Suffering from Red, Dry, Flaky Skin?


My husband has a red, dry, and flaky patch of skin on both cheeks and a similar rash in the beard area and sideburns that will not go away. He is retired and plays golf three days a week. I cannot seem to get him to wear sunscreen. Is this just dry skin and sun damage?


I am jealous that he gets to play golf three times a week! He should be applying sunscreen at least one hour prior to playing and reapplying after nine holes. As a general rule, we under apply sunscreens, which is why I recommend a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or greater and prefer one that contains either micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

His skin problem sounds like seborrheic dermatitis rather than dry skin. Dry skin should be eliminated with a moisturizer. Seborrheic dermatitis is a common, scaly rash that affects the face and scalp. Dandruff is seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. Other commonly affected areas are the eyebrows, eyelashes, ears, and skin near the nose, sideburns and beard area. It can affect skin fold areas such as the armpits, groin, and buttocks, as well as the mid-chest and back areas. The cause is unknown, but appears to worsen with stress, illnesses, surgery, and significant weather changes; but it is not contagious. It can appear at any age and tends to run in families.

There is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis; however, there are topical treatments. Based on the area of the body involved, medicated shampoos and topical solutions are available for scalp seborrheic dermatitis. On the skin of the face and ears, over-the-counter cortisone cream is available for twice-daily application as needed. Cortisone cream applied to limited areas of the skin do not affect you general health.

Once seborrheic dermatitis is under control, begin to taper the cortisone cream usage until it is being used only as needed for the presence of the rash. It may be possible to stop the medication completely, but it can be resumed on an as-needed basis. Seborrheic dermatitis can be a chronic, recurrent dermatitis requiring periodic treatment. If seborrheic dermatitis is not controlled with medicated shampoos and over-the-counter topical medications, evaluation by a dermatologist is required. There are prescription medications to treat seborrheic dermatitis that can be used with the evaluation and supervision of a dermatologist.

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