How do I Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis on the Face?

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  • Written By: A.E. Freeman
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Images By: Konstantin Yuganov, Diego Cervo, Carroteater,, Rtimages, Dmitrimaruta, Lucie Říhovã¡, n/a
  • Last Modified Date: 23 January 2020
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Treatment of seborrheic dermatitis on the face differs from treatment of this condition elsewhere. A less potent form of steroid cream should be applied to the face to combat the disease. While treatment will clear it up, there is no cure for the condition, and it may return at a later date.

Several factors can cause seborrheic dermatitis on the face. An overgrowth of a type of yeast known as malassezia on particularly oily parts of the face, such as the T-zone between a person's eyebrows, can lead to it. The condition can also be exacerbated when a person is undergoing stress or is overtired. Many cases clear up in warmer seasons only to return in cold weather. Diseases that damage the nervous system, such as Parkinson's, can also lead to seborrheic dermatitis, as can stress conditions such as a heart attack or conditions in which a patient's immune system is suppressed, such as HIV.

Corticosteroids are commonly used to treat seborrheic dermatitis on the face. An over-the-counter cream such as 1% hydrocortisone may be sufficient to treat the condition. Certain anti-fungal creams may also help it clear up. The creams should be applied twice daily.


In some cases, over-the-counter medications and creams may not be effective enough. Some patients may need to see a medical professional for a prescription cream such as ketoconazole, an anti-fungal, or desonide, a type of corticosteroid. The two creams may also be prescribed together. Since there are risks involved in using corticosteroids, such as thinning of the skin, a patient should follow the instructions exactly and not use the cream more or less than directed.

If prescription creams prove ineffective as well, a medical professional may prescribe immunomodulators, medications that reduce the immune system and in turn reduce inflammation. Since immunomodulators can have long-term negative effects on the immune system, they should only be prescribed as a last resort for seborrheic dermatitis that does not respond to any other treatment or if a patient cannot tolerate the other treatment options. The medications should only be used for a brief period of time to prevent long-lasting problems. A person who wants to avoid using corticosteroids or other potent medicines may benefit from applying tea tree oil to the face instead.


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Discuss this Article

Post 2

@talentryto- You make a very good point. A person who gets an accurate diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis can also discuss his or her preferred treatment options.

Whether a patient wants to try oral medication or natural remedies, there are many seborrheic dermatitis treatments available to suit individual needs and preferences. In other words, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for this skin condition.

Post 1

No one should try to treat what they assume is seborrheic dermatitis without first getting a diagnosis from a family doctor or dermatologist. Since each individual is different, only a medical professional can select the best of the many treatments available for an individual patient. Randomly trying different products might only make the symptoms worse.

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