptivas y transitorias desencadenadas por una dermatitis seborreica. Med Cutan Iber Lat Am. 2011;39(2):63-65.

How can we help you?

    The dissemination of the content of this material is for informational purposes only and does not replace, under any circumstance or condition, a consultation with a specialist doctor, for which the ABC Medical Center is not responsible for the different use that may be given to it. If you require more information related to the subject, we suggest you contact the specialist doctor you trust directly.