American Journal of Clinical Dermatology

, Volume 5, Issue 6, pp 417–422 | Cite as

Role of Antifungal Agents in the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Aditya K. GuptaEmail author
  • Karyn Nicol
  • Roma Batra
Therapy in Practice


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.


Itraconazole Azole Antifungal Agent Terbinafine Lanosterol 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The authors have no potential conflicts of interest, past funding, consultancies, honoria etc. that are directly relevant to the content of this review.


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© 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

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