When a person presents with features of both psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis (SD), a healthcare professional may diagnose sebopsoriasis. This is a chronic skin condition that has symptoms that resemble both conditions.
Sebopsoriasis presents as a red or purple rash with yellow, greasy scales. The rash typically appears within skin folds and on the face, scalp, and chest.
Sebopsoriasis may flare up multiple times throughout a person’s life. Although there is no cure for the condition, a range of treatment options can help alleviate the symptoms.
This article highlights how sebopsoriasis differs from seborrheic dermatitis (SD) and psoriasis. It also lists the risk factors for developing sebopsoriasis and outlines the available treatment options.
Sebopsorisis symptoms overlap with those of SD and psoriasis.
Symptoms of psoriasis include patches of skin that are thick and raised. On white skin, these plaques appear as red patches covered in silvery-white scales. On black skin, the plaques appear darker and thicker and tend to be gray or purple.
Learn more about a psoriasis rash here.
SD typically occurs on oily areas of skin, such as the face or scalp. Adults with SD will have scaly patches on the skin that appear to be greasy or moist.
Learn how SD and psoriasis differ here.
Similar to SD, the scales that develop due to sebopsoriasis tend to affect the areas of skin that have a lot of sebaceous glands. These glands produce sebum, an oily substance that covers the surface of the skin.
Both SD and sebopsoriasis affect the scalp, face, and chest. The scales are also greasy.
Similar to psoriasis, the lesions are more well-defined compared to those of SD. However, the rashes have fewer scales than psoriasis-lesions.
In some cases, a doctor may change the diagnosis from sebopsoriasis to SD or psoriasis, depending on how a person responds to treatment.
Because sebopsoriasis shares symptoms with psoriasis and SD, a doctor will pay close attention to what the rash looks like and where it appears on the body.
A sebopsoriasis rash may be red or purple with a clearly defined border. Thick, yellow, greasy scales accompany the rash.
Location on the body
A person may notice a sebopsoriasis rash on one or more of the following areas:
- the scalp
- the eyebrows
- the indentations between the cheek and nose
- areas behind the ears
- the middle of the chest
Sebopsoriasis may also affect areas of the body where there is a lot of friction, such as skin folds.
The scaly plaques associated with sebopsoriasis are due to a build-up of the protein “keratin.” Coal tar is a topical medication that helps to break down keratin, thereby reducing scaliness.
Before using coal tar, a person should do a patch test to see if they experience any skin irritation. A patch test involves applying a small amount of the product to the skin on the inside of the wrist and waiting 24 hours to check for any reaction.
Learn more about coal tar here.
Salicylic acid is a topical product that helps remove scales on the skin. If a person is applying salicylic acid to the scalp area, they should do so sparingly. Applying too much product could weaken the hair shafts, resulting in temporary hair loss.
People should also be aware that salicylic acid can reduce the effectiveness of another sebopsoriasis treatment called calcipotriol. If using both products, a person should apply each one at different times of the day.
Learn about other treatments for scalp conditions here.
If a rash is causing discomfort and itching, a person can try using over-the-counter (OTC) products containing one or more of the following ingredients:
If a person experiences skin irritation after using these products, they should stop using them and speak to a doctor.
There is a variety of treatments a person can use to clear up sebopsoriasis, including:
Emollients soften the skin and prevent it from cracking. Emollient creams that treat psoriasis incorporate ingredients that help break down keratin and prevent the growth of bacteria. A person can buy these products OTC or with a prescription, depending on the strength.
Learn more about using emollients for psoriasis here.
A healthcare professional may prescribe topical antifungal medications, including:
- zinc pyrithione
However, the above topical antifungals are more effective at treating SD than psoriasis. As a result, topical antifungals may not always be an effective treatment option. A person may benefit more from a combination of topical corticosteroids and ketoconazole shampoo.
Some people may benefit from oral antifungal agents, such as itraconazole.
Learn all about the uses of ketoconazole shampoo here.
A topical corticosteroid is a medication that a person can apply to their skin to reduce inflammation. Manufacturers add corticosteroids to many topical products, including:
People should only use potent formulations at the beginning of their treatment and switch to weaker products as their skin heals.
It is important only to use mild corticosteroid creams and washes to treat sebopsoriasis on the face.
Learn about corticosteroids here.
Calcipotriol is a synthetic form of vitamin D. It is an anti-inflammatory that reduces scaling in psoriasis and sebopsoriasis. Importantly, doctors do not recommend applying calcipotriol to the face.
Phototherapy is a type of dermatological therapy that involves exposing the skin to light. Doctors tend to reserve phototherapy for treatment-resistant sebopsoriasis.
People should note that phototherapy using ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation is often not an effective treatment for sebopsoriasis because it usually affects areas of the skin that already receive a lot of UVB exposure from the sun, such as the scalp and face.
Learn about phototherapy for psoriasis here.
Systemic medications enter the circulatory system and have the potential to affect the entire body. People may take systemic medications orally, in the form of pills or liquids.
A doctor may prescribe the following systemic medications:
However, healthcare professionals rarely prescribe the above medications to treat sebopsoriasis. Instead, these medications treat severe psoriasis.
A healthcare professional may only prescribe systemic medications to someone with sebopsoriasis if they also have generalized psoriasis.
Learn about the differences between systemic and topical medications here.
Sebopsoriasis affects people across all age groups. However, it tends to present more in childhood and adolescence and also in people over 50 years. Sebopsoriasis is also more common among males than it is among females.
A person’s genes could also increase the chance of developing sebopsoriasis, as the condition tends to run in families.
Doctors are not sure what causes sebopsoriasis. However, inflammation appears to play an important role in the condition, as it increases cell turnover and skin scaling.
Factors that could affect the severity of sebopsoriasis include:
- having a weakened immune system
- certain neurological or psychiatric conditions, such as Parkinson disease
There is no cure for sebopsoriasis. The condition tends to flare up and go back into remission throughout a person’s life. Sometimes it may evolve into psoriasis.
When a person experiences a flare-up, they should get in touch with a doctor as soon as they notice symptoms appearing. The sooner a person receives treatment, the better the outcome.
Sebopsoriasis is a chronic skin condition characterized by a red or purple skin rash and yellow scaling of the skin. The condition shares symptoms with psoriasis and SD.
There is no cure for sebopsoriasis. However, there are plenty of OTC treatments and prescription medications that can help to alleviate symptoms, such as scaling and inflammation.
A person with sebopsoriasis may experience multiple flare-ups of the condition throughout their lifetime. People should contact their doctor as soon as they notice a flare, as prompt treatment can reduce the length and severity of symptoms.