Scalp Dermatitis Signs - Symptoms and Causes

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that commonly affects the scalp.  It causes the skin to be itchy, scaly and red with stubborn dandruff.  In infants it is also known as cradle cap.  Other areas of the body may be affected as well including the face, chest, ears, and even creases in arms and legs.   This uncomfortable condition is no harmful but can be extremely itchy and unattractive. 


Some common signs of seborrheic dermatitis are:


  • Dandruff and flaky scalp
  • Sore or itchy scalp
  • Skin patches that are scaly or crusty
  • White or yellowish scales on scalp and sometimes attached to hair shaft
  • Greasy red skin covered with flaky scales



Most often you will find these symptoms occur on the scalp, but they can be on any area of the body that tends to be oily.  Some common areas are on the face such as the eyebrows, sides of nose, and behind the ears.  It is also sometimes found on the chest or breastbone, armpits, folds in skin, and the groin area. 


The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known exactly, but there are several factors that seem to be contributors including:


  • Malassezia- this is a yeast fungus that grows in oily areas of the skin. 
  • Seasonal Outbreaks- like many skin conditions it tends to be worse in dry winter weather.
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Auto-immune diseases, such as HIV/ AIDS, increases susceptibility
  • Nuerological conditions, like Parkinson’s disease may increase susceptibility
  • Heredity  





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