Dermatitis is one of the most common types of skin diseases.. It is an inflammation that affects the dermis and epidermis, and the alterations it generates in the appearance of certain parts of the body can present different patterns.

However, within this group of dermatological diseases we find two that occur with special frequency: seborrheic dermatitis and atypical dermatitis.

Throughout this article we will see what these skin affectations are, and we will also learn to distinguish them from a list of differences between atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis.

Characteristics of these skin diseases

Let us begin by briefly explaining what each of these skin diseases consists of.

What is seborrheic dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is an alteration characterized by the appearance of parts of the skin that turn a reddish colour and flake offThis is followed by cycles in which the symptoms alternate between one phase of onset and another in which they disappear or leave almost no trace.

Normally, the affected parts of the skin are on the head, especially the scalp and face. In addition, seborrheic dermatitis can cause itching.

Seborrheic dermatitis
A case of seborrheic dermatitis.

What is atopic dermatitis?

Atopic dermatitis, on the other hand, is another skin disease in which certain parts of the skin become dry.swollen and cracked, with a reddish color. This usually leads to itching and small lesions with some bleeding, partly caused by the habit of scratching.

On the other hand, this skin disease is also characterized by the succession of cycles of outbreak and remission.
This type of dermatitis occurs mostly in areas of thin skin that cover the joints or moving parts, such as the skin around the eyes, the inside of the elbows, and so on.

Atopic dermatitis

Differences between atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis

These are the main differences between atopic dermatitis and seborrheic dermatitis:

1. Seborrheic dermatitis causes desquamation

One of the most distinctive features of seborrheic dermatitis is that the epidermis is detached from small patches of dry skinlike it’s dandruff. This does not occur in atopic dermatitis.

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2. Atopic dermatitis leads to dryness

Another way to distinguish between these skin diseases is to look at the degree of dryness. of the skin. If it has a dry, contracted appearance with long cracks, it is much more likely to be atopic dermatitis.

Seborrheic dermatitis can offer the image of dryness only when there are many plates of skin about to come off, but even in these cases we will see that underneath the dead skin and around it there is a glossy, oily film. This is because, as the name implies, seborrheic dermatitis is associated with the production of a lot of sebum by the skin glands.

3. Atopic Dermatitis Produces Long Cracks

As a consequence of dryness and skin contraction, atopic dermatitis leads to cracks in the affected areasas if the epidermis were parchment-like.

In seborrheic dermatitis, on the other hand, there are no long cracks; the closest thing to these are the short cracks that occur around the skin plates about to detach, and which are never almost straight lines.

4. Seborrheic dermatitis doesn’t cause as much bleeding.

While atopic dermatitis damages and weakens the skin in a way that it is normal to see blood spots, in seborrheic dermatitis this is rarer and only occurs in very extreme outbreaks.

5. Seborrheic dermatitis occurs from the chest up

Atopic dermatitis occurs in parts spread throughout the body, the area of appearance of the areas affected by seborrheic dermatitis is more concentrated. Specifically, it occurs mostly in the head, and occasionally, in very severe cases, also in the chest and upper back.

6. Extended atopic dermatitis has more relief

In general, the atopic dermatitis covers more extension altering sensibly the relief of the skin.. Although seborrheic dermatitis is also capable of structurally altering the relief of the skin, it tends to do so in smaller and more concentrated pockets of affectation, especially on the scalp and forehead.

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What can you do to fight the symptoms?

Currently, there is no cure to make seborrheic dermatitis and atopic dermatitis completely disappear.. However, there are treatments to mitigate your symptoms and delay the onset of outbreaks.

These treatments consist of creams that help moisturize the skin or allow it to be cleansed without further irritating the parts where discomfort and itching appear. In addition, a healthy lifestyle and living in areas with little pollution seems to help a lot.

On the other hand, it is important to use a shampoo that adapts to the type of skin disease you have: by using an anti-dandruff shampoo, symptoms will go away, and in fact, certain products can aggravate the intensity of the outbreak.

It is very important to go to the doctor so that he can make an adequate diagnosis and make the pertinent recommendations analyzing individually the characteristics and the context of each patient.

Bibliographic references

  • Brenninkmeijer, E.E.; Schram, M.E.; Leeflang, M.M.; Bos, J.D.; Spuls, P.I. (2008). Diagnostic criteria for atopic dermatitis: a systematic review. The British Journal of Dermatology. 158(4): pp. 754 – 765.
  • Gupta, A.K.; Richardson, M.; Paquet, M. (2014). Systematic review of oral treatments for seborrheic dermatitis. Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology : JEADV. 28 (1): 16-26.
  • Janniger, C.K., Schwartz, R.A. (1995). Seborrheic dermatitis. American Family Physician. 52 (1): 149 – 55, 159 – 60.
  • Ooi, E.T., Tidman, M.J. (2014). Improving the management of seborrhoeic dermatitis. Practitioner. 258 (1768): pp. 23 – 26.
  • Varothai, S.; Nitayavardhana, S.; Kulthanan, K. (2013). Moisturizers for patients with atopic dermatitis. Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol (Revision) 31 (2): pp. 91 – 98.