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Is it Oily Skin or Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Aug 17, 2007
Seborrheic Dermatitis is also referred to as Dandruff, Seborrheic Eczema and Cradle Cap used in conjunction with infants who have seborrheic dermatitis). It is a condition which is characterized by inflammation, itching, and scales which form on oily or greasy areas of the skin (for instance, the scalp, eyebrows, eyelids, sides of nose, behind ears, in middle body skin folds, and inside the ear). It sometimes has a red or pinkish tint to affected skin. Skin affected by this condition often looks oily and scaly.

The actual cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known but it seems to be genetic as patients who have it usually have family members who also have or have had it. The condition may be worsened by stress, fatigue, extreme temperatures, infrequent cleansing of affected areas, using personal hygiene products which contain alcohol on affected areas, oily skin, and obesity.

Hormones may be a factor in seborrheic dermatitis as can a fungus called malassezia. This fungus, normal to the skin, can increase during illness, high stress, and other triggers. With such increases, skin problems result, including seborrheic dermatitis.

Head Injuries, Parkinsons disease, stroke, and HIV have also been linked to this skin condition. However, seborrheic dermatitis does not mean that you have one of these linked conditions. This oily skin condition occurs most as cradle cap in infants less than three months old and in adults between 30 and 60 years of age as dandruff. It appears more in men than in women.

Seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious, caused by poor hygiene, an allergic reaction, or dangerous to the patient. The biggest health issue associated with this oily skin condition is skin damage and/or open wounds caused by scratching. Broken skin from scratching can develop infections (bacterial, viral, or fungal); these infections are usually mild and easily treated but can be more insidious (such as staph infections).

Treatment of the condition depends on the body part affected and the patients age:

Dandruff generally has good results when treated with prescribed shampoos which may contain one of the following medications: salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, or pyrithione zinc. Usage is usually twice per week for the above prescribed shampoos, but may be three times a week if you are using an over the counter tar based shampoo. The tar based shampoos may be used daily when treatment is first begun; usage is reduced after the dandruff is better controlled. In addition to usage requirements, how you use the shampoos is also important. Massage the shampoo through very wet hair making sure it covers the scalp well, let sit for about 10 minutes, and rinse well with warm water. Topical corticosteroids in a cream or lotion form may be prescribed if the traditional shampoos do not control the scaly, oily condition. These are usually applied one to two times a day.

In cases of seborrheic dermatitis appearing in adults skin folds, corticosteroids are usually prescribed in a cream or lotion form. Dosage is usually one to two times per day.

Cradle Cap is usually relieved by careful cleaning, moisturizing, and massage (using a baby brush). Do not pick at the oily scales, let them loosen through cleansing and moisturizing then they usually come off when brushed softly with a baby brush. Picking at them or brushing too roughly can result in broken skin and the risk of infection. If you have tried this for several days and do not see significant improvement, you may want to talk to your babys pediatrician about the condition. Do not attempt to use over the counter shampoos (like the above mentioned shampoos) without consulting the doctor. Babies skin is extremely delicate and needs special treatment.

When the oily scales of seborrheic dermatitis appear in skin folds on babies, very mild topical corticosteroids in lotion or cream form are usually prescribed. Normal dosage is once daily.

While seborrheic dermatitis is greatly affected by oil gland production, it is not necessarily going to occur on everyone who has oily skin. Care for it is a combination of the care for other forms of eczema and the care regimen for oily skin. It is important to keep the area cleansed but not over cleansed and moisturizing is helpful in controlling this condition. Moisturizing the scalp is usually best done through good, moisturizing conditioners.
About the Author
Louise Forrest has created the ultimate FREE Health & Beauty guide. Find out how you can gain access to FREE natural skin care articles, tips and techniques at http://www.NaturalElements.co.uk
Discover how you can control your oily skin and how to remove spots and breakouts which can occur at www.NaturalElements.co.uk
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