While seborrheic dermatitis is a condition that can affect multiple areas of your body, it mainly affects the scalp. Featuring scaly patches of red skin and dandruff, this condition results in damage to the scalp’s follicles, making it difficult for them to grow thick and healthy hair.
The condition’s name arises from two of its primary pathological features: dermatitis, which results in skin inflammation. And, seborrheic because it tackles cells that feature sebaceous glands. Usually, it arises from puberty onwards, which means it’s a hair loss condition that adults have to manage for a long time.
Due to the inflammation involved, your scalp’s follicles are surrounded by areas of swelling. Because of this, the surrounding blood vessels may struggle to:
- Deliver oxygen and nutrients to help cells and hair thrive
- Remove any toxins that affect hair growth
- Work with antioxidants you consume to enhance hair growth
Around 1-5% of the population suffer from this condition. If you’re immunocompromised by diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, or HIV, the prevalence rises to 34-83%. The rapid rise in incidence amongst those who are immunocompromised suggests that tackling seborrheic dermatitis doesn’t just mean approaching it from the outside; you should manage it from the inside too. Check out this video if you’re interested to learn more about seborrheic dermatitis.
In this article, we’ll discuss why seborrheic dermatitis may result in hair loss, what you can do about it, and your treatment options.
What are the possible causes of seborrheic dermatitis hair loss?
According to the American Hair Loss Association, the hair loss that comes with seborrheic dermatitis is usually temporary. As WebMD states, we’re not sure why the condition arises. However, some of the risk factors include:
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Head injuries
- Chronic fatigue
- Hormonal fluctuations; including puberty and stress
- An increased level of androgen production
The last cause is particularly interesting, as an increased level of androgen production is also associated with conditions such as male pattern baldness. One of the theories behind androgens’ role in seborrheic dermatitis is that it makes the sebum we produce thicker and richer. Cholesterol and triglycerides contribute to this, causing the greasiness you experience. Again, scientific explorations into this area are ongoing, but those triglycerides and cholesterols may work alongside the inflammation to further impede your scalp’s follicles to product thick hair. One way they do this is through acting as a source of nutrition for fungi, which almost definitely make hair growth a struggle when present.
Some recent studies support WebMD’s suggestions. They include:
- One comparing the scalps of those with the condition and those without; This study involved using microscopy, which analyzed the hair cells of the participants. Those without SD and similar conditions had rougher, thicker, and pitting follicles, which aren’t great areas for hair to grow in.
- Another examined the thickness of hair in those with SD; Using atomic microscopy, the study looked at how thick the hair of those with SD was vs. those without it. Unsurprisingly, it found that it was seven times less dense.
Together, both studies support WebMD’s idea that the behavior of your scalp’s follicles and any accompanying yeast could be contributing to your hair loss. Before we move on to solutions, however, we’ll take a look at the symptoms.
What are the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis?
As we’ve already mentioned, seborrheic dermatitis doesn’t just present with scalp symptoms. To distinguish it from conditions such as psoriasis, it may help to learn more about the other symptoms too:
- Facial; You may notice fine scales, with grey and red patches intertwined. They usually appear around your nasolabial folds; the bridge of your nose; your eyebrows, and behind the skin folds of your ear.
- Other areas of your body; Some people encounter small papule-like spots on their chest. Rarely, these papule-like spots turn into flatter rashes, which are similar to rosacea.
-The area between your shoulder blades may feature patches.
-Under your armpit, beneath your breasts, and around your groin can feature patches, which are either like plaques or papules.
- Scalp; On your scalp, you may start noticing dandruff as a mild symptom. Dry pink patches of skin with ill-defined borders often appear, sometimes with yellow tinges. Eventually, you may see a symptom called ‘pruritus,’ which means severe itching. If you respond to this itching, the yellow patches may turn honey colored, which is a sign of infection.
Although it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between SD and conditions such as psoriasis, other differentials such as rosacea don’t usually last as long, nor will they appear around the nasolabial folds. But, if you’re ever in doubt, seek professional advice.
How to treat seborrheic dermatitis and associated hair loss using shampoo
If you’re confident that seborrheic dermatitis is the problem and you want to tackle it head on, shampoos are often the first line of treatment. Fortunately, you don’t need a prescription for one, and there are plenty available online.
- 7-fl. oz bottle of Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo containing ketoconazole 1% to relieve flaking, scaling, and itching caused by dandruff
- This powerful dandruff control shampoo is made with ketoconazole 1%, an effective ingredient that is proven to help fight dandruff outbreaks
- Salon-tested, this dandruff treatment shampoo is specially formulated to be gentle and is safe enough to be used on color-treated, chemically processed and gray hair
- The rich, thick lather of this itchy scalp shampoo rinses clean, leaves hair smelling fresh and helps relieve scalps that are flaky, itchy and scaling
- The freedom will go to your head with our dandruff control shampoo, and by using it just twice a week in between your regular shampoos you'll experience effective dandruff relief
Our suggestion is Nizoral A-D Antidandruff Shampoo. Firstly, it contains ketoconazole, which is an antifungal that tackles the yeast we said loves to thrive around your triglyceride and cholesterol-rich sebaceous glands. In addition to killing the yeast that are preventing your scalp’s follicles from thriving, ketoconazole reduces inflammation, and it doesn’t come with the side effects that accompany long-term steroid use.
While this is one of the pricier products out there, we’d like to highlight that the quality of its ingredients means it lasts longer. You only need to use it twice a week, which means the price comes with longevity.
How to treat seborrheic dermatitis with a cream
If you’re only using a shampoo twice a week, you have five extra days for other treatments. We’d also like to suggest adding a cream such as Puriya, which also tackles conditions such as psoriasis and shingles.
Pruriya aims to soothe inflammation and restore skin to its natural softness. If you have patches of hair loss, this means you can apply it to tackle them, plus it’s suitable for other areas of your skin. It also reduces inflammation, so you are less likely to scratch. With less scratching comes fewer infections, further protecting the integrity of your scalp’s follicles.
It’s also worth mentioning that if the cream doesn’t prove useful within just under six months, you can request your money back. One of its key ingredients is amaranthus, which one study states protect your skin against oxidative stress. As such, you’re preventing pollutants and free radicals from worsening your condition, giving your cells more opportunities to thrive and produce thicker hair.
Add in a natural DIY treatment to reduce seborrheic dermatitis-related hair loss
If you have a lot of dry and itchy areas across your scalp, you can treat them with a DIY treatment that soothes them and has a similar effect to the Pruriya cream we mentioned above. To make the process as simple and as cost-effective as possible, try the following ingredients:
- One jar of organic coconut oil, which has antifungal and antibacterial properties. Combined, these features tackle the fungi that contribute to hair loss and keep bacteria that accompany skin breakages at bay. It also moisturizes your scalp, soothing the itching sensation that comes with the condition.
- 20 drops of tea tree oil, which is an anti-androgenic that can tackle the triglyceride and cholesterol components of the condition.
- One tablespoon of apple cider vinegar, which this study also states combats dozens of bacteria and fungi.
Combine all of the ingredients well in a clean plastic jar and seal it tight. Use the mixture once a week as a moisturizer on your scalp.
Treat seborrheic dermatitis hair loss with your diet
From juicing through to choosing the right types of fruit and vegetables, your diet plays an active role in preventing seborrheic dermatitis from causing hair loss. It can also reverse its temporary effects. This is because many of the antioxidants you find in fruits and vegetables combat the pollutants and free radicals that are harming your scalp’s cellular integrity.
- Forks Over Knives The Cookbook Over 300 Recipes for Plant Based Eating All Through the Year
- Del Sroufe
- Publisher: The Experiment
- Edition no. 1 (08/14/2012)
- Paperback: 368 pages
One particularly useful book for finding guidance is “Forks Over Knives.” As a vegan cookbook, it focuses on vegan recipes only, however, incorporating them into your daily meal regimen means you will:
- Lower your cholesterol levels
- Reduce triglycerides
- Add more antioxidants to your diet
As we’ve mentioned, triglycerides and cholesterol play a significant role in how your scalp’s follicles behave when you have this condition. The book features a lot of smoothies, allowing you to quickly incorporate beneficial recipes into your daily routine.
- The Reboot with Joe Juice Diet Cookbook Juice Smoothie and Plant Powered Recipes Inspired by the Hit Documentary Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
- Joe Cross
- Publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
- Paperback: 256 pages
Another suggestion is “The Reboot With Joe Juice Diet Cookbook.” As a self-designed chef who decided to transform his life after realizing he was desperately unhealthy in his forties, Joe has dedicated many years to finding recipes that combat immune-related diseases. As we mentioned earlier, those who are immunocompromised see a steep rise in their likelihood of developing seborrheic dermatitis-related hair loss. As the recipes in Joe’s cookbook fortify your immune system, they’ll work towards creating a healthier scalp.
Foods you should avoid to treat Seborrheic Dermatitis
On that note, there are foods you should avoid to decrease your cholesterol levels. Fortunately, this means avoiding any that have increased levels of saturated fat:
- Butter and hard kinds of margarine
- Lard and goose fat
- Meat that’s particularly fatty, especially sausages
- Cheeses, yogurts, and milk that contain lots of fat
Don’t eliminate such items from your diet altogether, as they do play a role in helping to build your cell walls. However, you can try to look for ‘good’ alternatives. For example, olive oil, feta cheese, and types of margarine that lower your bad cholesterol. It’s also worth noting that any foods that lower your bad cholesterol shouldn’t act as substitutes for a good diet, as they’ll merely fight an uphill battle.
While seborrheic dermatitis hair loss is a common condition, it is poorly understood. However, with the right approach, you can work towards tackling it. It’s worth remembering that associated hair loss is almost always temporary, which means you should give our recommended treatments your consideration.