Seborrheic Dermatitis

A common condition known as ‘cradle cap’ can affect people of any age.

Seborrheic dermatitis, commonly known as cradle cap, affects the skin of the scalp, face, chest, back, and other oily areas of the body. The condition tends to flare up during fall and winter, when the air is dry and cold. Stress also can cause symptoms to appear in some people.

Though cradle cap can be unsightly and annoying, the condition is harmless and isn’t contagious. 

Symptoms and treatments for babies

In infants, scaly skin and crusting most commonly affects the scalp, face, chest, neck, and skinfold areas. The affected skin areas will look red and will have yellowish scales. 

Our pediatric skin care doctors may recommend one or more of these treatment options to ease your baby’s cradle cap: 

  • A drying agent to treat the baby’s skinfolds
  • Low-strength topical corticosteroids
  • Tar compounds
  • Topical ketoconazole creams

Symptoms and treatments for adults

In adults, the affected skin areas will develop red, greasy skin lesions covered with white or yellow scales. These lesions typically appear on the scalp, face, eyebrows, nose, ears, chest, and back.

Your doctor may recommend one or more of these treatment options:

  • Low-strength topical corticosteroids
  • Shampoos with selenium sulfide, imidazoles, zinc, pyrithrion, ketoconazole, or salicylic acid
  • Topical ketoconazole cream 
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