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What Is It?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a form of skin inflammation (dermatitis) that causes a red, oily, flaking skin rash in areas of the body where glands in the skin called sebaceous glands are most abundant — the scalp, face and groin. In infants, it primarily affects the scalp, where it is called cradle cap. The causes of seborrheic dermatitis are unclear, but yeast may be involved in some cases.

Although doctors recognize that seborrheic dermatitis occurs in skin areas that have many sebaceous glands, they still do not know exactly why it develops there. It is thought that a tiny yeast may play a role in seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin disorder that affects people who often have no other health problems.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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