Understanding Seborrheic Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatments

Understanding Seborrheic Dermatitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Effective Treatments
Published on, 04 June, 2024. Answered by Dr. Anna Chacon and Verified by Dr.Galen Team
Patient Question

Hello Doctor,

I've been noticing white flakes coming from my scalp, and it's been quite itchy. What could be causing this?

Answered by Dr. Anna Chacon


Thank you for reaching out to Dr. Galen. Please find the below response to your query.

From your description, it appears that you may be experiencing a common dermatological issue known as seborrheic dermatitis, colloquially referred to as dandruff. This condition often manifests as flaking of the scalp accompanied by itching sensations. While the precise etiology of seborrheic dermatitis remains elusive, it is believed to stem from factors such as an overgrowth of certain yeast species that naturally inhabit the skin, or an aberrant immune response to these microorganisms. Allow me to elucidate some potential avenues for managing your symptoms effectively: Medicated Shampoos: Over-the-counter shampoos containing active ingredients like zinc pyrithione, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, or salicylic acid have demonstrated efficacy in controlling seborrheic dermatitis by targeting the underlying causes. Topical Steroids: In instances of severe or recalcitrant cases, the implementation of prescription-strength topical steroids may be warranted to mitigate inflammation and alleviate symptoms. Antifungal Treatments: Certain cases of seborrheic dermatitis may benefit from adjunctive antifungal therapies, which can be administered orally or topically under the guidance of a healthcare professional. Scalp Treatments: Adopting a regimen of regular scalp massages using lukewarm coconut or olive oil can serve to moisturize the scalp and facilitate the removal of flakes, thereby fostering a conducive environment for scalp health. It is imperative to underscore the importance of refraining from scratching the scalp, notwithstanding the itchiness, as this behavior can exacerbate inflammation and predispose the area to secondary infections. Should your symptoms persist despite conscientious implementation of over-the-counter interventions, or if they engender significant discomfort, I strongly advocate seeking medical evaluation from a qualified healthcare provider. A comprehensive examination can facilitate accurate diagnosis and bespoke treatment stratagems tailored to your unique circumstances. Please bear in mind that the counsel provided herein is intended to furnish general guidance and may not be universally applicable to all cases. Accordingly, I urge you to exercise prudence and seek personalized medical advice for optimal management of your condition. Thank you for entrusting us with your health concerns. Should you have any further inquiries or require additional assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. Warm regards,

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