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Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis is a topic covered in the Select 5-Minute Pediatrics Topics.

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  • Seborrheic dermatitis (SD) is a multifactorial skin disease influenced by both host and environmental factors.
  • Involves sebaceous areas of the body
    • Including the scalp, face, back, chest, and intertriginous areas
    • Characterized by greasy, yellow, scaly erythematous lesions
  • Usually a self-limited condition in infants but can be a chronic, relapsing condition in adolescents and adults


  • Trimodal distribution: infants, adolescents, and adults >50 years of age
  • Highest prevalence in first 3 months of life
  • Affects approximately 10% of the general population and up to 70% of infants in the first 3 months of life
  • No sex predilection in infants; however, in adolescents and adults, males are affected more commonly than females.
  • Seasonal pattern: Prevalence of disease increases in winter months.
  • Strong association between Malassezia species, a common commensal organism, and SD

Risk Factors

  • There are no known genetic factors that contribute to disease.
  • Hormonal effects: exposure to maternal estrogen in infancy and surge of androgens in puberty
  • Immunocompromised status
    • Impaired cellular immunity may contribute to pathogenesis of disease.
    • Prevalence of SD in immunocompromised patients is significantly higher than in general population.

General Prevention

There are no known preventive measures.


  • Androgens stimulate sebaceous glands, causing production of more sebum.
  • Malassezia
    • A lipophilic yeast that is normally found in sebum-rich areas of the skin
    • Can break down skin sebum lipids, producing potentially inflammatory fatty acids
  • In response to the inflammatory fatty acids, keratinocytes produce proinflammatory cytokines.


Not completely known, although it was thought that yeast, androgens, and the local host immune response play a role in SD development.

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Cabana, Michael D., editor. "Seborrheic Dermatitis." Select 5-Minute Pediatrics Topics, 7th ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2015. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/Select-5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/14168/all/Seborrheic_Dermatitis.
Seborrheic Dermatitis. In: Cabana MD, ed. Select 5-Minute Pediatrics Topics. 7th ed. Wolters Kluwer Health; 2015. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/Select-5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/14168/all/Seborrheic_Dermatitis. Accessed April 25, 2019.
Seborrheic Dermatitis. (2015). In Cabana, M. D. (Ed.), Select 5-Minute Pediatrics Topics. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/Select-5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/14168/all/Seborrheic_Dermatitis
Seborrheic Dermatitis [Internet]. In: Cabana MD, editors. Select 5-Minute Pediatrics Topics. Wolters Kluwer Health; 2015. [cited 2019 April 25]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/Select-5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/14168/all/Seborrheic_Dermatitis.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Seborrheic Dermatitis ID - 14168 ED - Cabana,Michael D, BT - Select 5-Minute Pediatrics Topics UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/Select-5-Minute-Pediatric-Consult/14168/all/Seborrheic_Dermatitis PB - Wolters Kluwer Health ET - 7 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -