Seborrheic dermatitis causes greasy, yellow or dandruff-like flakes on a child’s scalp. This disease is very common in young children and is easy to treat. Seborrheic dermatitis is not a symptom of a disease or of poor hygiene.
What are the signs and symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis in children?
The common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis in children are:
- Thick patches or scales on the scalp
- Dry or oily scalp covered with patches of white and yellow dandruff.
- Flaky skin
- May be red.
Similar scales can be found in the ears, eyebrows, nose, and groin area.
Seborrheic dermatitis is common in infants and usually does not cause itching. Seborrheic dermatitis is a common term for seborrheic dermatitis in infants. It is sometimes mistaken for other skin conditions such as neonatal eczema. The main difference between the two is that eczema is very itchy.
Your child may experience other symptoms not mentioned. If you have any questions about symptoms, consult your doctor.
When do you need to see a doctor?
You should take your child to the doctor if one of the following situations:
- You have tried many treatments without success
- Dandruff patches spread to the child’s face and body
The cause to the illness
What causes seborrheic dermatitis?
The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown. One factor contributing to this disease may be due to hormones passed from mother to baby before birth. These hormones can increase oil (sebum) production in the oil glands and hair follicles.
Another factor may be due to a yeast called malassezia growing in the sebum along with bacteria. Antifungal drugs like ketoconazole are often effective, suggesting that yeast is a contributing factor.
Seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious and is not caused by poor hygiene.
The risk of getting caught
What is the prevalence of seborrheic dermatitis in a newborn?
Seborrheic dermatitis is extremely common in children. It usually appears in the first two months after birth and resolves on its own within a few weeks or months. Please discuss with your doctor for more information
What factors increase the risk of seborrheic dermatitis in children?
There are many factors that increase your risk of getting this disease, such as:
- Excess sebum production by the oil glands in the scalp
- Bacteria and fungi (a yeast called malassezia) grow in the sebum
- Hormones passed from mother to baby before birth stimulate oil glands in the baby
- Intolerance to certain foods (e.g. gluten, dairy products), common allergies, or changes in the air that can lead to irritation and seborrheic dermatitis.
- A family history of skin allergies, such as eczema, may increase a child’s risk of seborrheic dermatitis. This form of infant dermatitis can increase the likelihood of developing other types of seborrheic dermatitis (such as dandruff) as adults.
The information provided is not a substitute for the advice of a healthcare professional. Always consult your doctor.
What medical techniques are used to diagnose seborrheic dermatitis in children?
The diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis is completely based on clinical symptoms. Characteristics of the disease are white or yellow dandruff patches on the scalp of infants that are not itchy. Do not cause pus or oozing – unless superinfected. Seborrheic dermatitis in children mainly occurs on the scalp, although it can sometimes be found in the face, neck, ears, or skin folds. The skin may become red under the scabs. Sometimes there is hair loss with flaking, but it always returns. Children are usually healthy and develop normally.
If seborrheic dermatitis becomes superinfected, the surrounding skin becomes swollen and red (signs of an inflammatory reaction).
Blisters or pustules may form, with discharge of pus that can be seen near scaly areas.
What methods are used to treat seborrheic dermatitis in children?
Seborrheic dermatitis in children usually does not require medical treatment. It should go away on its own within a few months. In the meantime, wash your hair once a day with baby shampoo and gently brush your skin with a soft brush to slowly flake off the flakes.
If regular shampooing doesn’t work, ask your doctor. Your doctor may recommend an adult shampoo, for example one that contains 2% of the antifungal ketoconazole. Make sure the shampoo doesn’t get into your baby’s eyes, as it can cause irritation. Hydrocortisone cream is sometimes needed to help reduce inflammation and redness.
Do not use cortisone creams or antifungal creams without first discussing them with your doctor. As some of these products can be toxic when absorbed through the child’s skin. Dandruff shampoos containing salicylic acid are not recommended for infants as they can be absorbed through the skin.
Suitable living regime
Which living habits help you limit the progression of seborrheic dermatitis in your child?
You should be able to control the disease if you take the following measures:
- Gently rub the baby’s scalp with fingers or a cloth to gently flake off the scales, not rubbing it hard.
- Wash your baby’s hair once a day with baby shampoo. Slightly flake off with a soft bristled brush before rinsing the shampoo.
- If the flakes don’t come off easily, rub cooking oil or a few drops of mineral oil on your child’s scalp. Let the flakes soak in the oil for several minutes, or for several hours if necessary. After that, brush and wash your baby’s hair as usual. If you don’t wash off the oil in your baby’s hair, seborrheic dermatitis may get worse.
- Once the flakes are gone, wash your baby’s hair every few days with shampoo to prevent flakes
If you have any questions, consult your doctor for advice on the best treatment support method.