What’s Causing Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp?

Seborrheic dermatitis, which considered a chronic form of eczema, appears on the body where there are a lot of oil-producing, glands like scalp. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown; however, genes and hormones play a role. Microorganisms that live on the skin naturally can contribute to seborrheic dermatitis.

Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp
Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp

Anyone of any age can develop seborrheic dermatitis on scalp including infants , it is also known as “cradle cap”. The triggers for seborrheic dermatitis may include:

  • Hormonal changes or illness
  • Stress
  • Cold, dry weather
  • Harsh detergents, solvents, chemicals and soaps


Seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious. Generally, seborrheic dermatitis is more common in men than in women. Patients with certain diseases which affect the immune system and the nervous system are also at increased risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis.


 What’s Causing Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp?

As we mentioned, doctors don’t yet know the exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis on scalp. But it may be related to:

  • A yeast, which is called malassezia, that is in the oil secretion on the skin
  • An inflammatory response related to psoriasis
  • The season, with episodes tending to be worse in early spring and winter


What are the symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp?

Seborrheic dermatitis appears on the scalp, where symptoms may range from dry flakes to yellow, greasy scales with reddened skin. You can also develop seborrheic dermatitis on other oily areas of your body, such as the face, upper chest and back.

Common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis on Scalp include:

  • Greasy, swollen skin
  • Redness
  • White or yellowish crusty flakes
  • itchy or burning skin


What are the factors that increase the Risk of Developing Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp?

There is a number of factors that increase your risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis on scalp which include:

  • Neurological and psychiatric conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease and depression
  • A weakened immune system, such as seen in organ transplant recipients and people with HIV/AIDS, alcoholic pancreatitis and some cancers
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Endocrine disease that leads to obesity, such as diabetes
  • Scratching or otherwise damaging the skin on your face
  • Some medications


How to Diagnose Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp?

Seborrheic dermatitis may seem like other skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. There is no test for diagnosing seborrheic dermatitis. Your doctor may ask you about your medical history and perform a physical examination of your skin. Also, the doctor with scrape a bit of skin, mix it with a chemical and look at it under a microscope to determine if there is a fungal infection. A skin biopsy may be required to rule out the other conditions that look like seborrheic dermatitis. If you are experiencing symptoms, see your doctor to get the correct diagnosis and treatment.


How to Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis on Scalp?

In mild cases, it may be enough to control symptoms using a topical antifungal cream or medicated shampoo. In more severe cases, you can receive a prescription for a mild corticosteroid medication to calm the inflammation. Use topical corticosteroids only as directed when the seborrheic dermatitis is actively flaring.

When corticosteroids are not appropriate, or when they have been used for a prolonged period, a non-corticosteroid topical medication may be prescribed. These medications are known as topical calcineurin inhibitors (TCIs) and are approved for use by adults and children two years of age or older. You can also use oral antifungal agents in very severe cases.


What to Worry?

See a doctor if:

  • Your condition is causing embarrassment and anxiety
  • You’re so uncomfortable and you’re losing sleep or being distracted from your daily routines
  • You suspect your skin is infected
  • self-care steps don’t make any improvement.

One Comment - Write a Comment

  1. I NEVER had seborrheic dermatitis in my life up until just recently and I am 47. I have it in my scalp and am growing increasingly concerned b/c I am REALLY losing a lot of hair every single time I have to brush my hair. Don’t get me wrong, I have long and VERY thick hair, but have lost SO much that I am balding and have 4-5 noticeable bald spots. Now if I didn’t have to brush my hair, it wouldn’t be that noticeable, but I work in an office setting and need to look presentable, so have to brush through my hair daily. This big flakey yellowish scabs on my scalp are EVERYWHERE (huge bumps with these HUGE yellow flakes that are the size of big scabs that cover great portions of almost my entire scalp (with the exception of the portion of hair right along my neck line area and when they start to “peel up/flake off my actual scalp (I guess due to the medicated shampoo my doc prescribed called, “Ketoconazole”), HOWEVER, these flakes do not fall like “NORMAL” dandruff flakes, b/c they actually stick to the hair follicle (like CRAZY GLUE no exaggeration and they are huge) & if you try to peel them off, wads and wads of hair are attached to it (so obviously I went to my doc) and NOW I just follow her instructions (by using this shampoo she prescribed). BUT, but I still need to brush my hair (daily for work) which causes for more WADS of hair loss and I’m being VERY gentle too. Some of my hair loss will have the HUGE yellowish flakes attached to the roots of this hair loss. I’m growing increasing concerned and wanted advice from someone who has more experience than I obviously do with any helpful tips, any advice that would be helpful/beneficial, etc. My doc said this could take months and months for my scalp to completely heal (& it most certainly can reoccur again too she said). As stated, I m 47 and NEVER had this in my life-have NO clue as to why I would develop it now. For those who can share anything helpful, PLEASE do, I’m becoming rather depressed and discouraged. Thank you!


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