Scientific Area

Seborrheic dermatitis

CATEGORIES SCIENTIFIC AREA

Scientific collaboration between Professor Marco Toscani and Dr. Pasquale Fino, Chair of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery, Umberto I Health Center – “Sapienza” University of Rome.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a very common scalp condition characterized by the presence of yellow and oily flakes on the skin.

It is associated with erythema, small scaly, and intense itching.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a well-known condition but is still not easily identifiable. Many men and women starting from puberty have oily, greasy, shiny and thickened skin with large hair follicles, especially noticeable around the nose and mouth, forehead, torso, scalp (affected by so-called oily dandruff).
Seborrheic dermatitis appears in these individuals. It is characterized by red, reddish-yellow or dark red skin patches, covered with small and medium sized, thick and greasy flakes, sometimes appearing as scaly formations with blisters that are not easily noticed.

Seborrheic eczema is a typical form surrounded by seborrheic dermatitis limited to certain areas of the body, found at the level of the sternum and shoulder blades, characterized by various round patches with clearly defined convex edges. Another form is characterized by pityriasiform and psoriasiform patches. Complications of seborrheic dermatitis are: eczematization (the most common complication), external otitis, occipital and nuchal eczema, umbilical eczema, areola eczema in women and lastly perineum-genital eczema.

Often, seborrheic dermatitis is located on the scalp and along its edges. An irregular patch often emerges from the scalp onto the forehead called a “seborrheic crown”. It is important to remember that seborrheic dermatitis in and of itself does not cause hair loss.
The etiopathogenesis of seborrheic dermatitis is not completely clear. Recognized concurrent causes are bacterial, fungal (Malassezia), infectious, mechanical, irritative, psychosomatic and sebaceous dysfunction (most probably of genetic origin) factors. In the case of seborrheic dermatitis sebum undergoes a chemical transformation. In fact, a reduction of triglycerides, squalene and cholesterol occurs.

Hair treatments like lotions and shampoos are commonly used as local anti-seborrheic treatments. Non-halogenated corticosteroids in the form of gels or lotions are very effective. Antibiotics and antifungal treatments may also be used. Positive results have also been achieved by using retinoic acid and ketoconazole, general purpose antifungals.

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Greasy hair

Greasy hair appears dirty, greasy, oily, shiny and often has an unpleasant odor.
Individuals who have greasy hair often also have other areas of the skin (nose, forehead, chin) that are quite greasy (called “seborrheic” skin).

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Hair loss (telogen defluvium)

With the term Telogen Defluvium we mean a modest, not excessive, loss of hair in the telogen phase, but which tends to often be irreversible, with the precise characteristics of hair in decay or involution. The hair that falls out is usually short and fine, with bulbs that are undeveloped and reduced in size.

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Androgenetic alopecia (pattern hair loss) or baldness

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss and affects the majority of white men, with varying degrees of seriousness. It is less frequent in other ethnic groups. Often it can be associated with a family history of baldness, but the absence of other affected family members does not exclude the diagnosis. The condition is characterized by progressive hair loss in the crown area, the front hairline and the temporal area.

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Dandruff or pityriasis

Dandruff is a scalp condition that usually arises between the ages of 10 and 25. It may improve between the ages of 45 and 55 or may continue during old age.
Its cause is a result of an accelerated turnover of epidermal cells, which following an increase in migration speed, are unable to reach complete maturity before detaching. Whitish-yellow flakes (masses of corneum cells) form and detach, gathering in patches or often spreading evenly across the scalp.

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