Seborrheic dermatitis in children

Seborrheic dermatitis in children is a chronic, inflammatory skin disease localised in the regions with the largest density of sebaceous glands, such as scalp, face or gluteal region. When thick yellowish deposits – squames, appear on the scalp of a child, the disease is denoted as cradle cap.

When does the disease usually occur?

In children the disease appears during first 10 weeks of life (the fat is secreted under the influence of mothers androgens), but is commonly developed in puberty and around the age of 40.

What causes the disease?

The cause of SD isn’t fully explained but it is considered that it appears due to increased activity of the sebaceous glands, inadequate immunological reaction of the skin and the influence of the Malassezia spp fungus which is a part of normal skin microflora.

How does the seborrheic dermatitis manifest itself?

Seborrheic dermatitis usually appears in children in the form of:

  • Redness with yellowish and whitish deposits – squames with a greasy appearance on the face (especially around the nose and the eyebrows) and around the ears.
  • Clearly defined redness in the groins and in the perianal region with or without an itch.
  • Yellowish, thick greasy deposits on the scalp (Cradle cap), usually in the first few weeks of life.

What are the possible complications?

The existing changes can develop a bacterial superinfection in the form of prominent yellowish crust squames which calls for a mandatory treatment.

Is there a similarity to other diseases?

Differentially it should be thought diagnostically about atopic dermatitis, bacterial infection, psoriasis and fungal infection. In most cases the diagnosis is made based on the clinical picture and no other examinations are required.

Can the disease be prevented?

In order to prevent it, it is necessary to oil the skin with neutral emollient creams and adequately maintain hygiene. Smaller deposits on the scalp are removed with the use of mineral oils by gently combing the hair.

How is the disease treated?

Treating the changes on the face and the body is conducted by applying antimycotic creams or shampoos and mild corticosteroid creams in the shortest period possible. Antimycotic shampoos and mineral oils are used for scalp treatment, with gentle combing of the hair.

In most cases the disease calms down by the first or the second year of life.

MA.Sci.Med.Dr. Danica Milobratovic, dermatologist
Dermatological clinic DERMATIM, Belgrade, Serbia