Seborrheic dermatitis: Signs and symptoms

Seborrheic dermatitis: Signs and symptoms

Bookmark and Share

The signs and symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis vary with age. The following describes how it affects people at different ages.

Adults and adolescents

Seborrheic dermatitis causes:

  • Scaly patches on the skin.
  • The skin beneath these patches is reddish.
  • Although scaly, patches often look greasy or moist.
  • Scales can flake off and tend to be yellowish to white.

In adults and adolescents, the skin can:

  • Itch, especially on the scalp and in the ear canal.
  • Burn.

Patches form where the skin is oily:

  • Scalp.
  • Ears (around and in the ear canal).
  • Eyebrows (the skin beneath).
  • Center of the face.
  • Eyelids.
  • Upper chest.
  • Upper back.
  • Armpits.
  • Genitals.

Patches form where the skin is oily, such as on the scalp, face, and in the ear canals.

Infants

When an infant gets seborrheic dermatitis, it tends to form on the scalp and is known as cradle cap. Signs and symptoms of cradle cap include:

  • Yellow, greasy scale on the scalp.
  • A thick layer of scale can cover the entire scalp.
  • Scale is often yellow to brownish in color.
  • With time, the scale becomes flaky and easily rubs off.

In infants, seborrheic dermatitis also can form on the face, usually on a baby’s eyelids, around the nose, or ears. It also forms in the diaper area. In a few babies, seborrheic dermatitis covers most of the body.

Most infants seem unbothered by seborrheic dermatitis. Cradle cap sometimes itches.

Learn more about seborrheic dermatitis:

References:

Habif TP, Campbell JL, et al. “Seborrheic dermatitis.” In: Dermatology DDxDeck.China, Mosby Elsevier: 2006, p. 40.

Plewig G Jansen T. “Seborrheic Dermatitis.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, Katz SI, et al. editors. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine, 7th ed. United States of America, McGraw Hill Medical; 2008. p.219-25.

Images used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.