Seborrheic Dermatitis (cont.)

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What is the treatment for seborrheic dermatitis?

Treatment of hair-bearing areas, like the scalp, often includes the use of a shampoo that may contain one or more of the following ingredients:

  • tar
  • antifungal antibiotic
  • zinc pyrithione
  • selenium sulfide

In addition, the application of a topical steroid lotion or solution of weak to moderate potency is popular.

For non-hair-bearing areas, the application of a weak to moderately potent topical steroid or topical antifungal cream is frequently effective. The use of tacrolimus (Protopic) or pimecrolimus (Elidel) ointments can be effective but is quite an expensive alternative.

It needs to be stressed that since this condition is incurable but easily controllable, if the disease is active and the treatment is stopped, one should expect the seborrheic dermatitis to recur. One should also use effective medications just enough to control the symptoms. Excessive treatment of apparently normal skin is economically wasteful as well as potentially dangerous.

What are complications of seborrheic dermatitis?

There are few direct complications attributable to this condition. Most problems seem to be related to misdiagnosis or mistreatment. Rarely, certain cutaneous fungal infections of the face and scalp can resemble seborrheic dermatitis. Treatment of errors of this sort with anti-inflammatory medications (topical steroids) can encourage the growth of fungi and the spread of the infection. The overuse of potent topical steroids in an ill-conceived attempt to cure this condition, especially on the face and armpits, can result in many undesirable skin changes.


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