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Treatment for Seborrheic Dermatitis of the Back, Chest, and Skin folds

By Cynthia Bailey MD.

Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the back, chest and skin folds

Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the back, chest and skin folds is rarely talked about. The most familiar type of seborrhea is scalp dandruff. However, the scalp is not the only part of your skin prone to seborrhea. You can have seborrhea on your face, in your ears, along your eyelash line and on your body. And yes,

the upper back and chest are commonly affected by dandruff if your scalp and face have signs of dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis). - Dr. Bailey

What is seborrheic dermatitis of the body skin?

Seborrheic dermatitis can involve the body skin in and around:

  • the back and chest,

  • the folds of your armpits,

  • the groin, and

  • even in the crack between your buttocks.

What does body seborrhea look like?

The skin shows redness, tenderness and itching. This is especially true if seborrhea is in skin folds. On the back and chest the rash often looks red and dry yet the skin may feel greasy and waxy. 

Yep, dandruff is a much bigger problem than you are led to believe from dandruff shampoo commercials.

Dermatologist’s Treatment Tips for Dandruff on the Upper Back and Chest

treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the back, chest and skin folds

On the upper back and chest dandruff is often slightly pink and scaly. The skin is often greasy. Dandruff must be differentiated from tinea versicolor, which can look similar but has a different treatment. I treat back and chest dandruff the same way that I treat scalp dandruff – by using medicated shampoos.

The most effective product to treat back and chest seborrhea is Foaming Zinc Cleanser applied with a Salux Cloth.

Allow the medicated lather to remain in contact with the affected skin for 5 minutes before rinsing well. If this single medicated cleanser is not able to control the body seborrhea then rotate active ingredients as I instruct for scalp dandruff here.

Dermatologist’s Treatment Tips for Dandruff of the Body Folds

Any fold of the body skin can harbor dandruff. This includes arm pit folds, groin or buttocks folds, neck folds, lower abdominal folds, folds under the breasts – these are all fair game for seborrhea. I treat seborrhea of the body folds with medicated Foaming Zinc Cleanser in the shower. I have my patients apply the cleanser during the bathing process and allow the medicated lather to remain on the skin for a few minutes before rinsing off well. If the cleanser irritates the skin fold then consult a physician for prescription treatments as skin within skin folds is highly sensitive. Other helpful advice for preventing redness of the skin folds include:
  • Drying the skin well after the bath or shower. Towel off excess water then use a warm or cool blow drier to completely remove all moisture.
  • Wear cotton clothes that breathe well and consider placing clean cotton cloth in the affected fold to prevent the skin from touching.
  • Lotrimin Cream (clotrimazole) can be helpful to reduce skin yeast germs that can aggravate inflammation. I typically tell my patients to apply this medicated cream twice daily for 2 to 4 weeks. (If no improvement is seen, consult a physician.)

Find the type of seborrhea (dandruff) that you have and click below to see the routine I recommend in my dermatology practice:

Treatment for scaly, itchy, "dry scalp" from dandruff

Treatment for crusty ears from dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis)

Treatment for "dry" redness and scale in the eyebrows, on the nose, and on the face from seborrhea

Treatment for eyelash line redness and scale from seborrhea (seborrheic blepharitis)

Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the back, chest and skin folds (this article)