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June 12, 2024

Seborrheic Dermatitis VA Rating Explained

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The VA rates seborrheic dermatitis under 38 CFR § 4.118, Diagnostic Code (DC) 7806 for dermatitis or eczema, which is evaluated under the General Rating Formula for the Skin, with ratings of 0%, 10%, 30%, or 60% based on the severity of symptoms, percentage of the body affected, and type and duration of treatment required.

Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory condition that primarily affects areas of the skin with a high density of sebaceous (oil) glands, such as the scalp, face, and upper body, presenting as red, scaly, itchy patches and can cause significant discomfort and social embarrassment.

Pro Tip: When filing a VA claim for seborrheic dermatitis, it’s crucial to document the extent of body coverage and the type and duration of treatments. Upload pictures of your skin condition at claim submission for the C&P examiner and VA Rater to view. It’s the best way to prove you have seborrheic dermatitis and the severity of symptoms.

Summary of Key Points

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis VA Rating: The VA rates seborrheic dermatitis under 38 CFR § 4.118, Diagnostic Code (DC) 7806 for dermatitis or eczema, with ratings ranging from 0% to 60% with breaks at 10% and 30% based on the severity of symptoms, percentage of the body affected, and type and duration of treatment required.
  • Condition Overview: Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that mainly affects areas rich in sebaceous (oil) glands, such as the scalp, face, and upper body. It manifests as red, scaly, and itchy patches, leading to significant discomfort and social embarrassment.
  • Factors That Impact Your VA Rating: Your final VA disability rating for seborrheic dermatitis depends on the frequency, severity, and duration of symptoms and how they negatively impact your work, life, and social functioning. Documenting the extent of body coverage and the type and duration of treatments with comprehensive medical evidence is crucial.
  • Upload Photographic Evidence: When filing your claim for seborrheic dermatitis, you should document the extent of body coverage and the type and duration of treatments. Uploading pictures at claim submission for the C&P examiner and VA Rater to view can be the best way to prove you have seborrheic dermatitis and the severity of symptoms.

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that primarily affects areas of the body with a high density of sebaceous (oil) glands. This condition commonly manifests as red, scaly, itchy patches on the skin, particularly on the scalp, face, and other oily regions such as the sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, and chest.

Key Characteristics

  • Location: It typically affects the scalp (where it is commonly known as dandruff in milder cases), face (especially around the nose, eyebrows, and ears), upper chest, and back.
  • Symptoms: The symptoms include flaky scales, red skin, and persistent dandruff. The affected areas might also appear greasy or oily.
  • Itchiness: It can cause mild to severe itching and discomfort.
  • Flare-Ups: The condition often goes through cycles of improvement and flare-ups. Flare-ups can be triggered by stress, cold and dry weather, and certain medical conditions or medications.

Causes

The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not fully understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to its development:

  • Malassezia Yeast: A type of yeast found on the skin that can overgrow and cause inflammation.
  • Genetics: A family history of the condition can increase the risk.
  • Immune System Response: An abnormal immune response may play a role.
  • Environmental Factors: Weather changes, particularly cold and dry conditions, can trigger flare-ups.
  • Hormones: Seborrheic dermatitis often appears in infants (as cradle cap) and can flare during puberty, suggesting hormonal involvement.

Treatment

Treatment typically involves managing symptoms through various methods:

  • Topical Treatments: These include antifungal creams, medicated shampoos, and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation and control yeast growth.
  • Oral Medications: In severe cases, oral antifungal or anti-inflammatory medications might be prescribed.
  • Hygiene and Skin Care: Regular washing with gentle shampoos and cleansers, and avoiding harsh soaps and skincare products.

Prognosis

  • Seborrheic dermatitis is a long-term condition that can be managed effectively with the right treatment regimen, although it may require ongoing care to control symptoms and prevent flare-ups.

Impact on Quality of Life

  • The chronic nature of seborrheic dermatitis and its visible symptoms can affect a veteran’s quality of life, leading to discomfort, embarrassment, and social or psychological stress.

How to Prove Service Connection for Seborrheic Dermatitis

To receive VA disability benefits for seborrheic dermatitis, veterans must establish a service connection and demonstrate the severity of their symptoms.

#1. Current Diagnosis of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Obtain a Current Diagnosis: Ensure you have a medical diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis from a healthcare professional.

Documentation: This diagnosis should be documented in your service treatment records, VA medical records, or private treatment records.

Recent Diagnosis: While it’s helpful to have a diagnosis within the past 12 months, it is not mandatory.

Medical Records: Gather medical records from your doctor that clearly document the diagnosis, including any relevant evaluations and treatments.

#2. In-Service Event, Injury, Disease, Illness, or Exposure

Provide Evidence: Submit evidence of an event, injury, disease, illness, or exposure during military service that could have caused or aggravated seborrheic dermatitis.

Detailed Records: Collect service medical records, incident reports, and personal statements detailing the in-service occurrence.

Examples: This could include exposure to harsh environments, stressful conditions, physical trauma, or use of certain medications during service.

Establish a Medical Nexus: Link the current diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis to the in-service event or injury.

Nexus Letter: Obtain a Nexus Letter from a qualified medical professional. This letter should explain how the in-service event likely caused or aggravated seborrheic dermatitis.

#4. Severity of Symptoms

Provide Medical Evidence: Show the severity and impact of seborrheic dermatitis symptoms on your work, life, and social functioning.

Detailed Records: Maintain detailed medical records and personal statements documenting the frequency, severity, and duration of your symptoms.

Impact Description: Describe how seborrheic dermatitis affects your daily activities and any treatments or interventions you require.

VA Secondary Service Connection for Seborrheic Dermatitis

To establish a secondary service connection for seborrheic dermatitis, veterans need to demonstrate that their seborrheic dermatitis is caused or aggravated by another service-connected condition.

Here’s some common conditions that can cause or aggravate seborrheic dermatitis in veterans:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Chronic stress and anxiety associated with PTSD can exacerbate seborrheic dermatitis symptoms. The body’s stress response can trigger inflammation and disrupt the skin’s barrier function, leading to more frequent or severe flare-ups of seborrheic dermatitis. The link between stress and seborrheic dermatitis is well-documented, with stress hormones potentially increasing oil production and yeast growth on the skin, both of which can aggravate the condition.

Depression and Anxiety

High levels of stress, anxiety, and depression can significantly affect the immune system and skin health. Psychological stress can alter immune responses and increase inflammation, which can trigger or worsen seborrheic dermatitis. Anxiety and depression can also lead to behaviors such as poor hygiene or scratching, further exacerbating skin conditions.

Other Skin Conditions

Conditions such as psoriasis or eczema can aggravate seborrheic dermatitis. The presence of multiple skin conditions can complicate treatment and management, as the symptoms and triggers of one condition may overlap with or exacerbate the others. Managing these conditions concurrently requires careful coordination and treatment planning to avoid worsening skin health overall.

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis can disrupt the immune system and lead to or aggravate seborrheic dermatitis. These disorders cause systemic inflammation and immune dysregulation, which can manifest as or exacerbate skin conditions. The immune system’s overactivity in these conditions can lead to increased skin cell turnover and inflammation, worsening seborrheic dermatitis.

Parkinson’s Disease

Seborrheic dermatitis is more common in veterans with Parkinson’s disease. The condition is thought to be linked to changes in the skin’s sebaceous glands and immune response associated with Parkinson’s disease. These changes can lead to an overgrowth of yeast on the skin, which is a known factor in seborrheic dermatitis.

Neurological Conditions

Other neurological conditions that affect the body’s autonomic functions can also impact seborrheic dermatitis. Conditions that affect the body’s regulation of oil production and skin turnover can lead to or worsen seborrheic dermatitis. These conditions may require specialized treatment to manage both the neurological and dermatological symptoms effectively.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormonal changes or imbalances, such as those experienced during puberty, pregnancy, or with certain endocrine disorders, can trigger seborrheic dermatitis. Hormones can influence oil production in the skin, leading to conditions that favor the growth of yeast and subsequent skin inflammation.

Environmental Factors

Exposure to harsh environmental conditions, such as extreme cold or heat, can aggravate seborrheic dermatitis. Dry, cold weather can lead to skin dryness and irritation, while hot, humid conditions can increase sweating and oil production, both of which can exacerbate seborrheic dermatitis symptoms.

VA Disability Rating for Seborrheic Dermatitis

VA ratings for seborrheic dermatitis fall under 38 CFR § 4.118, Diagnostic Code (DC) 7806, which also applies to eczema and similar skin conditions, and has ratings that range from 0% to 60% with breaks at 10% and 30%, depending on the extent of the body affected and the type and frequency of treatment required.

60% Rating Criteria

  • Seborrheic dermatitis with characteristic lesions involving more than 40% of the entire body or more than 40% of exposed areas; or constant or near-constant systemic therapy such as corticosteroids, phototherapy, retinoids, biologics, or other immunosuppressive drugs required over the past 12-month period.
  • The 60% rating criteria, which is the highest scheduler rating for seborrheic dermatitis, reflects extensive symptoms that are widespread and require continuous aggressive treatment.

30% Rating

  • Seborrheic dermatitis with characteristic lesions involving 20% to 40% of the entire body or 20% to 40% of exposed areas; or systemic therapy such as corticosteroids, phototherapy, retinoids, biologics, or other immunosuppressive drugs required for a total duration of 6 weeks or more, but not constantly, over the past 12-month period.
  • The 30% rating indicates moderate severity with significant body coverage and periodic need for systemic treatment.

10% Rating

  • Seborrheic dermatitis with characteristic lesions involving at least 5% but less than 20% of the entire body or at least 5% but less than 20% of exposed areas; or intermittent systemic therapy such as corticosteroids, phototherapy, retinoids, biologics, or other immunosuppressive drugs required for a total duration of less than 6 weeks over the past 12-month period.
  • The 10% rating reflects mild to moderate severity requiring occasional systemic therapy.

0% Rating

  • Seborrheic dermatitis with characteristic lesions involving less than 5% of the entire body or less than 5% of exposed areas; and no more than topical therapy required over the past 12-month period.
  • The 0% rating criteria accounts for very mild symptoms, requiring only topical treatment and affecting a small area.

Pro Tip: When applying for a VA disability rating for seborrheic dermatitis, it’s crucial to document the extent of the body affected and the type and duration of treatments. Ensure you have comprehensive medical evidence, including treatment records, to support your claim. Photos of the affected areas can also help substantiate the extent and severity of the condition, influencing the rating decision.

Additional Notes:

  • Complications and Separate Ratings: Complications from seborrheic dermatitis, such as infections or other clinical manifestations, should be rated separately under the appropriate diagnostic code.
  • Functional Impact: The final VA disability rating also considers how the symptoms impact your daily life, work, and social functioning.

About the Author

Brian Reese
Brian Reese

Brian Reese

Brian Reese is one of the top VA disability benefits experts in the world and bestselling author of You Deserve It: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Veteran Benefits You’ve Earned (Second Edition).

Brian’s frustration with the VA claim process led him to create VA Claims Insider, which provides disabled veterans with tips, strategies, and lessons learned to win their VA disability compensation claim, faster, even if they’ve already filed, been denied, gave up, or don’t know where to start. 

As the founder of VA Claims Insider and CEO of Military Disability Made Easy, he has helped serve more than 10 million military members and veterans since 2013 through free online educational resources.

He is a former active duty Air Force officer with extensive experience leading hundreds of individuals and multi-functional teams in challenging international environments, including a combat tour to Afghanistan in 2011 supporting Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.

Brian is a Distinguished Graduate of Management from the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO, and he holds an MBA from Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business, Stillwater, OK, where he was a National Honor Scholar (Top 1% of Graduate School class).

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