Seborrhea is an inflammatory condition caused by excessive discharge from the sebaceous glands, which causes oily, red and scaly skin. Seborrhea is most common on the T-zone of the face (including forehead, eyebrows, and the sides of the nose), as well as the hair line and scalp.
Seborrhea is most common in adults aged 30 to 60, but can also affect adolescents, as well as infants under the age of one. Severe seborrhea affects 3-5% of the population while mild seborrhea affects 15-20%, in the form of non-inflammatory dandruff or redness of the face or scalp.
In the early stages, the flaky skin has a similar appearance to dandruff, although the flakes can also appear yellow or gray in color. More severe cases show thick, scaly, yellow patches of skin in affected areas. The rash is itchy and can also be sore, especially as the patient scratches the affected areas. On the scalp, seborrhea can cause hair loss.
The precise cause of seborrhea is not known, although it is believed that the yeast malassezia plays a major role. This yeast naturally occurs in the skin, yet produces toxic substances that can irritate and inflame the skin if there is an inbuilt sensitivity.
Treatment for seborrhea usually involves a multi-faceted approach that targets the varying causes of the condition. Maintaining the cleanliness of the scalp is mandatory for sufferers of seborrheic dermatitis and therefore topical treatments such as shampoos, cleansers or creams/lotions that contain antifungal, anti-inflammatory or sebo-suppressive properties are recommended. Hair creams may also be used to treat hair loss caused by seborrheic dermatitis