Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a condition that makes your skin red, flaky and itchy. It affects areas of your skin that tend to be greasier – for example, your face, scalp and center of your chest. It’s also known as seborrhoeic eczema.

There are infantile and adult forms of seborrhoeic dermatitis. 

Dandruff (also called ‘pityriasis capitis’) is an uninflamed form of seborrhoeic dermatitis on the scalp. Dandruff presents as diffuse bran-like scaly patches within hair-bearing areas of the scalp without underlying erythema. Dandruff may be asymptomatic or mildly pruritic.

About seborrhoeic dermatitis

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a common skin condition affecting 3% to 12% of the population.

It has a biphasic incidence occurring in infants and in adolescents and adults.

Infantile seborrhoeic dermatitis affects babies under the age of 3 months and usually resolves by 6-12 months of age.

Adult seborrhoeic dermatitis tends to begin in late adolescence. Prevalence is greatest in young adults and in older people. It is more common in males than in females.

Seborrhoeic dermatitis often occurs in otherwise healthy patients. However, the following factors are sometimes associated with severe adult seborrhoeic dermatitis:

  • Oily skin (seborrhea)
  • Familial tendency to seborrhoeic dermatitis or a family history of psoriasis
  • Immunosuppression: organ transplant recipients, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection, and patients with lymphoma
  • Neurological and psychiatric diseases: Parkinson’s disease, tardive dyskinesia, depression, epilepsy, facial nerve palsy, spinal cord injury, and congenital disorders such as Down syndrome
  • Use of neuroleptic medications
  • Treatment for psoriasis with psoralen and ultraviolet A (PUVA) therapy
  • Lack of sleep, and stressful events.

What Causes Seborrhoeic Dermatitis?

The etiology is not completely understood. 

Several factors are associated with the condition e.g. hormone levels, fungal infections, nutritional deficits, and neurogenic factors. The proliferation of Malassezia yeast genus is believed to play a role. The lipases and phospholipases produced by Malassezia, a saprophyte of normal skin, cleave free fatty acids from triglycerides present in sebum. This may induce inflammation. Differences in skin barrier lipid content and function may account for individual presentations.

What Are The Symptoms Of Seborrhoeic Dermatitis?

  • Symptoms in teenagers and adults

Seborrhoeic dermatitis causes red, flaky or scaly patches on your skin. The affected area may be itchy and sore. The most commonly affected areas include the following: 

  • Your scalp – symptoms range from mild, flaky skin (dandruff) to a more severe, scalier, itchy rash that may weep.
  • Your face – especially between your eyebrows, on your cheeks and in the folds at the sides of your nose. It can also affect your eyelids, making them red, swollen and flaky. This is known as blepharitis.
  • Your ears – the skin inside your ear may become inflamed, as well as your outer ear and the skin behind your ear.
  • Your upper chest and your back, between your shoulder blades, may have round, pink or red patches with mild scaling.
  • Skin folds – these are areas that tend to stay moist and include your armpits, under your breasts and your groin. Your skin here might appear pink, shiny and cracked.
  • Symptoms in babies

Babies often get a short-lived form of seborrhoeic dermatitis on their scalp, known as cradle cap. This causes greasy, yellow-brown, scaly patches on their scalp. Seborrhoeic dermatitis can sometimes also affect other parts of your baby’s body, including the face, behind their ears and in skin folds. In these areas, the affected skin usually has drier, whiter scales than those on the scalp. It can also develop in your baby's nappy area. Any itching in babies is usually mild and is unlikely to bother your baby.

Cradle cap usually gets better by about four months of age, but your baby may have it for up to a year.

Ozonated Oils and Seborrhoeic Dermatitis

Ozonated oils may provide relief for the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. Ozonated oils are common vegetable oils like olive, grapeseed and coconut which have had massive amounts of medical-grade ozone or activated oxygen bubbled through them. This action causes the essential fatty acids within the oils to turn into ozonides. Ozonides contain active or nascent oxygen which is known to eliminate yeast, viruses, bacteria, mold and cysts. The soothing healing power of olive oil is also well known by millions of women worldwide who use it as a face crème. By combining the power of active oxygen with the healing power of olive oil, an amazing product is born to soothe and promote healing for even tough skin problems. The ozonides in the ozonated olive oil eliminate the microorganisms causing the inflammation and the olive oil soothes and heals the skin.

Bacteria and yeast colonize within 24 hours. If ozonated olive oil is used daily, the microorganisms are greatly reduced and unable to efficiently colonize, leaving the skin more able to heal and less inflamed.


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