Is Seborrheic Dermatitis a fungus?

By Dr. Eddie Valenzuela

Seborrheic Dermatitis or Cradle Cap may be due to an overproduction of a naturally present fungus, Malassezia yeast.  However, the exact causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis and Cradle Cap are still debated by doctors and continue to be investigated as this is not fully proven yet.

While the theory has not been proven, most medical professionals make this assumption because of the effectiveness of antifungal treatments that specifically target the build-up of Malassezia yeast on our skin.

So, is Seborrheic Dermatitis (Cradle Cap) fungal?

Malassezia yeast is a genus of fungi that is found in nearly every corner of the planet—from deep-sea vents to the skin of almost every warm-blooded animal. While we often correlate the presence of fungi with a fungal infection, the reality is that many types of fungi live peacefully on or in or bodies. For instance, Malassezia yeast is found on the skin of more than 7 billion people, with roughly 42% of those experiencing symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, or “cradle cap,” before the age of 6 and others suffering through flare-ups later in their adult lives.

One important thing to remember when asking yourself, “Is seborrheic dermatitis a fungus?” is that even if it is, unlike other kinds of fungal infections, this skin condition is NOT contagious.

Most physicians and parents refer to the onset of seborrheic dermatitis in infants and children as a “cradle cap.” This is because of the dry, yellow, scaling skin that covers the baby’s head from its crown to its eyebrows like a cap. Like seborrheic dermatitis in adults, the exact cause of cradle cap is unknown but is believed to be related to an excessive amount of Malassezia yeast, which could make cradle cap a fungus caused condition.

Anti-fungal treatments for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Antifungal treatments have shown to be the most effective ways to reduce or eliminate symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, which is a major reason doctors believe that Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) is a fungus.  It is best to use a cradle cap shampoo for the irritated scalp that contains Pyrithione Zinc. This ingredient is an antifungal and antibacterial agent that targets Malassezia. Prevailing scientific thoughts believe that by reducing the overabundance of fungi we can reduce the irritation that causes red, itchy, flaking, and crusted skin.  Using a shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis symptoms can be extremely helpful in managing these bothersome symptoms. However, adults who experience regular flare-ups of seborrheic dermatitis can also prevent future breakouts by paying attention to and reducing or eliminating common triggers for a flare-up, such as cold or dry weather, stress, hormonal changes, harsh soaps or solvents, or allergies.

Those with extra sensitive skin may also want to be cautious of the additional ingredients in their medicated shampoos or body washes. Certain synthetic ingredients can strip your skin of its natural oils and create further uncomfortable dryness and irritation to the skin.

What to Do About Cradle Cap in Children

The difference between a cradle cap shampoo specifically made for kids and products designed for the general treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis is that adult formulas typically contain additional ingredients that can be harsh on or even harmful to the delicate skin of children. Things like synthetic fragrances, dyes, sulfates, BPA, alcohol, and parabens can all have negative effects on a child’s skin and may even further irritate their condition or create new symptoms.

Award-winning pediatrician Dr. Eddie Valenzuela recommends using products that are gentle on the skin but strong in targeting and managing the causes of cradle cap. Dr. Eddie tends to refer to cradle cap by its formal name seborrheic dermatitis. Dr. Eddie’s Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash contains FDA-approved Pyrithione Zinc to fight flakes associated with seborrheic dermatitis,  while using other natural and plant-based ingredients like Licorice Root Extract, and Provitamin B5 to soothe redness and and moisturize skin.

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash is the best way to manage seborrheic dermatitis in children of all ages and for adults who may seek a gentler, more natural product.

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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