Seborrhea: What It Is and How to Treat It

What is Seborrhea?

Seborrhea (pronounced seb-uh-ree-uh) is a very common skin problem. It causes a red, itchy rash and white scales. When it affects the scalp, it is called “dandruff.” It can be on parts of the face as well, including the folds around the nose and behind the ears, the forehead, and the eyebrows and eyelids. On the body, seborrhea often occurs in the middle part of the chest, around the navel and in the skin folds under the arm, below the breasts and in the groin and buttocks area.

Who Gets Seborrhea?

Anyone can get it. From infants to the elderly, suffers come in all shapes and sizes. The condition is found more often in men than in women. Seborrhea occurs more frequently in persons with oily skin. It is also common in patients with Parkinson’s disease, AIDS and other diseases.

What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?

The cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis is not fully understood. It is likely that a number of factors, such as hormones, health problems and stress can play a huge roll. While Seborrhea isn’t necessarily a “yeast infection,” the condition develops based on a yeast-like organism that grows in the body. Some health care professionals equate Seborrhea to Candida. While, they are different issues, these two conditions share a common link, which is yeast build-up.

How is Seborrheic Dermatitis Treated?

Treatment will help keep Seborrhea under control, but hygiene is a huge factor with this condition. It’s important to keep your body clean.

Dandruff Shampoo

If you have dandruff you can try these medicated shampoos. You may need to try more than one brand to see which one is right for you.

Neutrogena T/Gel
Tegrin Medicated
DHS Zinc Sebulon
Head & Shoulders
Selsun Blue
X-Seb T


When using dandruff shampoo, first wet your hair. Rub some shampoo into your scalp and hair. Leave the shampoo on your scalp and hair for at least 5 minutes. Then rinse it out. Use the dandruff shampoo every day until your dandruff goes away. Then use the medicated shampoo 2 or 3 times a week to keep dandruff away. Having dandruff does not mean that your scalp is too dry! Dandruff comes because you need to wash your hair more often.

Cradle Cap:

If you’ve never heard of it before, Cradle Cap is a type of rash that affects infants. Think of it as the infant version of Seborrhea. It can be very uncomfortable for the little sufferers, but will get better with daily shampooing and treatment. First, try a mild, nonmedicated baby shampoo. If that doesn’t work, try an a dandruff shampoo. If the patch of cradle cap is large and thick, first try softening it by rubbing on warm mineral oil. Next, gently brush with a baby hairbrush. Then use shampoo.

Seborrhea on the Face and Body:

Body sufferers will realize a big improvement if the affected areas are washed every day with soap and water. Rest and exercise, especially outdoors, will help. Sunlight seems to stop growth of the yeast organism that causes affected areas to become inflamed. Don’t forget to use a sunscreen! If you have seborrhea around your beard and mustache, the problem will often go away if you shave the hair.

Other Treatments:

Medicated shampoos (applied as a lotion to the face and body), sulfur products, topical corticosteroid preparations, as well as topical antifungals, are also used to control this problem. See your doctor for advice, as some of these preparations have side effects and require a prescription.

A Cure for Seborrhea?

If you have seborrhea because of an underlying medical problem, the seborrhea may go away when the medical problem is treated. For most people, however, seborrhea is a lifetime problem that can be controlled with good hygiene and by using the right preparation. Many sufferers have found a well balanced diet with real food, raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean meats helps. Avoid heavy starchy foods, heavy glutens, sugars, fried foods, etc. You can never good wrong with a well balanced diet. Talk to your health care professional for assistance.

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