Seborrheic dermatitis is the single most common rash of adults. When it occurs in infancy, it is commonly called cradle cap. The adult disease tends to favor the scalp, skin behind the ears, forehead, brows, nasolabial folds of the face, mid-chest area, and the mid-back, producing an itchy, red scaling dermatitis. The scaling in the scalp can be conspicuous, producing impressive dandruff . The cause of this condition is unclear, but it responds well to topical steroids and to topical antifungal creams. Medicated shampoos containing tar, selenium sulfide, and zinc pyrithione are often effective. This condition commonly improves spontaneously but will ultimately recur. There is no cure so treatment must continue indefinitely.
Guidance on prescribing topical steroids reminds practitioners to prescribe the least strong steroid which is effective for the least possible length of time. A balance must be struck between efficacy and reducing adverse effects. Education is crucial to maximise efficacy and reduce adverse effects. Use of printed information may be helpful (including detail of how to use emollients and topical steroids) and education involving practice nurses to help improve efficacy of treatments and information for patients. Examples can be obtained from the British Association of Dermatologists and the National Eczema Society.
"Steroid" is the name given to a chemical compound with a specific structure. In everyday speech, the term steroid is applied to several medications that share this structure; however, these medications have very different uses. Anabolic steroids are a class of drug that mimic the effects of male sex hormones called androgens which stimulate muscle growth and secondary male sex characteristics. They are often abused by bodybuilders and other athletes to build muscle mass and so should be used with caution. When prescribed, oral steroids should be taken as directed. If you come across extra pills that haven't been taken, and are unsure if they are steroids, you can identify the pill based on its physical appearance, information on the bottle, or by consulting a professional.