Overview of dermatitis
- William L Weston, MD
William L Weston, MD
- Professor Emeritus of Dermatology
- University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine
- William Howe, MD
William Howe, MD
- Assistant Clinical Professor
- University of Colorado Denver School of Medicine
- Section Editor
- Robert P Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
Robert P Dellavalle, MD, PhD, MSPH
- Section Editor — General Dermatology
- Professor of Dermatology and Public Health
- University of Colorado School of Medicine
- Colorado School of Public Health
- Chief, Dermatology Service
- US Department of Veterans Affairs
- Eastern Colorado Health Care System
The terms "dermatitis" and "eczema" are frequently used interchangeably. When the term "eczema" is used alone, it usually refers to atopic dermatitis (atopic eczema). "Eczematous" also connotes some scaling, crusting, or serous oozing as opposed to mere erythema. The term "dermatitis" is typically used with qualifiers (eg, "contact dermatitis") to describe several different skin disorders, the most common of which are discussed in this review. Atopic dermatitis is discussed separately. (See "Atopic dermatitis (eczema): Pathogenesis, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis".)
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common problem of unknown etiology. Approximately 1 to 3 percent of adults have seborrheic dermatitis . The term is derived from the distribution of this disorder, in which erythematous, scaly patches develop in areas that are rich in sebaceous glands, such as the scalp, face, and upper trunk. The term "seborrhea" refers to excess oil secretion, although this finding is not uniformly present in patients with seborrheic dermatitis [2,3].
In infants, seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is often called "cradle cap." (See "Cradle cap and seborrheic dermatitis in infants", section on 'Clinical manifestations'.)
Pathogenesis — The cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not completely understood. Evidence supports a causal role of the skin saprophytic species of Malassezia (formerly Pityrosporum ovale), which has been shown to colonize the skin of patients with this disorder . A host reaction to Malassezia yeasts or their metabolites is thought to contribute to the inflammatory response seen in seborrheic dermatitis .
Malassezia are lipid-dependent organisms which proliferate in sebum and are normal residents of the skin flora. Although increased numbers of yeasts have been reported in patients with seborrheic dermatitis , the number of Malassezia organisms present on the skin does not always correlate with the presence or severity of the disorder [3,5]. However, a contribution of Malassezia to the pathogenesis of seborrheic dermatitis is supported by the clinical response to antifungal therapies.To continue reading this article, you must log in with your personal, hospital, or group practice subscription. For more information on subscription options, click below on the option that best describes you:
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- SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS
- Clinical manifestations and diagnosis
- - Dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp)
- - Non-scalp seborrheic dermatitis
- Seborrheic dermatitis associated with disease
- - HIV infection
- - Neurologic disorders
- CONTACT DERMATITIS
- Allergic contact dermatitis
- - Pathogenesis
- - Triggers
- - Clinical presentation
- - Diagnosis
- - Treatment
- Irritant contact dermatitis
- - Clinical manifestations and diagnosis
- - Treatment
- Latex allergy
- DYSHIDROTIC ECZEMA
- Clinical manifestations
- NUMMULAR DERMATITIS
- Clinical manifestations and diagnosis
- INFORMATION FOR PATIENTS