Dermatitis (Seborrhoeic Eczema)

Infant with dermatitisSeborrhoeic eczema or dermatitis is a widespread, common form of eczema that can occur at any age. It is caused by inflammation of the oil producing sebaceous glands in the skin, but the cause of the inflammation is unknown.

In infants, seborrhoeic eczema frequently affects the scalp to cause cradle cap or the buttocks to cause nappy eczema. Other frequently affected areas are the cheeks, neck, armpits, groin and folds behind the knees and elbows and under the breasts. In adults, it is responsible for some forms of dandruff. On the scalp, it appears as a red, scaly, greasy rash. In skin folds, the skin is red, moist and breaks down into tiny ulcers. On exposed areas such as the face, the rash is red, scaling and may contain tiny blisters.

The scalp is treated with a lotion or cream to remove the oil and scale, and regular shampooing. Tar solutions are applied in resistant cases. In other areas, mild steroid lotions or creams are used. Soap should be avoided and substitutes used.

A complication may be the development of a secondary fungal infection.

Seborrhoeic eczema tends to be chronic and recurrent. Children often grow out of it in the early teens, but in adults it may persist intermittently for years.

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