Topical Non-Pharmacological Treatment for Facial Seborrheic Dermatitis

Dermatol Ther (Heidelb). 2019 Sep;9(3):469-477. doi: 10.1007/s13555-019-00319-0. Epub 2019 Aug 8.


Facial seborrheic dermatitis (FSD) is a chronic and relapsing inflammatory skin disorder occurring in areas of the face rich in sebaceous glands. It clinically manifests as erythematous scaly macules or plaques, often associated with pruritus. Although the pathogenesis of seborrheic dermatitis is not yet fully understood, Malassezia yeast, hormones, sebum levels, and immune response are known to play important roles. Additional factors including drugs, cold temperatures, and stress may exacerbate the condition. Currently, the available treatments do not cure the disease but relieve symptoms. Various pharmacological treatments are available, including antifungal agents, keratolytics, topical low-potency steroids, and calcineurin inhibitors. All of them provide several benefits, but they also have potential side effects. Seborrheic dermatitis tends to have a chronic, recurrent course. To avoid the long-term use of drugs, topical non-pharmacological products such as cosmetics or medical devices may improve clinical outcomes. Products with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory ingredients such as zinc, piroctone olamine, dihydroavenanthramide, biosaccharide gum-2, and stearyl glycyrrhetinate may speed FSD recovery and avoid flare-ups. Finally, the use of specific cleansers, moisturizers, and sunscreens formulated as light creams or gel/creams should be strongly recommended to all FSD patients. We provide a brief review of the most used non-pharmacological cleansers, topical gel/creams, and specific sunscreens in the management of FSD.

Keywords: Cosmeceuticals; Cosmetics; Facial; Medical device; Seborrheic dermatitis; Topical treatment.

Publication types

  • Review