Seborrhoeic dermatitis is a condition that makes your skin red, flaky and itchy. It’s also known as seborrhoeic eczema. It affects areas of your body where there are lots of oil-producing glands. These include your face, scalp and chest. Read the about section for more information.
Seborrheic dermatitis varies in severity from mild, flaky dandruff on your scalp to scaly, red patches on large areas of your skin. Babies can get seborrhoeic dermatitis on their scalp, known as cradle cap. This causes greasy, yellow-brown, scaly patches on their scalp. Read more in our symptoms section.
Doctors aren’t sure why people get seborrhoeic dermatitis. But it's thought to be associated with a yeast called Malassezia, which is found on our skin. People with seborrhoeic dermatitis seem to have more of this yeast, or are more sensitive to it. See the section on causes for more details.
Although studies have looked at a possible link, there’s no strong evidence that any particular foods trigger seborrhoeic dermatitis. Things that may trigger a flare-up include stress, tiredness and cold weather. See the causes section for more information.
If you have seborrhoeic dermatitis, your symptoms will usually come and go. There are certain things that can trigger a flare-up, including feeling tired, stressed or unwell. Cold weather can also trigger symptoms. You can read more on this in our causes section.
Did our Seborrhoeic dermatitis information help you?
We’d love to hear what you think. Our short survey takes just a few minutes to complete and helps us to keep improving our health information.
This information was published by Bupa's Health Content Team and is based on reputable sources of medical evidence. It has been reviewed by appropriate medical or clinical professionals and deemed accurate on the date of review. Photos are only for illustrative purposes and do not reflect every presentation of a condition.
Any information about a treatment or procedure is generic, and does not necessarily describe that treatment or procedure as delivered by Bupa or its associated providers.
The information contained on this page and in any third party websites referred to on this page is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice nor is it intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment. Third party websites are not owned or controlled by Bupa and any individual may be able to access and post messages on them. Bupa is not responsible for the content or availability of these third party websites. We do not accept advertising on this page.
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis. Patient. patient.info, last edited 14 March 2022
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis. NICE Clinical Knowledge Summaries. cks.nice.org.uk, last revised July 2022
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis. British Association of Dermatologists. www.bad.org.uk, updated April 2018
- Sebaceous gland. Encyclopedia Britannica. www.britannica.com, last updated 29 December 2022
- Tucker D, Masood S. Seborrheic dermatitis. StatPearls Publishing. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books, last updated 1 August 2022
- Seborrhoeic dermatitis. BMJ Best Practice. bestpractice.bmj.com, last reviewed 4 December 2022
- Sanders MGH, Pardo LM, Ginger RS, et al. Association between diet and seborrheic dermatitis: a cross-sectional study. J Invest Dermatol 2019; 139(1):108–14. doi: 10.1016/j.jid.2018.07.027
- Personal communication, Dr Anton Alexandroff, Consultant Dermatologist, 10 February 2023
- Conditions for which over-the-counter items should not routinely be prescribed in primary care: Guidance for CCGs. NHS England. www.england.nhs.uk, 29 March 2018