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What is seborrheic dermatitis?

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Quick Answer

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin ailment characterized by itchy, flaky, irritated skin, notes Mayo Clinic. It can occur anywhere on the body although it predominantly affects the scalp, face and chest. Treatments range from over-the-counter shampoos and lotions to prescription medication.

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Full Answer

Seborrheic dermatitis typically affects infants and adults between the ages of 30 and 60, notes WebMD. Symptoms include dry, patchy, crusty skin, yellowish-brown or white flakes on the skin, redness, and irritation. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, but researchers believe that it may be related to a variety of factors including the presence of a naturally occurring skin fungus or yeast, seasonal changes, genetic predisposition and high stress levels. Other risk factors for developing seborrheic dermatitis include heart disease, diabetes, immune system disorders and neurological disorders, reports Mayo Clinic.

Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis typically focuses on the use of over-the-counter anti-fungal ointments and anti-fungal shampoos containing salicylic acid, zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide or ketoconazole reports WebMD. Prescription strength medications may also be used if over-the-counter remedies prove ineffective, states Mayo Clinic. These include corticosteroid ointments, medicated anti-fungal shampoos containing clobetasol, anti-bacterial lotions, and creams containing calcineurin inhibitors. Other treatments, such as oral anti-fungal medications and ultraviolet light therapy, have also proven effective.

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