The mainstay of seborrheic dermatitis treatment is frequent cleaning. Medicinal soaps or shampoos containing zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, sulfur, salicylic acid, or tar provide additional benefit. Topical antifungals include ciclopirox, ketoconazole, or sertaconazole. These products, available as creams, foams or gels, are usually applied to affected areas twice daily for up to eight weeks and then as needed.
Seborrheic dermatitis cannot be cured, because once a person has become allergic to Malassezia on the skin, exposure to it will always cause a problem. The only way to keep it under control is to use antifungal treatments, which will suppress seborrheic dermatitis but not eradicate it. However, it is usually not difficult to keep seborrheic dermatitis under control, and topical treatments are safe to use in the long term. Milder cases are often treated with over-the-counter remedies, and pharmacists should be able to advise them.
As mentioned, one of the main suspects of seborrheic dermatitis is yeast. Yeast is a fungus, just like athlete’s foot or fungi. The use of antifungal creams on the affected area has been shown to help eliminate this type of seborrheic dermatitis, as it kills the responsible yeast. Anti-inflammatory and antifungal creams and shampoos can effectively relieve symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis in adolescents and adults.
But these drugs only have a temporary effect, so they will not eliminate them forever. Not all cases of seborrheic dermatitis can be treated solely through the use of over-the-counter dandruff shampoos. The goal of treatment is to reduce the visible signs of seborrheic dermatitis and itching and redness. On the face, seborrheic dermatitis usually appears in places that have hair such as the eyebrows and eyelashes, as well as on the mustaches and beards.
Patients of any age can develop seborrheic dermatitis, including infants (known as “cradle cap”), adolescents and adults. Seborrheic dermatitis is not harmful to the patient’s health, nor is it contagious, and fortunately complications are rare. Your healthcare provider may prescribe these products if antifungal products fail to eliminate seborrheic dermatitis or to treat flare-ups. Using a specialized shampoo that contains coal tar or salicylic acid may help reduce symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.
Steroid drugs that are applied directly to the skin (topical medications such as creams or gels) have an anti-inflammatory effect, so they are often used to treat seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a lifelong condition that appears, disappears with treatment and exacerbates from time to time. Treatments for seborrheic dermatitis of the face and body include topical antifungals, corticosteroids, and calcineurin inhibitors. Although there are theories, true experts have not yet found that food causes or reduces seborrheic dermatitis.
If you still have seborrheic dermatitis after trying over-the-counter shampoos, make an appointment with a dermatologist. Similarly, a skin biopsy (a procedure in which a small sample of skin is removed) may be required in rare cases to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other conditions that mimic seborrheic dermatitis. Unlike seborrheic dermatitis, atopic dermatitis most often affects the face, hands, feet, the inside of the elbows and behind the knees. For more severe seborrheic dermatitis affecting the scalp, an application or lotion to the scalp containing a steroid and salicylic acid (e.g.