Seborrheic eczema is a prevalent form of the skin condition that typically affects all age groups from young adults to the elderly. Most of the areas that are affected such as the armpits and groin has a higher concentration of sweat glands. This type is often seen among infants during the first year of life.
Characteristics of seborrheic eczema
There are 4 usual patterns that are often seen when it comes to seborrheic eczema.
- Scalp and face – the skin appears reddened, greasy and scaly. The central face, forehead, sides of the nose up to the outer corners of the mouth, eyebrows, edges of the scalp and behind the ears are usually affected. The scalp is widely scaly in appearance (dandruff).
- Front of the chest – there is a reddened, scaly patch over the breast bone
- Back of the trunk – there are several reddened, elevated dots all over the back part of the shoulder blades
- Skin folds – there is a damp, reddened skin reaction under the breasts, groin and armpits. Among children, the folds of skin are usually involved but there might be a yellow-tinged, scaly coating on the scalp as well (cradle cap).
Remember that seborrheic eczema tends to vary in terms of severity. A minor case might only cause minor dandruff and flaky skin over the face.
As for severe cases, the skin is widely affected and intensely itchy. As for the scalp, it also becomes itchy, oily and even inflamed with extensive scaling of the scalp.
What are the possible causes?
Heightened sensitivity to a certain yeast, specifically Pityrosporum which is an organism that thrives in the skin. It is believed to play a role in the development of seborrheic eczema. In such instances, an anti-yeast treatment might be effective yet it requires repeated and regular use on a long-term scale.
Abrupt onset of severe eczema among adults might be linked with HIV infection and testing for this is usually considered.
There are medicated shampoos that contain yeast medication that can be used to keep its activity under control. If there is extensive scaling of the scalp, additional treatment might be used such as salicylic acid cream or sulfur that is followed by a selenium-based shampoo or coal tar-based concoctions.
Face, trunk and skin folds
A combination of anti-fungal cream and a mild steroid is the usual routine when managing flare-ups. This is utilized for about 2 weeks at a time. It is also recommended to wash the face and body at least 2 times in a week in a shower using the suitable medicated shampoos to prevent relapse.
The core treatments used for infants include emollient creams but mild steroid and/or anti-fungal creams might be needed as well.
If cradle cap is the issue, it can be relaxed with a combination of salicylic acid in an aqueous cream that is later on washed off using baby shampoo. Certain oils such as olive has long been used as a remedy for managing cradle cap.