DESCRIPTIONSeborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition characterized by greasy or dry white scales. Dandruff and cradle cap are both forms of seborrheic dermatitis. This is not contagious. The skin of the scalp, eyebrows, forehead, face, and folds around the nose is involved; also the skin behind the ears, the external ear canal, and the skin of the trunk, especially over the breastbone (sternum) or in skin folds.
Appropriate health care includes:
Self-care after diagnosis.
Physician's monitoring of general condition and medications.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS
Flaking white scales over reddish patches on your child's skin. Scales anchor to hair shafts. They may itch, but they are usually painless unless complicated by infection.
Hot, humid weather or cold, dry weather.
Other skin disorders, such as acne rosacea, acne vulgaris, or psoriasis.
Use of drying lotions that contain alcohol.
PREVENTING COMPLICATIONS OR RECURRENCECannot be prevented. To minimize severity or frequency of flare-ups, your child should:
Dry skin folds thoroughly after bathing.
Wear loose, ventilating clothing.
Your own observation of symptoms.
Medical history and physical exam by a doctor.
Embarrassment and social discomfort.
Secondary bacterial infection in affected areas.
This is a chronic condition, but it is often characterized by long periods of inactivity. During active phases, your child's symptoms can be controlled with treatment.
HOME CAREYou or your child should shampoo the child's hair vigorously and as often as once a day. The shampoo you use is not as important as the way you scrub the scalp. Loosen scales with the fingernails while shampooing, and scrub at least 5 minutes.
MEDICATIONFor minor dandruff, use non-prescription dandruff shampoos and lubricating skin lotion.
For severe problems, your doctor may prescribe:
-- Shampoos that contain coal tar, or scalp creams that contain cortisone. To apply medication to the scalp, the hair should be parted a few strands at a time and the ointment or lotion rubbed vigorously into the scalp.
-- Topical steroids for other affected parts.
See Medications section for information regarding medicines your doctor may prescribe.
No restrictions. Outdoor activities in summer may help.
DIET & FLUIDS
No special diet. Your child should avoid foods that seem to worsen the condition.
OK TO GO TO SCHOOL?Yes.
CALL YOUR DOCTOR IF
Your child has symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis that don't respond to self-care.
Patches of seborrheic dermatitis ooze, form crusts, or drain pus.