Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disease; it occurs in areas rich in sebaceous glands: the central region of the face, the ends of the scalp and the chest.


A yeast, Pityrosporum ovale, plays an essential role in the occurrence of inflammation. However, experts are still unsure of what causes Seborrheic Dermatitis remains unknown

It is related to the proliferation of various skin yeasts (Malassezia species), but there is no scientific consensus in this regard.

The weakness of the immune system may also play a part. Seborrheic dermatitis is more common in patients whose immune systems are compromised, such as AIDS patients.


Facial seborrheic dermatitis gives rise to reddish marks, often initially in the folds of the skin. The skin tends to flake. Scaly plaques may form, with white or yellowish scales.

The discolored areas may become itchy. The symptoms tend to come and go, which means that many dubious treatments may seem to be effective.

Exposure to sunlight tends to lessen the symptoms in some cases. On the scalp, seborrheic dermatitis takes the form of dandruff.

Some other diseases, such as allergic eczema and psoriasis, can give similar symptoms, so it’s always worth checking with a qualified healthcare professional for a firm diagnosis before treating yourself.

A patient who suffers from Atopic Dermatitis will display dry reddish skin.

You have skin prone to peeling, thickening and cracking. The skin itches intensely and tends to redden and becomes inflamed.

That is not only due to a deficiency of hydration but also to an alteration of the metabolism of fatty acids that can lead to a change in the barrier function that the skin has, causing outbreaks of eruptions


Aloe vera is a common ingredient in herbal medicines for dermatitis. It is a succulent plant, which humankind has been cultivating for its medicinal benefits for thousands of years.

A double-blind scientific trial has shown that an Aloe vera emulsion is better than a placebo in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis.

Patients can use anti-dandruff shampoos to treat mild cases of facial seborrheic dermatitis. They can choose shampoos containing zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole.

Hydrocortisone Cream is another standard treatment for facial seborrheic dermatitis. It is a steroid cream, which can quickly heal the face in some cases.

People should always avoid the prolonged use of steroid creams, since they can cause various side-effects, including skin thinning and discoloration.

Take advice from a physician before using hydrocortisone cream on your face.

Medical experts recommend Isotretinoin Therapy to deal with severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis. Patients take a pill orally.

It is a teratogenic compound, giving rise to deformities in babies, so all women using this medication must also take adequate contraceptive measures.

The compound also has many other significant side effects, so is very rarely used.

Ketoconazole Cream is often used to treat facial seborrheic dermatitis. Ketoconazole is a synthetic antifungal agent, which is active against yeast species.

A study has shown that 2% ketoconazole gel is significantly better than the equivalent gel that does not contain ketoconazole for treating moderate to severe seborrheic dermatitis.

Pimecrolimus (Elidel) Cream is a treatment that works by modulating the immune system. There is some controversy as to whether or not it increases the likelihood of cancer.

The risks are often very low, which is why pharmacists don’t withdraw the compound. A burning sensation is a common side-effect. Doctors resort to Pimecrolimus when other treatments have failed.

Sodium Sulfacetamide Cream can be used to treat seborrheic dermatitis. It is an anti-bacterial compound, which is also used to treat acne. Sometimes, people use it in combination with sulfur.

Tacrolimus Ointment is a treatment that modulates the immune system. Just like Pimecrolimus, there is controversy as to whether it increases the likelihood of cancer.

Tea Tree Oil is a commonly-used herbal remedy. It is an extract from the leaves of the tea tree, Melaleuca alternifolia, which is native to Australia.

It is not related to the plant that gives the beverage tea. A study has shown it is more efficient than a placebo in treating dandruff.

However, since the study was single-blinded, not double-blinded (the physicians treating the patients knew which patients were receiving the placebo), the study left room for improvement.

Complementary Factors

Other factors can aggravate existing symptoms, although they vary significantly from one person to another. They are:

  • Certain foods and beverages (mainly dairy products, nuts, shellfish, and alcohol).
  • Allergens (house dust mites, pollen and dust)
  • Formaldehyde.
  • Detergents.
  • Stress.
  • Lack of sleep.
  • Sweat.
  • Smoking.

Any specific dermo-cosmetic products?

The skin of patients suffering from seborrheic dermatitis is easily irritated by merely washing the face.

We recommend mild cleansers (micellar lotion and other types of creams), but never soap, which makes the irritation worse. Moisturizers are not always well tolerated.

However, if the skin is tight, it needs hydration. Choose dermo-cosmetic products designed to be tolerated and contain active agents that alleviate seborrheic dermatitis.

Any other medical treatment?

If possible, patients should avoid topical corticosteroids.

Although they are useful, they can produce small acne-like lesions in these areas, rich in sebaceous glands. It can also lead to rosacea if used regularly.

Antifungal creams (with ketoconazole) get prescribed for Pityrosporum ovale. We recommend a long-term maintenance treatment to stabilize the outbreaks.

Special care

  • Cold temperatures, mainly at night, are useful, as sweat causes irritation and itching.
  • It is best to keep the prevention products in the refrigerator as the application of cold creams and lotions offers more significant relief from itching.
  • You can use makeup, but it is best to use products designed for sensitive skin.
  • Keeping a diary can make it easier to determine which foods and drinks make the symptoms worse.
  • Holiday destinations in resorts suitable for climatic treatments, such as those in the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean, the Dead Sea, the Mediterranean Sea or high mountain areas, can be useful.
  • Relaxation exercises such as yoga and meditation can reduce stress, one of the factors that can influence facial atopic dermatitis.
  • When itching occurs, it is better to tap into the flesh than to scratch it. It calms the skin but without damaging it.
  • After the shower, dry the skin by using the towel until it is almost dry and immediately apply a cream or lotion.
  • Keep children’s fingernails short and well kept to prevent scratching infections.
  • Avoid mechanical irritations such as those caused by hard sponges.