Dermatitis, Seborrheic

Dermatitis, Seborrheic is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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Chronic, superficial, recurrent inflammatory rash affecting sebum-rich, hairy regions of the body, especially the scalp, eyebrows, and face


  • Predominant age: infancy, adolescence, and adulthood
  • Predominant sex: male > female

Seborrheic dermatitis: 3–5%

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • Skin surface yeasts Malassezia may be a contributing factor (1).
  • Genetic and environmental factors: Flares are common with stress/illness.
  • Parallels increased sebaceous gland activity in infancy and adolescence or as a result of some acnegenic drugs.
  • Seborrheic dermatitis is more common in immunosuppressed patients, suggesting that immune mechanisms are implicated in the pathogenesis of the disease, although the mechanisms are not well defined (1).

Positive family history; no genetic marker is identified to date.

Risk Factors

  • Parkinson disease, epilepsy, traumatic brain and spinal cord injury, Down syndrome (1)
  • AIDS, lymphoma, organ transplantation (1)
  • Emotional stress (1)
  • Medications may flare/induce seborrheic dermatitis: buspirone, chlorpromazine, ethionamide, griseofulvin, haloperidol, interferon-α, methyldopa, psoralen, IL-2 (1)

General Prevention

Seborrheic skin should be washed more often than usual.

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Parkinson disease
  • AIDS

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