How is seborrheic dermatitis diagnosed?

Updated: Nov 13, 2020
  • Author: Marc Zachary Handler, MD; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
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Answer

The diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis is usually made on clinical grounds, based on a history of waxing and waning severity and by the distribution of involvement upon examination.

A skin biopsy may be needed in persons with exfoliative erythroderma, and a fungal culture can be used to rule out tinea capitis, though tinea capitis is rare in adults. Dermatopathologic findings of seborrheic dermatitis are nonspecific and typically include the following:

  • Hyperkeratosis

  • Acanthosis

  • Accentuated rete ridges

  • Focal spongiosis

  • Parakeratosis

See Workup for more detail.


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