The chronic inflammatory skin condition known as “seborrheic dermatitis” creates a red, oily rash with white flaky scales in areas where sebaceous (oil-producing) glands are most abundant. These areas include the scalp, forehead, eyebrows, nose creases, behind the ears, under the arms, around the groin, and other skin folds. The problem develops largely due to sensitivity to a particular yeast on the skin, which may have its basis in genetics or a hormonal component. Emotional stress, medication, humidity, and changes in season may trigger flare-ups, which also may produce itching and burning. While there is no cure, “seborrhea” (as the condition is also known) can be managed with over-the-counter cortisone creams or prescription anti-fungal medications and higher-strength prescription cortisone creams.

Seborrheic dermatitis doesn’t affect your overall health, but it can be uncomfortable and cause embarrassment when it develops on visible parts of your body. It isn’t contagious, and it’s not a sign of poor personal hygiene. Seborrheic dermatitis tends to recur, but a combination of self-care steps and medications can help. If you experience the symptoms described in this week’s column, please call ELMHURST DERMATOLOGY at 630-832-2111 to schedule a consultation. Our office is located at 103 N. Haven, Suite 7, Elmhurst. We strive to provide the highest quality care to our patients.


Todd T. Davis, M.D.
Board Certified Dermatologist

P.S. In some cases, seborrheic dermatitis may be treated with immunosuppressant drugs (such as tacrolimus or pimecrolimus).