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Seborrheic dermatitis in Infant/Neonate
See also in: Anogenital,Hair and Scalp
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed

Seborrheic dermatitis in Infant/Neonate

See also in: Anogenital,Hair and Scalp
Contributors: Kimberley R. Zakka MD, MSc, Whitney A. High MD, JD, MEng, Nnenna Agim MD, FAAD, Susan Burgin MD
Other Resources UpToDate PubMed


Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory disease in areas rich in sebaceous glands, usually the scalp, face, and postauricular, presternal, and intertriginous areas. It may be localized or disseminated. It has a bimodal distribution, with peaks at ages 2-12 months (infantile seborrheic dermatitis) and in adolescence and early adulthood.

Infantile seborrheic dermatitis usually manifests in the second week of life and lasts 4-6 months. It has no racial / ethnic or sex predilection. It characteristically presents on the face, diaper area, and folds of the neck and axillae.

The pathophysiology of infantile seborrheic dermatitis is not well known. However, many factors have been postulated to influence its development. Maternal androgens, transferred to the baby in utero, are thought to result in overactive sebaceous gland activity. In addition, the yeast Malassezia has been implicated.


L21.9 – Seborrheic dermatitis, unspecified

50563003 – Seborrheic dermatitis

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Differential Diagnosis & Pitfalls

The most difficult diagnoses to separate from infantile seborrheic dermatitis are Atopic dermatitis and Diaper irritant contact dermatitis. Atopic dermatitis more often involves the scalp, cheeks, and extensor surfaces and is associated with a family history of other atopic conditions (Asthma, Allergic rhinitis). It is usually accompanied by moderate-to-severe pruritus that interferes with sleep and feeding, whereas infantile seborrheic dermatitis is asymptomatic. Irritant contact dermatitis (Diaper irritant contact dermatitis) caused by the irritant effects of urine and feces typically spares the deep body folds for lack of contact with the skin.

Psoriasis is extremely uncommon in neonates and infants. However, familial and genetically determined forms of psoriasis and other psoriasiform dermatitis do characteristically present with infantile psoriasis involving a similar distribution. The scaling is thicker in nonoccluded areas and plaques are better defined.

When localized in the diaper area, dermatoses to consider besides irritant contact dermatitis:
  • Diaper dermatitis candidiasis
  • Infantile psoriasis – consider in those with particularly difficult-to-remove scales; examine the patient in locations characteristic for psoriasis
  • Allergic contact dermatitis
  • Tinea cruris - rare in infancy
  • Intertrigo
  • Langerhans cell histiocytosis
  • Scabies
  • Kawasaki disease
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Hereditary acrodermatitis enteropathica
  • Lichen sclerosus
  • Perianal streptococcal infection
  • Early congenital syphilis

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Drug Reaction Data

Below is a list of drugs with literature evidence indicating an adverse association with this diagnosis. The list is continually updated through ongoing research and new medication approvals. Click on Citations to sort by number of citations or click on Medication to sort the medications alphabetically.

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Last Reviewed:03/07/2023
Last Updated:04/06/2023
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Patient Information for Seborrheic dermatitis in Infant/Neonate
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Seborrheic dermatitis in Infant/Neonate
See also in: Anogenital,Hair and Scalp
A medical illustration showing key findings of Seborrheic dermatitis : Erythema, Fine scaly plaque, Pruritus
Clinical image of Seborrheic dermatitis - imageId=144205. Click to open in gallery.  caption: 'Thin scaly plaque in the post-auricular fold.'
Thin scaly plaque in the post-auricular fold.
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