Seborrhea is an inherited condition that affects the rate of production of skin cells. For the many who think their problem is actually due to “dryness”, visible flaking is really due to a buildup of proliferating cells that have nowhere to go. This is why all the moisturizer in the world won’t help resolve seborrhea dermatitis. Seborrhea is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that affects the areas of the head and trunk that have sebaceous glands.
Seborrheic dermatitis appears on sebum-rich areas of the scalp, face, and trunk. Sebum production begins at puberty, triggered by circulating DHT (the activated testosterone metabolite). Lipid rich sebum nourishes normal skin yeast, Pityrosporum ovale. Flourishing numbers of yeast produce lipase, an enzyme used to break down sebum into digestible free fatty acids (FFA).
Unfortunately, FFAs are irritating to the skin resulting in inflammation – hence the itch, scratch cycle. Patients with seborrheic dermatitis also have an abnormal immune response with reduced activity of helper T cells and activation of the alternative complement pathway.
However, there is no doubt that there are definitely trigger factors that can cause seborrheic dermatitis to flare. Seasonal changes unquestionably play a role in flaring seborrheic dermatitis. Part of this is due to diminished UV light during the winter.
Ultraviolet rays help reduce the rate of cellular turnover, explaining why the condition is at its best during the summer. Cold weather also dehydrates the skin, exaggerating the appearance of flaking. And finally, cold and flu season is coincidentally at its peak, perhaps confusing the picture.
Both viral and bacterial infections can affect the immune system and trigger a bout of seborrhea. It’s not that the skin is infected, but the body’s generalized response to it. Seborrhea is a chronic inflammatory skin disorder that affects the areas of the head and trunk that have sebaceous glands. A type of yeast that has an affinity for these glands called Pityrosporum ovale may be the cause, but this has not been proven yet.
It is believed that the build-up of yeast in these glands irritates the skin causing redness and flaking.
Progesterone is on a rise just before one’s menstrual cycle begins and during pregnancy. Higher levels of progesterone make for higher levels of DHT to stimulate the sebaceous glands and trigger a flare of seborrhea.
The use of DERMAdoctor Calm, Cool & Corrected 2N1 Rosacea Tx can help address increased oiliness, blemishes, scaling and itching during this time. So, condition like seborrhea is likely to be far more significant in a patient already genetically predisposed.
Excellent maintenance therapy with a variety of treatments targeting the underlying causes can help improve the appearance of seborrheic dermatitis for these patients.
Adults who have seborrhea usually experience a waxing and waning course. In other words it can’t be “cured”.
The good news is with proper maintenance, seborrhea can be controlled. Furthermore, most of the treatments can be found over-the-counter.
Proper hygiene plays an important role in treatment. Frequent washing with soap gets rid of the oils in the affected areas and improves symptoms. Sunlight inhibits the growth of the yeast; therefore exposure of affected areas to sun is helpful, although caution should be exercised to avoid sun damage. The main medical treatments are antifungal shampoos and topical steroids.