Differences between Seborrheic Dermatitis (Seborrhea) and Psoriasis

Differences between Seborrheic Dermatitis (Seborrhea) and Psoriasis

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What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic (as pronounced ‘seb-o-REE-ik’) Dermatitis or Seborrhea is a sort of a common skin problem which occurs mainly on the scalp. It results in rough patches, excess dandruff, and red skin. It requires treatment to make it go away or sometimes it goes away by its own. Seborrheic Dermatitis often also occur on the other oily regions of the body, for example, the face, sides of the nose, eyelids, ears, chest, and eyebrows.

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a sort of a skin condition which speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It results in making the skin cells to grow more rapidly and causes excess skin cells to collect on the surface of the skin. These excess skin cells then form red and rough patches on the skin which are itchy and painful.

Psoriasis is a common skin problem that usually goes away by its own. Its main treatment is to put a halt on the excess skin growth that forms so rapidly. Psoriasis repeatedly comes and goes. It has no specific cure to it. But however, we can manage the symptoms that come from it. 

Differences in their appearance

Seborrheic Dermatitis and Psoriasis both occur on the scalp region, so this is one of the reasons people confuse them. One of the key differences between them is between their appearances. Seborrheic Dermatitis looks yellowish and feels greasy, whereas Psoriasis looks shiny and has a silver color to it. 

Differences in their symptoms   

It is really crucial to understand the differences in the symptoms of between these two skin conditions so that proper treatment can be taken.

Seborrheic Dermatitis Symptoms:

Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis grows mainly on the scalp and also sometimes on the face, nose, ears and other oily areas. It can cause rough yellow scales or crusty white flakes on the scalp and face area especially. The skin gets red and swells up causing it to burn and itch.

Psoriasis Symptoms:

Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis occurs not just only on the scalp, but also on other areas of the body, for example, elbows and armpits and even nails.  Psoriasis causes red patches on the skin. These patches are thick, rough and are silvery. Skin dries up and gets cracked causing bleeding. Person may feel heavy itching, soreness or burning. The nails get thick, uneven or ridged. Joints such as the elbow or the knees get stiff and swollen.

Psoriasis can affect through cycles. Showing up for weeks and months and then coming back again after subsiding. Or even it can just go away completely. Psoriasis has many several types. The types are Plaque Psoriasis, Guttate Psoriasis, Inverse Psoriasis, Pustular Psoriasis, and Erythrodermic Psoriasis.

Plaque psoriasis – Plaque psoriasis can cause red and raised patches to build up with silvery patches. The red lesions (plaques) can be itchy and painful and can occur at any area of the body including the genitals or the soft tissue inside the mouth. This is the most usual kind of Psoriasis.

Guttate psoriasis – It is a very rare sort of psoriasis. It occurs mainly with children or young adults. These are caused by bacterial infections, for example- strep throat. These look like small, dotted, water- drop shaped lesions occurring on the trunks, arms, legs, and scalp. Only about 10 percent of people grow this type of the skin condition.

Inverse Psoriasis – Inverse psoriasis mainly grows in the armpits, around the genitals or under the breasts. This type of psoriasis looks red, silvery and smooth that harm the skin folds. This kind of condition is triggered mainly because of fungal infections, Also, due to inverse psoriasis; the skin also gets prone to more fungal infections or yeasts.

Pustular Psoriasis – This is another type of uncommon psoriasis which affects the smaller areas, for example, on the hands, the fingertips or feet. This develops quickly due to pus being gathered surrounded by red skin. Pustular psoriasis comes and goes frequently.

Erythrodermic Psoriasis – This is the most rare and critical type of psoriasis. The Erythrodermic Psoriasis can cover the entire body with red rashes that burns like fire. The rashes can peeled off and are very itchy as well.

Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis and Psoriasis

Till date, scientists have still not found the exact reason for Seborrheic Dermatitis. However, scientists know that hormones and genes play a very big role in this.

The causes for Seborrheic Dermatitis are- heavy stress, changes in the hormone, chemical reactions, long-term illness, solvents, excessive soap, strong detergents, dry weather and unusual behavior micro-organisms of the skin.

Other diseases such as HIV or AIDS which harm the immune system can act as catalysts to make the symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis even more worse.

Parkinson’s, disease which affects the nervous systems may also make conditions grow worse.      

The exact reasons for Psoriasis are also still unknown to scientists, but similarly, genes and hormones play roles to influence the situation.  In the case of Psoriasis, the skin cells start growing at an excessive rate compared to others who don’t have this skin condition and this causes unusual lesions to grow.

Also, many fungal infections or bacterial infections can also cause these conditions. Researches have also confirmed that heart diseases, diabetes, stress, and depression have relations with Psoriasis and all its types.

Risk Factors

Seborrheic Dermatitis can affect people of any age. It is seen to be more common in men rather than women.

There are some factors which increase the risk of developing Seborrheic Dermatitis. Such as, depression and Parkinson’s disease, weakened immune system such as cancer or HIV or AIDS, recovering from heart attacks; all these are risk factors of this type of skin condition.

Psoriasis can affect men and women both equally. It is seen to affect more commonly in African Americans or white Americans. In case of Psoriasis, the person is at a greater probability of having growing more diseases. For example, Psoriatic arthritis, Eye disorders, Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes, Cardiovascular Diseases and many more.

Psoriasis can affect people of any age even though it is seen more often in the age range of 15 to 35. In very uncommon cases, it is seen to affect children or young adults.


Treatments are available for both Seborrheic Dermatitis and Psoriasis. But the treatments for them have differences and can also vary from person to person depending on the type.

Treatments for Seborrheic Dermatitis:

For a normal case Seborrheic Dermatitis, it can be treated using antifungal creams or sometimes medicated shampoo also helps, for example, ketoconazole, coal tar, selenium sulfide. For critical cases, treatment requires corticosteroids. These decrease inflammation.

Though, corticosteroids should not be used for people who had already used it previously for a long time.

In such cases, topical calcineurin inhibitors are used. Oral antifungal medications are used for more severely critical cases of Seborrheic Dermatitis.

Treatments for Psoriasis:

It is generally recommended to use tar products and salicylic acid for treating normal or mild scalp psoriasis.

For more severe Psoriasis treatments, topical treatments are required, such as anthralin, calcipotriene, Talconex, and tazarotene. People usually need to use several treatments in order to figure out which one is the best for them and why.

UV rays are also used many times for Psoriasis treatment. However, UV rays are used in very special circumstances when treating the area around the genitals as the skin there may get damaged by excessive exposure to UV rays.        

To know more about Ayurvedic Treatment for Psoriasis Click HERE

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