Although the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis may be embarrassing, you can easily treat them yourself by practicing good hygiene and using over-the-counter medications [source: Mayo Clinic]. Simply washing frequently with soap will remove oils from affected areas, which will decrease symptoms. Some people with dandruff attribute their itchy scalps to dry skin and don't shampoo often, but not cleaning the scalp regularly can actually worsen the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. This can cause excess oil to build up in the scalp, which creates more scales and causes inflammation.
Using over-the-counter products that contain coal tar or ketoconazole can also help combat seborrheic dermatitis symptoms. Coal tar contains a natural antifungal agent and it reduces itching and inflammation [source: New Zealand Dermatological Society]. Ketoconazole is a synthetic antifungal drug, and both ketoconazole and coal tar combat malassezia, a dandruff-causing fungus. If symptoms are severe, see a doctor because you may need a prescription for a topical steroid [source: Medical News Today]. To treat an infant's cradle cap, wash the infant's hair often using a mild baby shampoo, and consult a doctor because the infant may need an antifungal or corticosteroid medication [source: AAD].
Using a daily antidandruff shampoo that contains selenium sulfide or pyrithione zinc can also be effective in treating scalp scales. You should apply the shampoo to the scalp and leave it on for five to 10 minutes before rinsing. When your symptoms lessen, you can decrease the number of times you use a medicated shampoo to two times a week [source: Johnson]. If you've tried over-the-counter treatments and are still uncomfortable or your skin becomes infected, see a dermatologist [source: Mayo Clinic].
Sometimes seborrheic dermatitis can cause hair loss. Keep reading to learn how common this is and how to treat it.