Dandruff raining on your face, chest or back? It might be seborrheic dermatitis

Did all the anti-dandruff shampoos claiming to remove dandruff turn out to be a sham for you? Read on.

Myupchar December 25, 2019 15:14:04 IST
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Dandruff raining on your face, chest or back? It might be seborrheic dermatitis

Did all the anti-dandruff shampoos that claim to remove dandruff, turn out to be a hoax for you? Do the sites of your dandruff itch and burn? Then you must seek medical help as it could be seborrheic dermatitis.

A study conducted in India in 2010 reported that 13.4% of children under 5 years of age had seborrheic dermatitis, with the prevalence peaking during infancy and decreasing steadily with age. The study further indicated that amongst all the cases of skin diseases, 18.7% of them were cases of seborrheic dermatitis.

Dandruff raining on your face chest or back It might be seborrheic dermatitis

What is seborrheic dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition which involves the presence of red patches with yellow-grey dandruff-like flakes that mostly appear on the face, scalp, upper chest, and back. It is not regular dandruff, as the regular dandruff variety is restricted to the scalp, and involves itchy, flaking skin without visible redness.

Various factors like infection due to Malassezia yeast, excessive sebaceous secretion (oil secretion from glands), and a weak immune response may all contribute to seborrheic dermatitis.

What symptoms point to seborrheic dermatitis? 

The classic symptom of seborrheic dermatitis is the presence of dandruff not just on the scalp but on other places too like in and around the ears, on the eyebrows, on the nose, on the back, and on the upper portion of the chest. Here are some symptoms you should look for:

  • The dandruff looks like scaly patches that flake off, and these patches can be yellowish-white in colour and make the skin greasy and oily.
  • The affected skin is red in colour and could be itchy at times.
  • A person with seborrheic dermatitis may also suffer from hair loss.
  • When the flaky patches are seen on an infant’s scalp then it is called a cradle cap. It does not cause any harm to the infant.

How can it be treated?

For infants, no medical help is required as the cradle cap goes away on its own without any medication. Meanwhile, to manage the symptoms you may wash your baby's hair regularly with baby shampoo and gently loosen flakes with a soft brush. You can gently rub baby oil or any vegetable oil (such as olive oil) to soften the crusts.

For adults, multiple topical therapies, primarily shampoos and cream formulations have been used by the dermatologists to treat seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp and skin.

Medicated shampoos like selenium sulfide 2.5%, ketoconazole 2%, bifonazole 1% and ciclopirox 1.5% are prescribed to deal with the disease.

Other ointments and creams like hydrocortisone 1%, ketoconazole 2%, ciclopirox 1%, lithium succinate 8%, terbinafine 1%, and zinc sulfate 0.05% are used for skin lesions.

For more information, please read our article on Dermatitis.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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