Seborrhea is characterized by oily skin, hair and scalp, and is caused by an overproduction of sebum (skin oil). The hair and scalp feel oily and greasy, but patients with seborrhea will not experience the inflammation, scaling, and itching associated with Seborrhoeic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a more severe condition, and patients should seek a dermatologist or another experienced physician for diagnosis and treatment.
Surprisingly, "Seborrhea" means too much oil, not skin dryness. It appears in sebum-rich areas of the body, including scalp, redness on the face or in the armpits, or raw, red patches below the breasts. The skin may feel dry or may feel to patients; sometimes it may feel oily and dry at the same time. With no known cause, it is a skin inflammation affecting the rate of production of skin cells, and results from neither an excess of oil nor a lack of moisture. It can occur at any time, regardless of age, and may flare up and go away at random.
Signs and Symptoms of Seborrhoeic Dermatitis
Characterized by excessive oiliness of scalp and hair with intense itching, patients with Seborrheic dermatitis will develop red, inflamed scalp skin covered with greasy, yellowish scales that grow into crusts. In severe cases, it can look very similar to psoriasis, and can overlap in sebopsoriasis. Also, in severe cases, the eyebrows, cheeks, and nose folds will be come affected. Unfortunately, itching the lesions will only make the inflammation worse by allowing bacteria, yeast and fungi to move in the scratched area.
Causes of Seborrhoeic Dermatitis
Although occurring randomly, the first 3 months of life (cradle cap) and between ages 30 to 70 years are the two periods of life which show the highest rates of occurrence. The production of Sebum is triggered by DHT circulating throughout the body. DHT is the activated testosterone metabolite, and production begins at puberty. Normal skin yeast, or Pityrosporum ovale, feed off of Sebum, producing the enzyme lipase, which turns sebum into FFA (Free fatty acids). It is these FFAs that irritate and cause inflammation in the skin, causing itching. Flaking is caused by proliferating cells building up on the skin.
The random flare-ups characterizing this condition are annoying for patients, but do have clear causes. Some triggers of seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups include changes in season, infections, stress, and hormonal variations. Here’s why:
- Seasonal Changes - The lack of UV light during the winter months causes flare ups. The suns rays help to slow down cellular turnover, which is beneficial to the condition. In addition, the cold dehydrates the skin which can make the appearance of the flaking worse.
- Infections and Sickness - Infections (viral and bacterial) may trigger an episode of seborrhea, as they affect the immune system. The flare up is the body’s reaction to the infection.
- Stress - A surge in stress levels causes high levels of DHT circulating in the body, and triggers an increase in sebum production which can irritate the skin and give yeast more to feed upon.
- Hormonal Swings - Just prior to the menstrual cycle begins and during pregnancy, Progesterone levels are high. This also triggers high levels of DHT, which stimulates the production of sebum and may trigger a flare of seborrhea.
Treatment for Seborrhoeic Dermatitis
Although there is no cure, seborrheic dermatitis responds to treatment and can usually be cleared up with prescribed treatments. Because the condition is not caused by skin dryness, moisturizing the affected areas will not treat the problem, and may actually make it worse.
Treatment usually aims to fight the inflammation of the skin directly, using cortisone (an inflammation-reducer) creams or lotions. Although not a type of yeast infection, the build-up of yeast on the scaly areas exacerbates the problem, and some treatments seek to reduce the yeast build-up. Typical treatments include shampoos with a physician-recommended product, and other types of treatment depend upon severity.
Natural Psoriasis Treatments
The Dead Sea and Psoriasis Treatments
Home Psoriasis Treatments