Seborrhoeic dermatitis (seborrhoeic eczema)

Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a skin condition - with redness and scaling - that mainly appears on the face and scalp. In seborrhoeic dermatitis, the skin cells divide many times faster than usual. Dead cells flake off in small, dry pieces (scales).

What is seborrhoeic dermatitis?

This type of eczema occurs in approximately 5% of the population, slightly more often in men than in women. The condition usually occurs at the onset of puberty and is not contagious.

The eczema mainly occurs at the hairline, eyebrows, folds next to the nose and in and behind the ears.

How does seborrhoeic dermatitis develop?

The 'Pityrosporum ovale' yeast, which is naturally present on everyone's scalp, plays an important role in the development of seborrhoeic dermatitis. The yeast, and therefore also the skin condition, is mainly found where there are many sebaceous glands.

In people with seborrhoeic dermatitis, this yeast is found in higher than normal amounts. Some people's immune systems react to the yeast with an inflammatory response. This causes the redness of the eczema. It is not known why some people are predisposed to react to the yeast and others are not.

Emotional tensions can aggravate seborrhoeic dermatitis. The cold in autumn and winter and dry air in centrally heated rooms can also worsen the eczema.


Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a skin condition that can be treated well, but there is no definitive cure for it, because the predisposition to this form of eczema cannot be changed.

The treatment aims to reduce yeast levels and the inflammatory response in the skin. Any form of treatment is ‘symptomatic’, meaning that the symptoms (redness, scaling, itching) are suppressed. Treatment usually consists of using shampoo, creams or combinations of these (local treatment).

For more information about the treatment options, please contact your treating doctor.

Last modified on 6 July 2022


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