Seborrheic Dermatitis

In my dermatology practice I see a lot of patients who think their scaly, red skin is “dry skin”, but it is actually dandruff. Dandruff, or seborrheic dermatitis, is so common that almost everyone will suffer from it at some point in their lifetime. Some of its possible forms are:

  • Red, greasy, scaly skin in the nose crease or between the eyebrows in teens
  • ‘Dry’ and itchy scalp starting in the teen years and going on throughout life
  • ‘Dry’, red, scaly skin in the T-zone of the face at any time in life
  • Crusty skin on, in, and behind the ears
  • Flaking of the eyebrows
  • Crusty scale and itching of the eyelashes (blepharitis), especially in the morning when you wake from sleep
  • Greasy, red scaly skin on the chest and upper back

The good news is that with the right complete skin care routine using over-the-counter products, you can control your seborrhea to keep your skin and scalp healthy and attractive (instead of red and scaly). Here are the important points in building your skin care routine to treat seborrheic dermatitis:

  1. Don’t use harsh products on actively inflamed seborrhea or you will add irritation on top of the seborrhea – and irritation looks red and scaly! This applies to cleansers, acne products, anti-aging products, exfoliating products, and sunscreens.
  2. Medicated cleansers and shampoos are really helpful for seborrhea, so pick the right cleanser for the skin area you are treating. Pyrithione zinc is my favorite medicated cleanser and shampoo ingredient. Other ingredients for non-facial areas include shampoos with salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, tar, ketoconazole, and prescription ciclopirox.
  3. Over my 30 years of practicing dermatology, I’ve found pharmaceutical-grade green tea creams to be the most important skin care product along with medicated pyrithione zinc. I use these as the cornerstone of any skin care routine I build to treat seborrhea.
  4. For thick crusty scale, pre-treating skin with oil for 30 minutes before cleansing or shampooing really helps. Use coconut oil, mineral oil, olive oil, or any other oil. Wet the skin, towel dry, apply the oil, then wait 30 minutes or more. Shampoo or cleanse off the oil and as a last lather, use your medicated shampoo or soap.
  5. Always moisturize non-scalp areas of seborrhea to help the skin heal. Dry skin heals more slowly.
  6. Apply facial sunscreen daily if you have seborrhea because, as with most rashes, the barrier of the skin is compromised and sun may pass through to cause damage more easily. Use non-irritating mineral zinc oxide sunscreens matched to your skin type.
  7. For stubborn seborrhea, I use clotrimazole cream twice a day until the rash is clear plus a month or so. One-percent hydrocortisone cream on top of the clotrimazole is helpful if the rash won’t budge, but this medicine has side effects that include skin thinning of the application site and, if applied near the eyes, can cause eye damage. It should only be used under a doctor’s supervision.

My favorite products to create a complete skin care routine to control seborrhea are:

Cleanse: Calming Zinc Soap for facial seborrhea. It can be used on the trunk and ears, too. For hairy areas like the scalp, I use Foaming Zinc. A Buf Puf, Salux Cloth, or the Clarisonic system can help to remove scale. Gentle exfoliation with a rough scrub can work as well. It is important not to be too rough with exfoliation, as the skin barrier of actively inflamed seborrhea is compromised and the skin is easily irritated. When non-medicated cleanser is used it needs to be gentle. Some complexions may find medicated pyrithione zinc is drying and if so, I have patients alternate the medicated product with a gentle non-medicated product to cleanse affected skin.

Correct: I have my patients apply my Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy to facial seborrhea. Acne-prone skin may need an oil-free alternative and Replenix CF Cream works well. If the rash is flaring up, I have my patients apply clotrimazole cream to the area of involvement. Clotrimazole can be applied to ear and trunk involvement, too. The cream base makes it impractical for hairy areas like the scalp.

Hydrate: I have patients apply one of my Daily Face Creams or All Natural Body Butter or All Natural Lotion to involved non-hairy skin.

Protect: I recommend one of my mineral zinc sunscreens be applied daily. Pick a sunscreen based on your skin type.

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  1. SunSavvy Kit, Ultimate Protection  1015

    SunSavvy Kit, Ultimate Protection

    The Ultimate Sun Protection Kit provides everything you'll need to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.

    $52.50
  2. Raw Elements SPF 30 Sunscreen Eco Stick  1078

    Raw Elements SPF 30 Sunscreen Eco Stick

    At last, the best mineral zinc oxide sunscreen product proven not to run into and sting your eyes - even when you're wet!
    $16.00
  3. Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30+ Sunscreen  1128

    Raw Elements Eco Formula SPF 30+ Sunscreen

    The best all natural, UVA-UVB broad spectrum, high performance sun screen for your 'wet and sweaty activities'.
    $19.00
  4. Clarisonic Brush Replacement Heads  1219

    Clarisonic Brush Replacement Heads

    Get the most out of your Clarisonic Cleansing System by keeping your Clarisonic Brushes in top shape.  Clarisonic recommends that you replace your brush head every 3 months to get the best results from your beloved Clarisonic Skin Cleansing System. Pick the right brush for your skin type to fully customize how the system works for you.

    $25.00
  5. Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+™  1207

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+™

    At last, an ultra-light sunscreen spray that’s pure mineral protection with micro (not nano) zinc oxide for the best anti-aging broad spectrum protection. 

    $38.00
  6. Glycolix Elite SPF 30 Sunscreen  1016

    Glycolix Elite SPF 30 Sunscreen

    This is the ultimate in 'nonchemical', mineral, physical sun protection. It is perfect for people with extremely sensitive skin.

    $25.50
  7. Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40  1017

    Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40

    My favorite every day sunscreen! I wear it every day on my face, neck and chest! It gives a great matte finish that's SPF 40 and water resistant for up to 80 minutes.

    $25.00
  8. EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40  1126

    EltaMD UV Daily SPF 40

    Broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection in a lovely moisturizing lotion that's sheer and elegant of the skin.
    $24.00
  9. Suntegrity Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30  1127

    Suntegrity Baby Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

    Non-greasy natural non-nano zinc oxide mineral sunscreen for every day sun protection. This is a lovely natural mineral sunscreen made with organic ingredients - and it's not just for babies!

    $24.00
  10. MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme SPF 30 Broad Spectrum  1157

    MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme SPF 30 Broad Spectrum

    Luxurious, Broad Spectrum Sunscreen with a Silky "Barely There" Finish.
    $32.00
  11. Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream, 4 oz.  1085

    Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream, 4 oz.

    Dermatologist recommended skin cream for sensitive skin. One of the best skin care products to heal dry skin for people with eczema or skin allergies.
    $8.00
  12. Facial Redness Relief Kit - with Resveratrol™  1069

    Facial Redness Relief Kit - with Resveratrol™

    This is the same magical ingredient combination as my Facial Redness Relief Kit - Oil Free but now with the newest Green Tea Skin Therapy Cream containing resveratrol, the powerful grape antioxidant, in a paraben-free cream base.

    $80.00
  13. Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen, SPF 50™  1217

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen, SPF 50™

    Oil-free and oil control ultra-light and tinted matte technology in a hypoallergenic sunscreen – it’s the holy grail for oily and sensitive skin AND it’s elegant for all skin types too!

    $43.00
  14. Facial Redness Relief Kit - Oil Free  1068

    Facial Redness Relief Kit - Oil Free

    Dermatologist recommended products to calm facial redness from rosacea and seborrheic dermatitis using ingredients that are proven to give relief.
    $79.70
  15. Buf Puf Exfoliating Body Sponge  1047

    Buf Puf Exfoliating Body Sponge

    Buffs and polishes body skin to give you smooth skin with a soft and velvety texture.
    $5.00
  16. Vanicream Cleansing Bar  1156

    Vanicream Cleansing Bar

    Dermatologist-recommended hypoallergenic cleansing bar for extremely sensitive skin.
    $4.00
  17. Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum™  1211

    Instantly Luminous Multi-Action Serum™

    Advanced skin care technology for firmer, brighter, and smoother skin instantly!

    $69.00
  18. Cotton Gloves  1134

    Cotton Gloves

    A really good pair of cotton gloves is essential to help heal dry hands.
    $4.00
  19. Solbar Zinc SPF 38 Sunscreen  1018

    Solbar Zinc SPF 38 Sunscreen

    My favorite sunscreen for sports, swimming and sweaty activities. It spreads so easily that it's also my favorite product to apply to the large expanses of unprotected skin on our bodies. You absolutely must use a water resistant sunscreen when you're going to be wet. Solbar Zinc provides protection for up to 80 minutes in the water with its hefty 7.5% mineral zinc oxide combined with other chemical sunscreen agents. Oil free and shouldn't aggravate acne.

    $13.00
  20. Women's Sun Protection Bucket Hats  1250

    Women's Sun Protection Bucket Hats

    Lightweight, cool, and breathable cloth UPF 50 sun protection hats. Get in the habit of wearing this broad−brimmed hat along with your broad spectrum sunscreen − proven effective in the prevention of skin cancer and premature aging. Fits your head perfectly with its clever, adjustable inner brim cord. Highly packable too and makes a great gift!
    $20.00
  21. All Natural Face and Body Butter Cream™  1140

    All Natural Face and Body Butter Cream™

    Highly Effective moisturizer to heal your extremely dry and sensitive skin.
    $24.00
  22. EltaMD UV SPF 46 Sunscreen  1125

    EltaMD UV SPF 46 Sunscreen

    Completely oil free and ultra light feel on the skin make this sunscreen a marvel. Perfect for oily to normal and acne prone skin. Comes with either a clear or tinted option to help soften complexion flaws for all skin types.

    $32.00
  23. Naturally Best Bar Soap for Dry Skin™  1155

    Naturally Best Bar Soap for Dry Skin™

    Unscented, glycerin-rich soap made with healing oats for your dry and sensitive skin.
    $5.00
  24. Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy™  1060

    Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy™

    State of the art antioxidant skin care powerhouse and my absolute favorite facial product. If you were going to pick just one antioxidant for your skin care, the best would be green tea - it helps calm skin redness and fights sun damage.

    $70.00
  25. Replenix Exfoliating Scrub  1024

    Replenix Exfoliating Scrub

    The rolled bamboo beads provide gentle but effective physical facial exfoliation. Used twice a week in the morning, this product brightens and gives facial skin a nice luster.

    $42.00
  26. Calming Zinc Bar Soap®  1044

    Calming Zinc Bar Soap®

    My favorite skin cleanser! Naturally healing, unbelievably hydrating, and powerfully medicated to solve your skin problems.

  27. Replenix CF Cream   1022

    Replenix CF Cream

    This has been a popular facial product in my dermatology practice for years! This unique oil free cream contains a high concentration of green tea antioxidant polyphenol, combined with caffeine and hyaluronic acid (a very expensive protein moisturizing ingredient).

    $69.70
  28. Foaming Zinc Cleanser™  1040

    Foaming Zinc Cleanser™

    2% Zinc Pyrithione is my 'secret ingredient' that is forgotten in other acne treatments. It combats the skin yeast germ called pityrosporum. I find this germ to be the most common cause of acne on the back and chest.

    $14.80
  29. Salux Wash Cloth  1045

    Salux Wash Cloth

    Have smooth skin instantly! This long exfoliating wash cloth is now my favorite way to physically exfoliate skin on the body.

    $5.00
  30. Toleriane Skin Cleanser  1049

    Toleriane Skin Cleanser

    This is a European-made, extremely gentle cleanser that hydrates and cleans with glycerin, and is free of any irritating sodium laurel sulfate type ingredients. This is my favorite cleanser for dry or sensitive skin, or people using Retin A.

    $22.00
  31. Back Applicator  1050

    Back Applicator

    Not everyone has flexible shoulders and the Back Applicator reaches where the shoulders can't.

    $12.00
  32. Scalp Scrubber  1121

    Scalp Scrubber

    A plastic scalp scrubber is a highly effective way to deep clean your scalp and to help control dandruff, 'dry scalp' and pimples on the scalp.
    $5.00
  33. Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin™  1139

    Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin™

    Gentle, oil free hydration for facial skin. This light glycerin moisturizer is perfect for acne prone skin and to use in combination with all of our therapeutic facial products.

    $16.50
  34. All Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion™  1141

    All Natural Face, Hand and Body Lotion™

    Elegant and light-textured, natural moisturizer for dry to normal sensitive skin.
    $20.00
  35. Suntegrity 5-in-1 BB Cream SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen  1208

    Suntegrity 5-in-1 BB Cream SPF 30 Tinted Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen

    This luscious and all natural face cream is my absolute new favorite face sunscreen! Natural, broad-spectrum mineral zinc oxide protection that feels and looks so good on your skin that you'll want to wear it 24/7.

    $45.00
  36. Clarisonic Mia 2   1252

    Clarisonic Mia 2

    Patented sonic skin cleansing for your face to 'bump-up' the effectiveness of your skin care regimen. Clarisonic Mia 2 gives you a gentle and effective cleanse at home or on the go.

    $150.00
  37. Men’s Performance Microfiber Hat  1189

    Men’s Performance Microfiber Hat

    These stylish and high-performance men’s microfiber hats have a breathable mesh lining and a 3 1/2" brim. They fit perfectly and won’t blow off because they have both an adjustable chin strap and an adjustable brim strap to hold them securely to your head.
    $18.00
  38. Clarisonic SMART Profile   1251

    Clarisonic SMART Profile

    Luxurious head-to-toe sonic face and body cleansing brush. Patented sonic skin cleansing for your face and body to 'bump-up' the effectiveness of your skin care regimen. 11x better cleansing than hands alone!

    $265.00
  39. Holiday Kit for Facial Redness Relief  1261

    Holiday Kit for Facial Redness Relief

    This is the same magical ingredient combination as my regular Facial Redness Relief Kit but now with the newest Replenix Cream containing resveratrol, the grape antioxidant, in a new paraben free cream base.

    $68.00

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