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Let’s Talk About Seborrheic Dermatitis: Understanding, Managing, and Finding Relief

Winter’s in full swing, and if you’re battling stubborn red, irritated skin that just won’t quit, you’re not alone. Have you been moisturizing like crazy with no relief in sight? It might be time to consider a common culprit: seborrheic dermatitis.

What Exactly is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

It’s a superficial fungal disease consisting of excess yeast on your skin.  At it’s most mild, it presents as red, irritated skin.  At it’s worst, it appears as red, irritated, dry skin with white or yellow flakes. Depending upon how oily your skin is, the oil may hold onto the flakes causing build-up.

NOTE: ONLY A MEDICAL DOCTOR CAN DIAGNOSE YOU WITH SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS. THIS ARTICLE IS FOR INFORMATIVE AND  EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED A DIAGNOSIS.
Drawing of three human faces with dark, medium, and light skin tones that includes how seborrheic dermatitis shows up on each type of skin tone. The areas affected appear red with yellow or white scales and are drawn in the areas of the forehead and sides of nose.

Image: Drugs.com

Where Does It Typically Show Up?

  • Scalp (you’ll know it as dandruff)
  • Around the eyes and eyebrows
  • On the nose and sides of the nose
  • Under the arms
  • Skin folds, such as under the breasts
  • Groin
  • Although it can appear anywhere on the body

Recognizing the Signs

  • Redness and irritation that either comes and goes or that you can’t get rid of
  • Scaly patches that are white or yellow in color that tend to flake away
  • On higher melanated skin, the patches can appear darker than your natural skin tone instead of red
  • Can look similar to periocular dermatitis, perioral dermatitis, and rosacea, therefore it’s important to see a medical doctor when experiencing these symptoms

What’s Triggering It?

Stress, fatigue, a change of season, depression, anxiety, immune system disorders, and cold weather are the biggest culprits.

While there isn’t a direct link to specific foods, consuming foods with a high glycemic index can raise blood sugar and provide food for the excess yeast to grow.  Fast food, highly processed food,  simple carbohydrates such as breads, rice and cakes, alcohol, and dairy are common high glycemic index foods.

Quick Fixes for Immediate Relief

Ditch the hot water and complex skincare routines.  Go with a gentle cleanser and moisturizer.

Dandruff shampoo can be used in a pinch, only wash on the affected areas.

For other areas of the body, diaper cream can be soothing.

Once your doctor provides a prescription, be sure to always have your prescribed cream on hand.

And Whatever You Do, Don’t…

Pick at it!  Trust me, it’s not worth the risk of infection.  And exfoliation?  Nope, not now.  Save the scrubs, AHAs and BHAs for later.

Will It Ever Go Away?

Unfortunately, not entirely. We all have yeast that lives on our skin, and when it’s out of balance, that’s when the trouble starts.  

However, if you take the time to identify your specific triggers, you can help minimize the frequency or severity.

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