Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that affects many people. This is considered a chronic form of eczema that many infants and adults aged 30 to 60 can experience. This condition is more common in males when it comes to adults, and teens. It can be an annoying and persistent problem, causing redness, itching, scaling, and flaking on the scalp, face, and other body areas.
Research shows that in every 100 people, there are 3-10 who will experience this skin disease in their lifetime. If you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, it’s essential to understand what it is, what causes it, and how you can manage it. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the basics of seborrheic dermatitis and offer advice on identifying and treating it.
What are the causes of Seborrheic dermatitis?
Some experts believe a mixture of environmental and genetic factors forms this skin condition. There are misconceptions about this condition, saying that this development is caused by poor hygiene, which isn’t the case.
What can worsen the condition is the over-washing of affected areas by stripping the skin of its natural oils. Before you consult a dermatologist regarding Seborrheic dermatitis, it’s essential to know some causes of it:
Change in the season
This cause can exacerbate or trigger the condition, especially during winter. Low humidity and cold water can cause the skin to become flaky and dry, worsening the symptoms of Seborrheic dermatitis.
Moreover, the Malassezia yeast is affected by changes in humidity and temperature. This yeast is believed to have a role in developing the skin condition. People would choose to spend time indoors during the winter season and in environments with dry heating systems. As a result, this will dry out the skin and worsen the Seborrheic dermatitis condition.
Another cause of Seborrheic dermatitis would be hormonal imbalances which can cause excess oil secretion. This is why this cause is often seen in adolescents since they’re the ones that transmit physical changes in the body. Androgens, or fluctuations in hormones, can cause sebum overproduction, and this is the only oily substance under the production of oil glands from the skin.
Women can also experience hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause as a cause of this condition. Increased androgen production in puberty results from an overproduction of sebum, leading to the development of Seborrheic dermatitis in the face, scalp, and other areas of the body. Pregnancy also increases sebum production, which will trigger symptoms of Seborrheic dermatitis. While a decrease in estrogen levels during menopause can bring changes to the skin, including an increase in sebum production and a reduction in skin hydration and thickness.
What are the symptoms of Seborrheic dermatitis?
A study published in the Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology shows 30% of people experienced symptoms of Seborrheic dermatitis on the face, while 50% experienced such symptoms on the scalp. There’s also a study published in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology that shows people who have a lower quality of life and suffer from psychological distress are most likely to have the condition.
It’s important to note that Seborrheic dermatitis is a multifactorial condition that has several contributing factors. The severity of symptoms will always differ from person to person. To spot if you have Seborrheic dermatitis, here are 3 symptoms to look out for:
Symptom No. 1: Rash in the skin folds
The skin will break down if it stays wet for a long time. Maceration is the medical term for this symptom. Maceration is more common in areas such as your belly button, beneath the breasts, and the armpits. Moreover, maceration causes a burning sensation, tenderness, itchiness, and pain.
The skin may become infected or may start to spill if left untreated. Rash in the skin folds, also known as intertriginous seborrheic dermatitis, can leave a foul odor or cause skin discoloration. It’s important to note that this symptom is more common in people who have diabetes, are immunocompromised, and are overweight.
Symptom No. 2: Rash in your eyelids
Also known as blepharitis, this occurs when the oil glands of your eyelids become inflamed. The skin of your eyelids can become itchy, discolored, swollen, scaly, and irritated. Between your eyelashes, you may develop a yellowish scale. It may feel uncomfortable, but it can still damage your eyes.
This symptom can be a recurring or chronic condition that can be triggered by different factors. These factors may include allergies, stress, and hormonal changes. Regarding the development of eyelid dermatitis, the overgrowth of the Malassezia yeast is involved.
Symptom No. 3: Rash on scalp
This symptom has a rash that has greasy scales and is also dry. The rash looks pink, slightly purple, or lighter than your natural skin tone if you have a darker skin tone. People with darker skin tones even have white spots located on their scalp. While the rash is usually red and raised in lighter skin tones.
Rash on the scalp can also cause itching, flaking, and redness of the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis occurs on the scalp because oil glands in the skin produce a large amount of sebum. This creates a favorable environment for the development of the Malassezia yeast.
What are the treatments for Seborrheic dermatitis?
The treatment for Seborrheic dermatitis will vary depending on the location of the rash and the severity of the symptoms. It’s essential to remember that Seborrheic dermatitis can lead to hair loss, secondary bacterial infections, and severe itching without proper treatment.
Which is why it’s important to seek medical help once you experience symptoms of Seborrheic dermatitis. Treating Seborrheic dermatitis involves a combination of lifestyle modifications and medications, and here are some of them:
Treatment No. 1: Sulfur-based products
Salicylic acid combinations and sulfur can improve skin texture and help control yeast’s overgrowth. Sulfur ointment is used to treat scabies and Seborrheic dermatitis. Some sulfur preparations will only be available depending on your doctor’s prescription.
Sulfur-based products are also available in the dosage forms of shampoo and cream. Sulfur’s concentration as over-the-counter products dramatically varies. Those that contain higher concentrations will only be available through your doctor’s prescription. Additionally, sulfur is keratolytic, and keratolytic agents function by loosening and softening scaly, thickened, and dry skin. Doctors call this process hyperkeratosis.
Treatment No. 2: Topical antifungal agents
These types of medications work by reducing inflammation on the affected areas and inhibiting yeast growth. You can use some common topical antifungal agents such as Selenium sulfide, Ketoconazole, and Terbinafine.
It’s important to note that topical antifungal agents are well-tolerated and generally safe. But this treatment can still cause mild side effects such as burning, itching, and skin dryness. To avoid any potential side effects, it’s crucial to use these medications as prescribed by your doctor.
Treatment No. 3: Lifestyle modifications
Aside from medications, your doctor will advice you to apply significant changes in your lifestyle, especially in the skin care products you use to relieve Seborrheic dermatitis symptoms and even your diet. You may apply lifestyle changes such as:
- Regularly washing your scalp and hair
- Using gentle hair and skin care products
- Applying olive, jojoba, or other healthy oils on your scalp for scales removal
Applying lifestyle modifications can also help you in preventing from having this condition in terms of avoiding allergens, stress, and woolens.