Medicated shampoos, creams and lotions are the main treatments for seborrheic dermatitis. Your doctor will likely recommend you try home remedies, such as over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, before considering prescription remedies. If home remedies haven't helped, talk with your doctor about trying these treatments:
May 30, 2014
- Creams, shampoos or ointments that control inflammation. Prescription-strength hydrocortisone, fluocinolone or desonide (Desowen, Desonide) are corticosteroids you apply to the scalp or other affected area. They're effective and easy to use. But if used for many weeks or months without a break, they can cause side effects, such as thinning skin or skin showing streaks or lines.
- Antifungal shampoo alternated with a stronger medication. Ketoconazole shampoo may be effective when alternated with a clobetasol scalp product (Temovate) twice weekly.
- Antifungal medication you take as a pill. Your doctor may recommend the antifungal medication terbinafine (Lamisil). This option is not often used because it can have serious side effects, such as allergic reactions and liver problems.
- Medications that affect your immune system. Creams or lotions containing the calcineurin inhibitors tacrolimus (Protopic) and pimecrolimus (Elidel) may be effective and have fewer side effects than corticosteroids do. But they are not first-choice treatments because of a potential increased risk of cancer. In addition, they cost more than mild corticosteroid medications.
- Cream or gel that fights bacteria. You apply metronidazole (Metrolotion, Metrogel) as a cream or gel once or twice daily until you see improvement.
- Light therapy with medication. This treatment combines psoralen with light therapy (photochemotherapy). After you take psoralen by mouth or apply it to the affected skin, you're exposed to ultraviolet light. This therapy may not work for people with thick hair.
- Papadakis MA, ed., et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2014. 53rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=330. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=56050969. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Sasseville D, et al. Seborrheic dermatitis in adolescents and adults. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Sasseville D, et al. Cradle cap and seborrheic dermatitis in infants. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Ferri FF. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2014: 5 Books in 1. Philadelphia, Pa.: Mosby Elsevier; 2014. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Lebwohl MG, et al. Treatment of Skin Disease: Comprehensive Therapeutic Strategies. 4th ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2014. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Pizzorno JE, et al. Textbook of Natural Medicine. 4th ed. St. Louis, Mo.: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier; 2013. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Ramos-e-Silva M, et al. Red face revisited: Endogenous dermatitis in the form of atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis. Clinics in Dermatology. 2014;32:109.
- Efficacious and safe management of moderate to severe seborrheic dermatitis using clobetasol propionate shampoo 0.05% combined with ketonazole shampoo 2%. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2012;66(suppl 1):AB50.
- Kim GK, et al. Topical pimecrolimus 1% cream in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2013;6:29.
- AskMayoExpert. Seborrheic dermatitis (adult and pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Public health advisory: Elidel (pimecrolimus) cream and Protopic (tacrolimus) cream. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/PublicHealthAdvisories/UCM051760. Accessed Jan. 22, 2014.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 6, 2014.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Feb. 6, 2014.
- Dessinioti C, et al. Seborrheic dermatitis: Etiology, risk factors and treatments: Facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology. 2013;31:343.
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