Seborrhea: Causes, Risk Factors, Symptoms, Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention

It is a chronic and painful skin condition caused by failures in the neuroendocrine regulation of the sebaceous gland function.

The disease only in 10% of patients remains for life. This problem occurs in both men and women, and does not have a specific age to appear.

But often, it occurs in sick and elderly people, as well as middle-aged men.

It is also observed that it occurs to a greater extent in men than in women.

Seborrhea can occur in any area of ​​the skin where there are sebaceous glands but its favorite places are the T-shaped area of ​​the face that includes the nose, chin, forehead and also in the area of ​​the neck that meets the part central back.

This state is also characterized by an excessive production of sebum on the scalp and behind the ears, causing yellow flaking, irritation and inflammation.

Seborrhea comes from a yeast that irritates the skin.

By definition, seborrhea is “the oily secretion of the sebaceous glands, the ducts of which open into the hair follicles.”

The problem is that yeast thrives on this oily secretion.

Therefore, when yeast is present and the sebaceous glands are overly productive, people experience red, scaly, and irritated skin.

To better understand the problem, also known as seborrheic dermatitis, it should be known that fat is normally produced by the sebaceous glands attached to the glands of the hair, to keep the hair lubricated, shiny and healthy.

But due to hormonal changes, stress, improper hair care, pollution, and poor hygiene, such a mechanism simply loses its balance and more sebum is secreted.

Notably, seborrhea can sometimes lead to hair loss, as many people who suffer from the hair follicle lead to hair atrophy.

Seborrhea in children

The disease can begin after three months of life, and causes discomfort to babies. Seborrhea in children manifests itself as yellowish-brown crusts that often cover the scalp.

After a while, the scabs are scaly and easily peel off the baby’s skin, just like dandruff.

Children’s seborrhea is called gneiss, as are milk crusts.

The causes of seborrhea in children are sometimes the presence of hormones from the mother in the body.

These hormones activate the sebaceous glands. After a while, the concentration of hormones decreases and the crusts disappear on their own.

Another reason for the appearance of infantile seborrhea can be the genetics of the parents, as well as the susceptibility of the parents to allergies that can be transmitted to the baby.

In this case, the baby may develop eczema with signs of scabs in the ear and armpits.

The treatment of infantile seborrhea is to wash the baby’s head with baby shampoo, then brush the scales with a soft brush or oil, gently massaging the baby on the head, leaving until morning.

If these methods do not help and the scabs form again, contact your pediatrician.


The disease can appear at any age, but it often progresses during puberty, because the secretion of the sebaceous glands increases due to hormonal changes in the body.

Seborrhea of ​​the skin that appeared in the youth period is considered physiological. As the patient grows, the signs of seborrhea are eliminated.

Seborrhea of ​​the skin and its common causes are hormonal disorders that are expressed by a variation in the amount of androgens and estrogens that are produced.

During the increase in androgens, the amount of sebum that is formed increases.

Female seborrhea is manifested by disorders of the quantitative ratio of progesterone and androgens.

In this case, there is an increase in androgen levels, and estrogen and progesterone decrease.

Male seborrhea is manifested by an increase in androgen levels and the acceleration of metabolic processes.

The causes of this can be hereditary factors and the presence of producer tumors, such as a testicular tumor.

The causes of seborrhea can occur in symbiosis with diseases such as Parkinson’s disease, encephalitis lethargica, and Itenko-Cushing’s disease.

The cause of the pathogenesis of the disease can come from a mental disorder such as: schizophrenia, infectious psychosis, manic-depressive psychosis, as well as epilepsy.

Seborrhea can occur due to hypovitaminosis, prolonged intake of anabolics, progesterone, testosterone, and glucocorticosteroids.

The last role in the appearance of seborrhea is attributed to the pathogenic effect of Pityrosporum ovale, a yeast-like fungus.

Concomitant diseases increase sebum secretion, as well as the amount of Pityrosporum ovale.

The hallmarks of seborrhea due to seborrheic dermatitis are impaired function of the sebaceous glands and inflammation of the skin.

Risk factors for seborrhea

Newborns and adults between the ages of 30 and 60 are more likely to develop seborrheic dermatitis.

It is more common in men than women and in people with oily skin. In addition, there are risk factors such as:

  • The acne .
  • AIDS.
  • The alcoholism.
  • The depression .
  • Eating disorders.
  • Epilepsy.
  • Heart attack or stroke.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Psoriasis
  • Rosacea.


Skin disease is manifested by a sharp increase in sebum with qualitative changes in the skin.

In this case, the following happens: the stratum corneum thickens, a characteristic greasy shine appears on the skin, an itchy skin, partial hair loss and abundant dandruff.

If patients do not wash their heads often, the process progresses and spreads to new areas of the skin, while the layer becomes more abundant.

In severe seborrhea, there are red patches on the skin, covered with bloody scales or crusts.

In the seborrheic process, the skin of the forehead, the areas of the ear canals, the regions behind the ear may be involved.

Patients may complain of persistent discomfort and severe itching.

In the absence of proper treatment, plaques may appear on the skin of the face, chest, and back with the complication of a bacterial infection.


Diagnosis of seborrhea includes the following diagnostic measures: medical history, physical examination based on skin signs and symptoms, identification of risk factors for the pathogenesis of seborrhea.

Also blood tests for the detection of hormones, biochemical blood tests, a bacteriological study of the condition of the hair and skin.

If necessary, the study of the endocrine system is prescribed.

Prevention of seborrhea

  • Avoid stressful situations as much as possible, which can be addressed through the administration of natural tranquilizers.
  • Follow a balanced diet and drink 2 to 3 liters of water a day.
  • Wash and gently brush your hair regularly.
  • Do not use shampoos that are irritating or inappropriate for the hair type.


The disease is characterized by an expansion of the channels of the sebaceous glands.

Fat seborrhea

The elasticity of the skin decreases, large pores appear and often masses that obstruct the sebaceous hair follicles.

This causes the formation of acne breakouts and black spots – comedones.

At first glance, the high fat content in the hair is observed with signs of yellow scales on the scalp.

Fatty seborrhea is a pustular disease. This type of skin disease is more common among young people and women.

Fatty seborrhea is treated with alcoholic solutions containing sulfur, resorcinol, salicylic acid, ether, calendula tincture, ammonia solutions, sodium tetraborate, tannin, alum, hydrochloric acid or hawthorn lotions and lily of the valley.

It is recommended to wash your head once every seven days. More frequent washing can cause excessive drying and loss of oil from the skin.

Oily seborrhea is successfully polymerized by the opposite methods of degreasing.

In alcoholic solutions, oil or oily cream is added with a retinol solution, as well as disinfectants such as lemon juice.

Dry seborrhea

With this form of seborrhea, we have a lower salinity, while on the scalp we observe an abundant presence of dandruff.

Dry seborrhea is the result of reduced immunity caused by malnutrition and intense emotional and physical stress.

The natural peeling cycle on the skin of the cells is shortened, which leads to dandruff. Also, the hair structure is broken.

Patients complain that hair becomes brittle, thin, dry, and ends break.

The dry form is characterized by hair loss.

With this form of the disease, formulations with salicylic acid, sulfur are used.

For the prevention and treatment of the scalp, the use of creams with vitamin F is recommended.

It is very important to use products that contain unsaturated fatty acids (soy, sunflower, corn and other vegetable oils), as well as preparations that contain vitamin F (linetol, rosehip oil).

Head washing is reduced to once every ten days.

Mixed seborrhea

Mixed seborrhea is characterized by the simultaneous presence of dry and fatty signs. And what is remarkable is the simultaneous arrangement of the skin on the skin.

For example, in the center of the face, the skin is oily and dry on the cheeks. Or mixed seborrhea may appear oily on the head and dry on the face.

Treatment of seborrhea

Nutritional guidelines must be followed.

Acidic, fatty and canned foods are excluded, the consumption of salt, carbohydrates (flour and sweets) is also reduced to a minimum.

Treatment of seborrhea of ​​the skin includes daily walks, healthy sleep, sunbathing, playing sports. When there is neurosis, sedatives are prescribed to the patient.

Drug treatment of seborrhea includes the use of antifungal agents from the azole group, including Keto Plus, Ketoconazole, Nizoral, Dermazol, Nizoral, Biffon, Bifonazole.

In addition, in women, contraceptives that regulate the hormonal function of the ovaries are recommended.

Seborrhea of ​​the skin is treated with means for restoration, such as vitamin preparations (B, A, D, E), elements, ascorbic acid, nicotinic acid, glycerophosphate, sulfur, calcium, copper, iron, zinc oxide, additives active biologics, including brewer’s yeast, as well as biogenic stimulants.

In treating seborrhea of ​​the scalp, hygiene should also be observed, as well as special care for the condition of oily skin.

Hair shampoo should be selected from species containing selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, ketoconazole, or tar.

There are natural treatments for seborrhea such as:

  • Infusions of St. John’s wort, chamomile flowers, sage leaves, castor oil, honey, oats, calendula among others.
  • After the treatment, in addition to normalizing the skin condition, it is necessary to wash the head with therapeutic shampoos that have very mild degreasing substances, which regulate sebum secretion, remove excess oil, clean and leave the hair manageable.
  • Seborrhea patients should carefully change skin care products.
  • But avoid using styling lotions, chemicals, hair dye, and blow drying.
  • When an increased presence of seborrhea dandruff is shown, products containing antifungal substances should be used.
  • If hair loss is observed, treatments that are normally indicated for alopecia can be recommended.
  • You should follow a balanced diet and drink 2 to 3 liters of water daily.
  • If the problem persists for two or more weeks, a dermatologist should be consulted to find a more aggressive treatment.
  • You should rub the scalp with your fingers and use soft brushes and combs.