Seborrheic dermatitis  is a chronic inflammatory skin disease that frequently develops on the scalp and causes dandruff, itching and skin lesions, among other things. There are currently no curative treatments for seborrheic dermatitis, but it’s possible to effectively manage its outbreaks.

Femme souffrant de dermatite séborrhéique

What is the treatment’s objective?

The treatment of seborrheic dermatitis has a triple purpose:
  • reduce the amount of malassezia yeast on the scalp
  • reduce the inflammation of the scalp
  • control the excessive secretion of sebum

Which medications are recommended for seborrheic dermatitis?

Doctors generally prescribe several types of medication for seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp, each of which works on different aspects of the disease:
  • antifungals: antifungals help reduce the number of malassezia yeast on the scalp. Imidazoles in a foaming gel (such as ketoconazole) or ciclopiroxolamine in a shampoo are among the most frequently prescribed antifungals. In the first phase of the treatment, two applications per week are recommended; then, in the maintenance phase, once a week, then once every two weeks until the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis disappear.
  • lithium salt: the doctor can prescribe lithium gluconate as an additional treatment when the inflammation is not too severe.
  • dermocorticoids: dermocorticoids are prescribed in case of highly inflamed lesions. Although they can quickly relieve the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, one should be careful because they can also increase the risk of a severe relapse and cause a number of side effects (skin atrophy, depigmentation, acne). This is why the use of dermocorticoids should always be limited to a short period and to the most important lesions.
  • Specific shampoos: shampoos containing pyrithione zinc, piroctone olamine, selenium sulfide or salicylic acid are recommended. These have an effective antifungal, antiproliferative and anti-inflammatory effect. They can be used as the main treatment in the case of a mild flare-up, but in the case of a serious flare-up, they should be used as an additional treatment.

General advice for the treatment

You should follow a number of basic guidelines to ensure the treatment is as effective as possible:
  • do not scratch the lesions, even if they itch
  • wash your hands before and after each application
  • respect the application time of shampoos and foaming gels
  • use a shampoo for frequent washing, which reduces seborrhea without damaging the scalp