How is seborrheic dermatitis treated?

Treatment depends on your age and the area of the body that is affected.

  • In adolescents and adults, seborrheic dermatitis may clear up on its own. Dandruff can be treated with an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo that contains tar, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, or ketoconazole. The scalp and hair should be washed at least every other day. Steroid lotions may be used to treat other affected skin areas.
  • In babies, cradle cap usually clears up without treatment when the child is between 8 and 12 months old. It may be treated with daily cleansing, using a mild baby shampoo. Massage or brush the scalp with a soft brush several times a day and after each shampoo. Be careful not to cause a break in the skin, which can lead to infection. If the problem continues, or the baby seems uncomfortable and scratches the scalp, contact your pediatrician or dermatologist. He or she may prescribe a prescription shampoo or lotion. Other areas of affected skin may be treated with a gentle steroid lotion.

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