The term eczema covers various skin diseases that are mainly characterized by itching. The word “dermatitis” is often used synonymously instead of eczema. The eczema is triggered by various causes. There is a typical course of certain skin reactions for skin eczema, including reddening of the skin, blistering, oozing, the formation of crusts and the subsequent flaking of the skin. Eczema is one of the most common skin diseases in Germany. Almost everyone suffers from it at least once in their life. In the scalp area, seborrheic eczema is the most common.


The cause of the yellow scales is very likely a yeast fungus, which can also be found on the skin of those who are not affected, but in whose case it is not pathogenic. The name of this mushroom is Malassezia furfur or Pityrosporium ovale. As already said, it is actually one of the germs that occur naturally on the skin.

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In people who suffer from seborrheic eczema, however, the said fungus is found many times more often on the skin than in healthy people. In large numbers, Malassezia ultimately leads to an inflammatory reaction of the skin with reddening and flaking. In this case, the itching varies from person to person and can even be absent. The term "seborrheic" (starting from the sebum glands) also describes that a changed sebum composition contributes to the development of the disease.

Especially people with a weakened immune system often suffer from seborrheic eczema, as it is difficult for them to suppress the unhindered reproduction of the causative skin fungus. This is clear from the fact that a significant percentage of people infected with HIV suffer from the yellowish, scaly eczema.
The climate also has a significant impact on the disease. Dry skin, especially in winter, worsens the condition of eczema, while in summer and when the air is very humid (e.g. by the sea), dandruff decreases.

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  • Psoriasis of the scalp

Figure cause of eczema

Figure eczema on the face: causes (A-E) and alternative treatment (F-H)

Facial eczema
related skin irritation)

  1. Reddening of the skin
  2. swelling
  3. Blistering
  4. Pimples
  5. psoriasis
    A - contact allergies -
    Metallic substances -
    Nickel allergy (earrings,
    A necklace)
    B - types of cosmetics -
    Skin creams, powders, lotions
    C - stress -
    Mental stress,
    (Skin disease)
    or psoriasis
    D - pregnancy -
    atopic pregnancy dermatosis
    (Neurodermatitis, hay fever,
    Bronchial asthma)
    E - toddler -
    (Skin disease),
    Cradle cap (in infancy)
    Alternative treatment:
    F - aromatherapy -
    Oils with intense fragrances
    (Lavender, lemon balm, thyme,
    G - chemical substances,
    vegetable substances
    (Chamomile, sage leaves,
    H - bath therapy,
    Face wraps, steam baths,
    Regions by the sea
    with salty air

You can find an overview of all Dr-Gumpert images at: medical illustrations

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Symptoms of eczema on the scalp

Those affected with seborrheic scalp eczema mainly complain of yellowish, large and greasy-feeling scales. The scalp below the dandruff is red, and some people also suffer from discreet itching. The scalp can also emit an unpleasant odor, as the scales form a good breeding ground for various bacteria and fungi. In seborrheic dermatitis, the hairy scalp and the eyebrows and the areas between and around the nose and mouth are usually affected by yellowish flaking.

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More information about these symptoms:

  • Burning scalp

Therapy for eczema

The fungi on the scalp can be successfully reduced in number with the help of so-called antimycotics (anti-fungal agents). The antifungal agents can be used as a shampoo when washing your hair. At the beginning it is usually necessary to use it several times a day, which can be reduced in frequency if the therapy is successful. Seborrheic eczema affects not only the scalp and beard area, but the skin in general.

Antifungal creams are suitable for these areas. If the skin has a strong inflammatory reaction, antifungal agents are not sufficient as the sole therapy. In this case, a cortisone preparation should also be used to reduce the inflammation and give the affected skin the opportunity to recover and regenerate. For a more precise therapy plan, however, a visit to a doctor is recommended, as he can assess the inflammation situation and take possible concomitant diseases into account in the therapy.

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In the case of eczema on the scalp, appropriate skin care is very important in order to protect the diseased skin as well as possible and thus contribute to healing.

In general, in the case of eczema of the scalp, care should be taken that the shampoo is as gentle as possible on the scalp and that possible irritants such as artificial fragrances or silicones are avoided as far as possible so as not to irritate the affected skin. This applies especially to diseases such as neurodermatitis, which are accompanied by very dry, severely itchy skin.

For seborrheic eczema, which particularly often affects the scalp, there are now special shampoos that have been adapted to the clinical picture. These shampoos have anti-inflammatory effects, for example through urea or salicylic acid, and reduce the formation of flakes on the skin. Shampoos can also be prescribed that contain antifungal agents such as ketoconazole, which act against skin fungi that are suspected to be the cause of seborrheic eczema.

In any case, the origin of the eczema should be clarified with the dermatologist so that he can give individual advice and, if necessary, prescribe pharmacy-only shampoos.

Home remedies

There are various home remedies that can be used to support the treatment of eczema of the scalp. The simplest home remedy is to spend enough time in the fresh air and let the sun shine on the scalp - this is a completely natural remedy for eczema.

Chamomile, aloe vera, Kurkurma and honey also have a calming effect on the skin. Soaked oatmeal should also have an anti-inflammatory effect. Of course, you should only work with home remedies in a supportive manner and consult your family doctor if the eczema persists.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is a popular natural remedy that has been used for a long time. Tea tree oil is anti-inflammatory and antibacterial and can promote wound healing. This can be very helpful and supportive in the treatment of eczema on the scalp. The tea tree oil can be diluted and applied directly to the eczema, but it can also be added to the shampoo.

It should be noted that some people have allergic reactions to tea tree oil. At the first contact you should first test the tolerance on a small area of ​​healthy skin on the arm before you apply it directly to the irritated scalp.

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Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is also popular as a home remedy in the treatment of seborrheic eczema on the scalp and is said to help wound healing.

Many patients report that their skin improves when the vinegar is applied directly. Before using apple cider vinegar, you should consult your doctor, as the acid can additionally irritate damaged skin and can lead to a worsening of the disease. A doctor should be consulted beforehand, especially if the origin of the eczema is not certain.

When is cortisone necessary?

In the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, ointments containing cortisone can also be used. These have an anti-inflammatory effect directly on the skin and can thus lead to the healing of the skin appearance.

However, cortisone is usually only used if the skin is severely affected and only for a limited period of time, as the skin can change under the influence of cortisone. When the time for a cortisone ointment comes is very individual and determined by an experienced doctor. Under no circumstances should cortisone therapy be started on your own!

More on this:

  • Cortisone ointment

Natural Remedies and Homeopathy

Independent treatment without a prior examination and assessment of the current illness situation by a doctor is not recommended. In the worst case, this can worsen the skin condition. In addition, as described in the above sections, eczema often occurs when the body's immune situation is poor, which should be treated anyway.

However, medicinal teas, for example made from nettle or dandelion, can be taken as a drink as a support. Furthermore, various medicinal plants can stimulate the activation of the immune system and promote the healing of the dandruff. These include extracts from Echinacea, propolis and olive leaf extract. Special advice tailored to the illness situation is also advisable in this case.

E.g. Alumina is recommended for dry eczema, Graphites for weeping eczema and menthol, for example, can help with severe itching. The Schüssler salts Silicea or Kalium sulfuricum could also help. An experienced homeopath can offer an appropriate selection of homeopathic remedies, but if the eczema does not improve, medical treatment should not be neglected!

Scalp eczema in babies

Baby seborrheic scalp eczema is colloquially better than Head gneiss known. It occurs in the first few months of life and goes away on its own with time and without treatment. Often it will with Cradle cap, so Neurodermatitis mistaken.
Typically, the head gneiss causes in contrast to the cradle cap no itching. In addition, the cradle cap usually only appears after the third month of life, i.e. later than the head gneiss.

The cause of seborrheic eczema in the newborn is largely unknown. It is believed that Hormonesthat the child during the pregnancy recorded via the mother play a role in the creation.
The hormones stimulate sebum production, the excessive tallow in turn leads to a clumping of dead skin cells, which then become visible as dandruff.

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Since the head gneiss does not cause the child any symptoms and does not cause any permanent damage, therapy is usually not necessary.
After bathing, the dandruff can be combed out of the hair with a shampoo suitable for babies, with the help of a soft brush, insofar as it is perceived as visually disturbing.

What is the risk of infection?

The seborrheic eczema represents no risk of infection for outsiders. The triggering skin fungus is also found on the skin of healthy people. The faulty sebum productionthat contributes to the development of the disease is individual and genetically conditionally.


Diagnosis is usually based on the typical appearance in the form of yellowish scales on the reddish, eczematous skin. In uncertain cases, however, it can make sense to rule out other, similar-looking skin diseases that also occur in the same localization in the scalp area by means of further diagnostic steps. One of these diseases is the psoriasis, technically referred to as psoriasis.

The Autoimmune disease is noticeable through whitish scales on the scalp, elbows and knees. Seborrheic dermatitis typically does not manifest itself at the last two locations mentioned. In addition, the scales are not whitish, but yellow-greasy.

If a diagnosis cannot be made with certainty, it is possible to take a small sample of the skin (biopsy) under local anesthesia and examining them under the microscope.

In children, neurodermatitis should always be considered, which typically also manifests itself in the head area. In contrast to the Neurodermatitis, seborrheic eczema does not cause itching in babies. Accordingly, in the case of neurodermatitis, scratch marks are very often found on the child's skin.


The seborrheic eczema of the infant usually heals without any residue within weeks to a few months. In adults, especially those with immunodeficiency, there is a chronic, i.e. permanent, course or a relapsing disease activity No rarity.

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