Seborrheic dermatitis: Despite its appearance, this skin disease is not caused by poor hygiene.
This is a very common skin disease that causes a rash. When this rash appears, it often looks like the one pictured above. The skin tends to have a:
- Reddish color.
- Swollen and greasy appearance.
- White or yellowish crusty scale on the surface.
One or more of these rashes can appear on the body. Sometimes, the affected skin itches. Seborrheic dermatitis can look like psoriasis, eczema, or a skin allergy.
Cradle cap: A type of seborrheic dermatitis
Many infants get cradle cap. This is a type of seborrheic dermatitis (seb-uh-ree-ick dur-muh-tahy-tis) that develops in babies. Scaly, greasy patches form on the baby’s scalp. The patches can become thick and crusty, but cradle cap is harmless. Cradle cap usually goes away on its own within a few months.
Babies also get seborrheic dermatitis in their diaper area and elsewhere. In the diaper area, the red rash often is mistaken for diaper rash. A few babies get seborrheic dermatitis that covers much of the body with red, scaly patches.
No matter where the seborrheic dermatitis forms, it tends to permanently disappear between 6 months and 1 year of age.
Seborrheic dermatitis is long-lasting in adults
When an adult gets seborrheic dermatitis, the condition can come and go for the rest of the person’s life. Flare-ups are common when the weather turns cold and dry. Stress also can trigger a flare-up. The good news is that treatment can reduce flare-ups and bring relief.
Learn more about seborrheic dermatitis
References Finnish Medical Society Duodecim. “Seborrhoeic dermatitis.” In: EBM Guidelines. Evidence-Based Medicine [Internet]. Helsinki, Finland: Wiley Interscience. John Wiley & Sons; 2007 Apr 19 [Various].
Habif TP, Campbell JL, et al. “Seborrheic dermatitis.” In: Dermatology DDxDeck.China, Mosby Elsevier: 2006, p. 40.
Papp, KA, Papp A, et al. (November 2011). "Single-blind, randomized controlled trial evaluating the treatment of facial seborrheic dermatitis with hydrocortisone 1% ointment compared with tacrolimus 0.1% ointment in adults." J Am Acad Dermatol 10.1016/j.jaad.2011.02.032.
Plewig G Jansen T. “Seborrheic Dermatitis.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, et al. editors. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th ed. United States of America, McGraw Hill Medical; 2008. p.219-25.
Image used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.