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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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Stephens, Mark B., et al., editors. "Dermatitis, Seborrheic." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116177/all/Dermatitis__Seborrheic.
Dermatitis, Seborrheic. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 27th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116177/all/Dermatitis__Seborrheic. Accessed April 24, 2019.
Dermatitis, Seborrheic. (2019). In Stephens, M. B., Golding, J., Baldor, R. A., & Domino, F. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116177/all/Dermatitis__Seborrheic
Dermatitis, Seborrheic [Internet]. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, Domino FJ, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 April 24]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116177/all/Dermatitis__Seborrheic.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Dermatitis, Seborrheic ID - 116177 ED - Stephens,Mark B, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/116177/all/Dermatitis__Seborrheic PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -