American Journal of Clinical Dermatology

, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 417–422

Role of Antifungal Agents in the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Therapy in Practice

DOI: 10.2165/00128071-200405060-00006

Cite this article as:
Gupta, A.K., Nicol, K. & Batra, R. Am J Clin Dermatol (2004) 5: 417. doi:10.2165/00128071-200405060-00006


Seborrheic dermatitis is a superficial fungal disease of the skin, occurring in areas rich in sebaceous glands. It is thought that an association exists between Malassezia yeasts and seborrheic dermatitis. This may, in part, be due to an abnormal or inflammatory immune response to these yeasts. The azoles represent the largest class of antifungals used in the treatment of this disease to date. In addition to their antifungal properties, some azoles, including bifonazole, itraconazole, and ketoconazole, have demonstrated anti-inflammatory activity, which may be beneficial in alleviating symptoms. Other topical antifungal agents, such as the allylamines (terbinafine), benzylamines (butenafine), hydroxypyridones (ciclopirox), and immunomodulators (pimecrolimus and tacrolimus), have also been effective. In addition, recent studies have revealed that tea tree oil (Melaleuca oil), honey, and cinnamic acid have antifungal activity against Malassezia species, which may be of benefit in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. In cases where seborrheic dermatitis is widespread, the use of an oral therapy, such as ketoconazole, itraconazole, and terbinafine, may be preferred. Essentially, antifungal therapy reduces the number of yeasts on the skin, leading to an improvement in seborrheic dermatitis. With a wide availability of preparations, including creams, shampoos, and oral formulations, antifungal agents are safe and effective in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis.

Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Dermatology, Department of MedicineSunnybrook and Women’s College Health Science Center (Sunnybrook site) and the University of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Mediprobe ResearchLondonCanada
  3. 3.LondonCanada