Seborrheic dermatitis in infants, its signs and treatment

The main features of the disease
Causes of seborrheic dermatitis in infants
Symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis in infants
Treatment of seborrheic dermatitis in infants
Traditional medicine tips
Prevention of skin disease
Treatment predictions
Useful tips for parents

The main features of the disease

The upper layer of the skin is subjected to inflammation, and when it becomes chronic, irritation occurs, and flakes form. This kind of pathology occurs on the skin with a more dense location of the sebaceous glands.

The main provocateurs of seborrheic dermatitis in kids are yeast-like fungi, which are a component of the microflora of the skin. Fungi (Malassezia restricta, Malassezia furfur, and Malassezia globosa) prefer a more nutritive environment. And the sebaceous glands are exactly what is found around.

Under normal regulatory functions of fungal populations, the epidermis responds normally to their presence. As for newborns, their fragile bodies cannot withstand the irritating effects of polyunsaturated acids secreted by fungi.

Causes of seborrheic dermatitis in infants

So far, the results of the research do not make it possible to reveal the etiology of the disease. Although the reasons for its appearance are determined:

  • Hereditary symptom: a feature of the body is transmitted to change the chemical composition of the secretion produced by the sebaceous glands. Thus, a condition is inherited in which fertile soil is created for the development of dermatitis. The child inherits a tendency to increased secretion, so excess sebum interferes with the normal operation of the protective function of the epidermis.
  • The stage of hormonal background formation. In the postembryonic period, the baby’s blood contains hormones received from the mother at the time of intrauterine development. Their presence activates the function of the sebaceous glands, which provokes hyperfunction or hyperplasia.
  • Weak immunity gives the “green light” to the sebaceous glands presented on the skin in the form of spores. Lipophilic fungi (Malassezia furfur) multiply, causing inflammation on the skin. With reduced local immunity, the sebaceous glands go into hyperfunction mode and produce a huge amount of secretion. Such bursts of fungal activity contribute to the failure of the natural process of dead cells’ rejection. They retain on the skin, glued with excess oil, forming on the body. In particular, scales and flaky crusts appear on the head of the baby.
  • Secondary immunodeficiency means an infection of the fetus during its development.
  • Disruption of the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract due to the lack of necessary vitamins and trace elements for normal metabolism, as well as due to dehydration of the body.
  • Fatty, spicy, fried and sweet foods should not prevail in the diet of a nursing mother. With artificial feeding baby should make the right choice of baby food.
  • Seborrhea can be caused by infectious diseases carried by the baby inhibit immunity.
  • Acceptance of antibiotics, glucocorticoids.
  • Dysbacteriosis, as a result of intestinal microflora violation.
  • Failure to comply with hygienic requirements for the care of a newborn.
  • The use of detergents containing allergenic components when bathing and washing the baby’s head. As a result of the destruction of the protective layer on the skin of the infant, the intensified work of the sebaceous glands is activated.
  • Keeping the child in excessive heat significantly increases sweating. This happens more often in the autumn-winter period when parents make an unforgivable mistake wrapping the child as warmly as possible.
  • Dry and hot air of the room where the baby lives.

All these reasons are provocateurs of seborrheic dermatitis in infants. It is enough to eliminate them or prevent them, and the child can easily cope with the illness in a natural way. Its body gradually adapts, the work of all organs and systems returns to normal, and seborrheic dermatitis does not threaten it.

Symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis in infants

The main manifestation of this disease is oily layers of yellowish-white color, which are located in the parietal region of the infant’s head (fontanelle). The same scaly formations can be on the eyebrows, forehead, cheeks, as well as in the ear areas. Less commonly, they appear on the breast of a newborn.

This skin disease can occur in various forms of severity:

  1. In cases of mild degree dandruff is observed on the head of the baby. The scales are easily separated with a soft scallop. The skin remains healthy. It is painless, there is no itching, the baby is calm.
  2. The average severity of the disease is characterized by the appearance of more extensive areas of damage. The layers are denser, scales turn into brown crusts. After their removal, the skin reddens, an inflammatory process is noticeable. At this stage, seborrhea covers not only the hairy part, but it also appears on the chest and on almost the whole body.
  3. A severe degree is characterized by the presence of a huge scaly cortical layer. The head of the baby is covered with a so-called “cradle cap”. After removal of the layers, foci of erosion form on the skin of the child. All this is accompanied by itching and painful sensations. The baby sleeps poorly, gaining weight slowly, becomes restless and whiny. In this form, secondary infection is possible.

In the first stage, the disease can pass by itself, without medication. It is enough to follow the recommendations of the doctor about proper feeding and proper care for the newborn.

The second degree of the disease will require medical assistance, as a result of which a positive prognosis of full recovery is guaranteed.

The most severe form can lead to unpleasant consequences in the form of hair follicles lesion. The baldness of certain areas of the head or alopecia can occur as well. But after intensive therapy, hair growth can be restored.

In this photo, seborrheic dermatitis of the parietal part of the newborn’s head is well recognized.

seborrheic dermatitis of the newborn's head
Seborrheic dermatitis on baby’s scalp

However, the most dangerous is the probability of secondary infection with streptococcus or staphylococcus. Considering the fact that the veins on the head are connected to the vessels of the brain through anastomoses, appeared abscesses on the skin can cause such serious diseases as encephalitis or meningitis.

Official medicine defines several types of seborrhea:

  • Wet — allocation of an extra secret due to excessive activation of the sebaceous glands.
  • Dry — insufficient production of sebum.
  • Mixed — on some parts of the skin of a baby, the secret is released above the norm, on others — below such norm.


Seborrheic dermatitis in infants
Seborrheic dermatitis in infants

A pediatrician diagnoses seborrheic dermatitis on the body of a baby through visual examination of skin lesions. The main symptoms are the location of yellowish scales or crusts on the scalp.

Flaky, fine-lamellar scales on eyebrows and other parts of the face have a white hue.

If the appearance of pathological changes in the skin is in doubt, it is necessary to consult a dermatologist. Dermatoscopy can be used for the diagnosis, which allows a more detailed study of the affected foci. Next is the microscopy of tissue scales and crusts.

Differential diagnosis will be needed if dermatitis does not pass in the first year of a child’s life. In this case, allergic or atopic dermatitis or psoriasis can be diagnosed.

Treatment of seborrheic dermatitis in infants

The first stage of dermatitis in babies does not require the use of drugs. The main method of treatment is to create comfortable conditions for the child. This is, first of all, the normal air temperature and sufficient humidity, as well as compliance with the rules of hygiene. Diet is also important, you have to provide the child with the necessary vitamins and minerals. In cases of nursing mothers, healthy nutrition is needed. With artificial nutrition, a careful selection of infant formula and the correct dosage are obligatory.

While seborrhea is in charge, baby carries out procedures that help cleanse the skin of scales and crusts:

  1. Before water procedures (60 minutes), it is necessary to lubricate the affected parts of the body with warm vegetable oil (olive, petroleum jelly, burdock, castor, sterilized sunflower oil) and wear a cotton hat. After bathing, remove the crusts with a soft brush. Such procedures are performed with regularity of 1 time per week until all scales disappear.
  2. Shampoos with antifungal effect are allowed to use for no more than two times a day, for 7 days. Ionil, Sebulex, Nizoral are among this group.
  3. Creams that have a drying effect are used on the recommendation of a doctor (Zinc cream, Bioderma, Freederm).
  4. To eliminate seborrheic dermatitis on the face of an infant, anti-inflammatory and antifungal remedies are used (Bioderma Sensibio DS+cream). It is applied on dry skin with a thin layer, it is not necessary to wash it off. This tool helps to enhance the synthesis of sebum.
  5. Kid’s cream is applied at night. The next morning, wash the infant’s hair with a special shampoo for children, then gently comb it.
Preventive skin care for babies
Preventive skin care for babies

Approximately in half a year or a year the illness will recede and will not leave a trace. Although sometimes it happens that seborrhea hides in the body for up to three years.

A severe stage of the disease requires medical therapy using antibiotics or other drugs.

If the above-listed measures did not give a positive result, and the scales not only did not disappear, but papules and/or vesicles appeared, a second consultation with a doctor and differential diagnosis will be needed.

Traditional medicine tips

Nature gives us many useful plants with the help of which you can get rid of seborrheic dermatitis. However, any use of folk remedies is advisable only after consulting with the doctor, especially if it concerns the health of the child.

Roots infusion

The roots of burdock, Inula (15 g each), several inflorescences of St. John’s wort are mixed. One tablespoon of the obtained mass is filled with 250 g of boiling water and infused in a thermos for about 8 hours. Then filtered infusion is rubbed into painful areas after bathing.

Sage infusion

20 grams of dried sage leaves are taken for one glass of water; boil this mix for 15 minutes. Allow it to cool down and apply in the form of lotions on the places affected by dermatitis.

Oak bark

One glass of boiling water and 25 g of oak bark are mixed together. After a three-hour infusion, pass it through the filter and rub into painful areas of the skin.

Flower mix

One tablespoon of the collection of chamomile, calendula and crushed leaves of plantain (in equal shares) are placed in a thermos, filled with boiling water (1.5 cups). Wait for three hours, then rub the places affected by seborrheic dermatitis.

Before using folk remedies, it is necessary to consult a doctor who will advise testing for the individual tolerance of a particular remedy. To do this, just swab the prepared infusion and attach it to the wrist of the infant. After 24 hours, check the condition of the skin. If there is no redness, it means that such a folk remedy is suitable for use.

Judging by the opinions of those who used such home remedies, they can indeed have a positive effect, but you need to make the right choice, after consulting with your doctor.

More information about the use of alternative medicine can be found in forums where people interested in curing seborrhea of ​​newborns communicate. Here you can find reviews, different opinions to help make the right decision.

Prevention of skin disease

As we’ve already figured out, in cases of seborrheic dermatitis, it is worthwhile to take preventive measures seriously:

  • During pregnancy, it is very important to avoid stressful situations, maintain a mobile, healthy lifestyle, follow the diet which contains foods with vitamins and beneficial microelements for the normal development of the unborn baby.
  • The hygiene of the child’s body.
  • Water procedures should be carried out only with the use of the hypoallergenic means.
  • Indoors, keep the baby’s head open. During the walk, do not wrap excessively to prevent overheating of the skin.

Treatment predictions

If the nature of seborrhea occurrence on the head of a baby and other parts of the body is physiological in nature, the forecasts are comforting. The disease leaves naturally without medical treatment. As noted above, it is enough to follow the recommendations for creating an appropriate environment and caring for the baby.

There is considerably less optimistic about recovery from congenital seborrheic dermatitis. In such cases, it is quite difficult to achieve positive results. It is hard to correct the inherited genetic predisposition to such a disease. It is impossible to completely get rid of it. But still, you can prevent severe forms. To do so, contact a dermatologist periodically.

Useful tips for parents

A nursing mother should strictly monitor their nutrition. It is necessary to reduce to minimum fatty foods, whole milk, and dairy products with a high percentage of fat. Do not eat bakery products, sweets, other dishes containing high levels of carbohydrates.

While feeding with ready-made formulas, do not buy cheap ones.

To reduce the amount of bathing, it is enough to change diapers more often. Do not abuse the wearing of extra blouses and caps, so as not to cause excessive sweating and not provoke the appearance of such an unpleasant pathology of the epidermis.

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