Seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp

BMJ Clin Evid. 2015 May 27;2015:1713.


Introduction: Seborrhoeic dermatitis affects a variable proportion of the general population, ranging from 3% to 10%. Malassezia yeast species (previously referred to as Pityrosporum) are thought to be the responsible organisms, and cause inflammation by still poorly defined mechanisms. Seborrhoeic dermatitis tends to relapse after treatment.

Methods and outcomes: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of topical treatments for seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp in adults? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library, and other important databases up to November 2013 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically; please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Results: We found 14 studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.

Conclusions: In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following interventions: bifonazole, ciclopirox, ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, tar shampoo, terbinafine, and topical corticosteroids (betamethasone valerate, clobetasol propionate, clobetasone butyrate, hydrocortisone, mometasone furoate).

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Dermatitis, Seborrheic / drug therapy
  • Dermatitis, Seborrheic / therapy*
  • Humans