Seborrhoeic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis (=Seborrhoeic Dermatitis) is a common, chronic, superficial skin disorder causing scaly, itchy, red skin on the scalp, face, upper chest, back and other oily areas in the body. Seborrheic dermatitis is one of the leading causes of stubborn dandruff and occurs in all age groups. This condition primarily affects the sebaceous cysts present in the skin.

The sebaceous glands are present nearly everywhere in our skin except on the palms and soles. These glands secrete an oily substance (sebum) which consists of fat, and dead fat-producing cells.

People with this condition seem to have increased production of sebum.

Symptoms of Seborrhoeic dermatitis:

Common symptoms of this disorder are:

  • Patchy scaling and thick crusts on scalp
  • Plaques may include the scalp, eyebrows, nose, forehead, or ears.
  • Sometimes it may affect your breastbone, your groin area, and your armpits.
  • Scales may be white or yellowish and attach themselves to the body of the hair
  • Greasy, red skin with white or yellowish, flaky scales
  • Skin flakes or dandruff
  • Small red-brown bumps on skin
  • Itch or soreness
  • Hair loss: this occurs in very long-standing cases having repeated inflammations of the sebaceous gland.
  • Dandruff is thought to be closely related to seborrheic dermatitis, but is less severe.

Causes of Seborrhoeic dermatitis:

Seborrheic dermatitis is thought to be due to a combination of an over production of skin oil and irritation from a yeast called malessizia.

Recent studies have attributed seborrheic dermatitis to the presence and perhaps over-abundance of malessizia furfur, a naturally-occurring yeast on the surface of the skin. (4-8) Other researchers consider seborrheic dermatitis to be an inherited primary inflammatory process and malessizia furfur to cause only a secondary aggravation of the condition.

Persons prone to seborrheic dermatitis respond unfavorable to an infection with malessizia furfur resulting in itchy, flaky, red, irritated skin.

Certain factors increase the risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis:

  • Affection of a close family member
  • Obesity
  • Oily skin
  • Stress
  • Fatigue
  • Infrequent shampooing and use of hair-care products containing alcohol
  • Skin disorders like acne.
  • HIV infections
About the author


Eric Smith is a medical professional and researcher. His actual research interests are focused on psoriasis, hair loss, cosmetic dermatology, facial rejuvenation, hair diseases, mesotherapy and fillers.