Role of Antifungal Agents in the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Abstract

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.

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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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Gupta, A.K., Nicol, K. & Batra, R. Role of Antifungal Agents in the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis. Am J Clin Dermatol 5, 417–422 (2004). https://doi.org/10.2165/00128071-200405060-00006

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Keywords

  • Itraconazole
  • Azole
  • Antifungal Agent
  • Terbinafine
  • Lanosterol