Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis

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Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that occurs mainly on the scalp but may also be present in other oil-producing areas of the body, such as the eyebrows, face, eyelids, and chest. Similar to but more severe than dandruff, this condition can be unsightly and uncomfortable. Severity can range from a few annoying skin flakes in the patient’s hair, to large dry patches of skin that can become itchy and painful.

Symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis often include:

  • Dandruff or skin flakes in the hair
  • Red skin
  • Itchy skin, especially itchy scalp
  • Patches of greasy skin covered by yellow scales or crust

Symptoms may resolve on their own, or they may require the use of a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo or other clinically formulated product. Though this condition can strike at any age, it’s much more common in babies than it is in adults.

Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis in Babies

In babies, seborrheic dermatitis is colloquially referred to by many names, including “cradle cap” due to the way symptoms present: like a crusty cap of scales that may extend from the scalp as far down as the eyebrows.

For parents, it can be scary to see large areas of dry, flaky patches on your child’s head, but rest assured, cradle cap is a temporary condition that doesn’t cause more than itching and some minor discomfort. Of course, if you notice patches on your child’s skin, it is always best to ask your pediatrician for advice.

Identifying Seborrheic Dermatitis (Cradle Cap)

When cradle cap appears on a baby’s head, it’s usually diagnosed by simply observing the symptoms. Your pediatrician will recommend a medicated shampoo and a few simple tips to keep the condition under control.

Since seborrheic dermatitis is less common in adults, older patients may undergo testing to make sure it’s not another, more serious condition or an allergic reaction. They’ll review your family history and may even look at skin flakes under a microscope. This will help them to rule out other possible ailments.

Treatment & Prevention

Though it’s still unclear what exactly causes seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, there is a range of products that are designed to reduce and eliminate symptoms. The most common recommendation by doctors and pediatricians is to use a medicated shampoo and body wash that contains the FDA-approved active ingredient pyrithione zinc, an effective pyrithione zinc shampoo holds known fungistatic and bacteriostatic properties. Your doctor may also recommend using a gentle moisturizer to help encourage healthy healing.

Use a Medicated Shampoo to Treat Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis

As a pediatrician, Dr. Eddie Valenzuela commonly recommended adult dandruff shampoos to treat seborrheic dermatitis in babies and small children. However, he found such products to contain unnecessary ingredients that run the risk of further irritating a child’s delicate skin. To solve this problem, he created Happy Cappy.

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo & Body Wash is the only dermatologist-tested seborrheic dermatitis shampoo made just for children. Made with the pyrithione zinc 0.95% (for Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis), licorice root, and provitamin B5, it is free of dyes, alcohol, fragrances, BPA, parabens, sulfates and other potentially harmful additives. Use at least twice a week for noticeable improvement of symptoms.

Additional resources:
  • Mayo Clinic, Seborrheic Dermatitis,
  • Kids Health, Cradle Cap (Seborrheic Dermatitis) in Infants,
  • National Eczema Foundation, Seborrheic Dermatitis,


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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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Is Seborrheic Dermatitis normal in babies?

Yes, Seborrheic Dermatitis is more common in babies than in adults. In babies, it is often called "cradle cap," which appears as crusty scales extending from the scalp down to the eyebrows.

What are the common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis?

Common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are dandruff or skin flakes in the hair, redness, itchy skin, and greasy skin patches with yellow or brown crust and scales.

How is Seborrheic Dermatitis diagnosed?

Cradle cap in babies is usually diagnosed by observing the symptoms. However, in older patients, testing and examining skin flakes under a microscope may be required to rule out whether it's seborrheic dermatitis or any other condition.

Which shampoo is best for seborrheic dermatitis in children?

A shampoo containing the FDA-approved active ingredient pyrithione zinc (0.95%) is specially formulated to manage symptoms of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis in babies. Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo and Body Wash contain all these features.

What could be the most common cause of seborrheic dermatitis in babies?

The overgrowth of Malassezia yeast could be the most common cause of inflammation, causing changes in the skin.

What are the main ingredients in Happy Cappy Shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis?

The key ingredients in Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo include pyrithione zinc, licorice root, and provitamin B5. These ingredients work together to effectively treat and manage redness, crusting, flaking, and irritation associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

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