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Research Letter
October 2012

Use of Olive Oil for the Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis in Children

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Dermatology and Pediatrics, St Louis University School of Medicine, St Louis, Missouri (Dr Siegfried). Dr Glenn was a medical student at the St Louis University School of Medicine and is now with the Department of Pediatrics at Children's Hospital and Research Center Oakland, Oakland, California.

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(10):967. doi:10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.765

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common complaint brought to pediatricians. Also known as “cradle cap” in infants and “dandruff” in adolescents, the condition is believed to be triggered by Malassezia yeasts.1 The natural course correlates androgen-driven excess sebum production: spontaneous improvement by age 1 year and reoccurrence with puberty. Treatment of this condition has supported a billion dollar market for over-the-counter treatments,2 loosely regulated by a Food and Drug Administration monograph.

The Internet provides easy access to several websites that give directions for home treatments. A popular approach is application of oil (olive, vegetable, or mineral), left on for as short as 15 minutes or as long as overnight, followed by brushing to loosen scales, and finally shampooing.3-6