When seborrheic dermatitis presents in babies, the condition is also known as “cradle cap” or “pityriasis capitis” due to the appearance of scaling that extends from the baby’s scalp down to the eyebrows, much like a cap. This irritating condition in newborns affects roughly 42% of babies. It most commonly arises during the first three months of life but can reoccur during adolescence and into adulthood, especially during periods of sleeplessness or stress.
The primary symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Flaking of the skin
- White or yellowish scales
- Oily and dry patches
- Redness and inflammation of the scalp
- Hairlessness where scaling occurs
Incidence of seborrheic flaking is most common to the scalp, but may also affect the forehead, face, behind the ears, in the diaper area, in the armpits, or along other skin folds and creases where oil accumulates. This excessive oil production is what causes the skin to shed and the red irritation. The precise cause is yet unknown, though various studies have linked the condition to everything from hormone levels, nutritional deficits, and neurogenic factors, to fungal infections, and overactive sebum production.