That itch on your scalp that has flaky scales could be seborrheic dermatitis or seborrhea A.K.A. DANDRUFF. And it can appear on your body as well as your scalp.

Causes: We don't know what exactly causes seborrheic dermatitis. It seems to be a combination of things, including: 


Your genes

A yeast that normally lives on the skin

Certain medical conditions and medicines

Cold, dry weather

It doesn't come from an allergy or being unclean. 

Newborns and adults aged 30-60 are more likely to get seborrheic dermatitis. It's more common in men than women and in people with oily skin.


Dandruff is a common name for seborrheic dermatitis. You might get seborrheic dermatitis on your face, especially around your nose, in your eyebrows, on your eyelids or behind your ears. It can show up on your body, too: 

In the middle part of the chest

Around the navel

On buttocks 

In skin folds under arms and on legs

In the groin

Below breasts

Skin can itch, burn, or look red. The scales that flake off could be white or yellowish and look moist or oily. Because it can look like other skin conditions, you should see your doctor to get a diagnosis and the right treatment. The dermatologist will ask about your medical history and look at your skin. You may need other tests if the doctor thinks it's related to another medical condition.


Sometimes, seborrheic dermatitis will clear up by itself. More often, it's a lifelong issue that clears and flares. It can last for years at a time, but you can usually control it with good skin care. Adults with seborrheic dermatitis on their scalp can use an over-the-counter dandruff shampoo that contains one of these key ingredients:

Coal tar


Salicylic acid

Selenium sulfide

Zinc pyrithione

Other treatments include: Antifungal productsCorticosteroid lotionsPrescription-strength medicated shampoos Sulfur products Often the best results come from a combination of treatments, both medication, and lifestyle. Work with your doctor if you're using a treatment other than shampoo since there could be side effects, especially if you use it for longer or more often than prescribed. 

If your seborrheic dermatitis doesn't get better, or if the area becomes painful, red, swollen, or starts to drain pus, see your doctor.