Seborrheic Dermatitis vs Seborrheic Keratosis

Seborrheic dermatitis and seborrheic keratosis are both skin conditions that sound very similar. They are often confused for each other, but there are some key differences. Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that can cause a scaly, itchy rash. Seborrheic keratosis is a noncancerous skin growth that occurs more often as people age.

Let’s take a deep dive:

What is seborrheic dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that typically presents as red, scaly patches on the scalp, face, chest and other oily areas of the body. It’s a common and chronic form of eczema/dermatitis that may occur in anyone, but is most often seen in infants as cradle cap and adults with oily skin. There is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis, but it can be managed with proper skin care and medication.

The most common form of seborrheic dermatitis is dandruff, which are actually flakes of dead skin on the scalp. The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown. It is thought to be caused by a combination of factors including genetics, hormones and an overgrowth of Malassezia yeast on the skin. People with certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or HIV are also at increased risk for developing seborrheic dermatitis.

There is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis, but it can be managed with proper skin care and medication. The goal of treatment is to reduce the symptoms and prevent flares.

Some self-care measures that may help include shampooing regularly with a gentle, anti-dandruff shampoo, using a moisturizing cream or lotion on the affected areas, avoiding harsh irritative skincare products, and reducing stress.

Medications that may be prescribed by a doctor include topical antifungals, corticosteroids, calcineurin inhibitors, and oral antifungals.

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What is seborrheic keratosis?

Seborrheic keratosis is a common, harmless skin growth. It often appears as a raised, scaly patch that is either the same color as your skin or slightly darker. Seborrheic keratosis can occur anywhere on your body, but it is most commonly found on the chest, back or shoulders. Seborrheic keratoses are usually asymptomatic (not causing any symptoms). However, they can sometimes be itchy or sore.

The exact cause of seborrheic keratoses is unknown. However, they are thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Sun exposure is thought to be a major contributing factor.

Most seborrheic keratoses do not require treatment and will eventually disappear on their own. However, if they are bothersome or causing pain, there are several treatment options available. These include cryotherapy (freezing), laser therapy and topical medications.

There are even several home remedies that you can try to get rid of seborrheic keratosis. These include applying apple cider vinegar, banana peel, castor oil or aloe vera gel to the affected area. You can also try exfoliating the area with a loofah or scrubbing brush. It’s worth trying because these home treatments are harmless enough but truth be told, they are not very effective.

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You should see a doctor if the growths are painful, bleed easily or change in appearance. You should also see a doctor if you have any concerns about them.

Similarities between seborrheic dermatitis and seborrheic keratosis

Both seborrheic dermatitis and seborrheic keratosis are benign skin conditions that are not pre-cancerous. They also tend to occur in the same body areas, mainly the face, neck, and upper torso. 

Due to the visibility of these areas, both can be a source of embarassment and can make you feel self-conscious. It’s easier to cover up seborrheic dermatitis with makeup but not so much seborrheic keratosis. 

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Differences between seborrheic dermatitis and seborrheic keratosis

As you can see, there’s plenty of differences between seborrheic dermatitis and seborrheic keratosis and only a few similarities. They are two separate conditions that has no links whatsoever. There is obviously much more to it but let’s list down their major differences in table form for ease:

Characteristics Seborrheic dermatitis Seborrheic keratosis
Symptoms red, itchy rash scaly, raised skin growth
Causes Malassezia Skin damage from UV
Major predisposing factors oily skin, Malassezia overgrowth UV light exposure
Treatment anti-fungal ointments cryotherapy, laser therapy
Prevention Reduce sebum production Sun-protective measures

To wrap up

Seborrheic dermatitis and seborrheic keratosis are two very different skin conditions. Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammation of the skin that can be caused by a number of different things, including sebum overproduction, stress, and hormones. Seborrheic keratosis, on the other hand, is a benign growth that usually appears in older adults chronically exposed to UV light. Although they share similar names, these two conditions are not related and should not be confused.

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