Red, scaling patches, most frequently on the scalp, face, ears, chest, and genitals, are symptoms of seborrhea. Some people have the patches symmetrically on both cheeks, in what is called a “butterfly” distribution. Many people simply have seborrhea on the scalp, where it is referred to as dandruff.
Seborrhea has no specific cause, generally involves only the skin, and, at least when severe, is usually cared for by dermatologists. Seborrhea occurs in 50 percent to 80 percent of people with HIV infection. As the infection progresses, seborrhea occurs more frequently and more severely.
The treatment of seborrhea of the scalp is to use shampoos containing coal tar, available without prescription at drugstores. Seborrhea on the rest of the skin can be treated with ointments containing cortisone. Cortisone ointments are available without prescription, but severe or persistent cases of seborrhea are best treated with stronger concentrations of cortisone, which require a prescription.
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