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Comparison Between Seborrhoea and Eczema


Seborrhoea and eczema are both inflammatory disorders of the skin. Seborrhoea is featured by redness, lesions, and itching of the skin. Seborrhoea chiefly affects the skin of the face, scalp, and other areas of the body like the pubis and groin. The main symptoms of seborrhoea are itching and a burning sensation of the affected areas. The appearance of yellow or greasy patches on the skin is a distinct characteristic of seborrhoea. The presence of dandruff flakes on the scalp is also a common symptom of seborrhoea. Seborrhoea is mostly prevalent on the inside of the ears, on the forehead, on the eyebrows, and around the nose. The disorder is associated with the dysfunction of the sebaceous gland. The main causes are cold, stress, and hormonal imbalance.

The chief causes are fungal strains of “Malassezia” and a nutritional deficiency of zinc. Malassezia hydrolyze human sebum, which releases a mixture of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids. Saturated fatty acids are taken up by Malassezia, while the unsaturated fatty acids enter the stratum corneum of the skin. Due to their nonuniform structure, they degrade the skin’s barrier function, leading to irritation response and inflammation.

Lack of vitamins (B12, B6, and A), persistence of immunodeficiency diseases like HIV, and neurological disorders like Parkinsonism also lead to seborrhoea. Management includes treatment with antifungals, keratolytics, and steroids. Photodynamic therapy with UVA and UV-B lasers inhibit growth of Malassezia species.

Eczema or dermatitis is indicated by itchy, erythematous, and crushing patches on the skin. Eczema is more commonly referred as “atopic dermatitis” since the predisposing causes are attributed to genetic factors. Dermatitis is chiefly considered as an acute condition while eczema is chiefly considered as a chronic condition. Dryness and recurring skin rashes are typical symptoms of eczema. Areas of temporary discoloration of the skin are also noted in eczema. Eczema can be classified by its location (for example eczema in the hands), by its appearance (discoid eczema), or by cause (varicose eczema). The European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology have classified eczema into allergic-contact eczema and nonallergic eczemas.

The cause of eczema has been attributed to environmental and genetic causes. It is postulated that unusually clean environments predispose an individual to eczema. This is because a clean environment does not provide an opportunity for development of immunity. This leads to increased risk of asthma and allergic conditions, including eczema. Genetic causes include involvement of filaggrin, OVOL 1, and ACTL9 genes. Such genes are responsible for atopic eczema or nonallergic eczema.

Diagnosis of eczema is done through physical examinations, history of a patient, and patch tests. Treatment includes use of moisturizers containing ceramides, while flare-ups are administered corticosteroids. Antihistaminics are generally not recommended.

Brief comparisons of seborrhoea and eczema are explained below:

Features Seborrhoea Eczema
Identity Inflammatory disorder of the skin Inflammatory disorder of the skin
Period of Development Acute Chronic
Chance of Recurrence Low Very high
Common Symptoms Redness, lesions, and itching Itchy, erythematous, and crushing patches on the skin
Clinical Presentation Itching and burning sensation of the affected areas Erythematous and crushing patches with areas of discoloration in the skin
Distinct Clinical Presentation Appearance of yellow or greasy patches on the skin Discoloration of the skin and erythematous patches occur
Common Causes Main causes are cold, stress, and hormonal imbalance. The chief causes are fungal strains of Malassezia. Causes are exposure to clean environment during development and presence of genes like filaggrin, OVOL 1, and ACTL9
Treatment with Steroids Recommended Recommended only during flare-ups; otherwise, moisturizers are recommended
Antibiotics/Medications With antifungal, keratolytics and steroids Moisturizers
Surgical Intervention/Phototherapy Photo-irradiation of Malassezia. No
Aggravated by Immunodeficiency Yes Yes

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References :

[0]Parry, ME; Sharpe, GR (1998). "Seborrhoeic dermatitis is not caused by an altered immune response to Malassezia yeast." British Journal of Dermatology 139 (2): 254-63.

[1]Shams, K; Grindlay, DJ; Williams, HC (Aug 2011). "What's new in atopic eczema? An analysis of systematic reviews published in 2009–2010." Clinical and experimental dermatology 36 (6): 573-7.


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