How To Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis Naturally

by Anjali Sayee

Hair loss can happen due to many reasons. One of the main causes is seborrheic dermatitis. It is often identified as severe dandruff, but it is not the case. Seborrheic dermatitis is known to affect other parts of the body instead of just the head, like dandruff (1). In fact, it is one of the most common hair problems around the world.

In this article, we break down what seborrheic dermatitis is and its causes, symptoms, and treatments. Scroll down to know more!

What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common type of chronic inflammatory skin disease. It is defined by salmon-colored patches and yellowish-white oily scales on the head. It has two peak occurrences: in the first three months of life and during the 30s-40s (2). It may also occur during puberty.

  • Adult seborrheic dermatitis is characterized by the absence of itching skin.
  • Adolescent seborrheic dermatitis sees mild itching
  • Infantile seborrheic dermatitis is often seen as sharp and distinguished salmon patches. They lead to heavy scaly eruptions that join and form a large lesion.

Affected Areas

  • The affected areas during infantile SB (apart from the head) are often the face, behind the ears, torso, skin folds, and flexible parts of the body (knees, groin, elbows, and armpits).
  • The affected areas during adolescent and adult SB (apart from the head) are the smile lines, eyelids, eyebrows, forehead, around the eyebrows, behind the ears, upper back, and the anterior chest

How Is It Caused?

There is no pin-pointed reason as to how seborrheic dermatitis is caused. It is often linked to overzealous sebaceous glands that produce more oil than required.

Another cause is the heavy growth of the fungus Malassezia furfur that causes dandruff. It is also noticed in patients with less immunity (1), (2), (3).

Sometimes, adult and adolescent SB can be caused due to stress, medication, HIV, Down’s syndrome, and familial amyloid neuropathy.

Symptoms Of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Most of the symptoms are seen in heavy sebum areas (1), (2). The common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are:

  • Distinguished salmon-coloured patches
  • Heavy yellowish white flakes
  • Oily scales
  • Inflamed pink scalp
  • Heavy itching
  • Hair loss
  • Scales falling off showing reddish inflamed skin underneath

Hair loss is not a typical symptom of seborrheic dermatitis, but it can occur if the infection is severe. Another uncommon symptom is pain, which is caused due to the inflamed scalp and flakes (3).

Treatment Of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Infantile seborrheic dermatitis can be resolved with daily use of regular shampoo with or without mild shampoos that are specific for seborrheic dermatitis (4).

Adult and adolescent SB can be solved using:

  1. Topical antifungal creams that inhibit and destroy fungal infections in the affected areas.
  2. Topical calcineurin inhibitors that inhibit the T-enzyme that causes inflamed skin.
  3. Mid-potency corticosteroids are often prescribed to help curb the inflammation.
  4. Medicated shampoos that contain zinc pyrithione and salicylic acid can help reduce the infection.

You might need to use these medical treatments consistently to get rid of the infection and inflamed scalp. They might also cause side effects. Another way to treat seborrheic dermatitis is to use some home remedies. Here is a list of 26 home remedies to treat seborrheic dermatitis and the hair loss caused by it.

Home Remedies To Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair Loss

1. Tea Tree Oil And Aloe Vera

Research shows that 5% of tea tree oil shampoo is very effective in eliminating severe dandruff (5). It works because tea tree oil has antifungal properties that help keep the scalp clean and free of fungal infections.

You Will Need

  • 20 drops of tea tree oil
  • 2 tablespoons of aloe vera gel

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

15 minutes

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients until you get a smooth mixture.
  2. Apply this to your scalp and leave it on for about 15 minutes.
  3. Wash off with cool water and a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

2. Garlic

Garlic is known for its antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. It can also help reduce and remove severe flaking and inflammation of the scalp. A study showed that using dried garlic with shampoo helped remove heavy flaking and scales (6).

You Will Need

  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 2-3 tablespoons of water
  • Cotton pad

Prep Time

5 minutes

Treatment Time

Overnight

Method

  1. Crush a clove of garlic to a pulp and
  2. add two tablespoons of water to it.
  3. Mix well and filter out the garlic solution.
  4. Heat the solution until it is slightly warm.
  5. Apply the solution to the affected areas with a cotton pad. Leave it in overnight.
  6. Wash your scalp with warm water in the morning.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is anti-inflammatory, which is why it is used in the treatment of an inflamed scalp. It is also known to stop flaking like dandruff (7). It is also said to maintain the pH of the scalp, helping to stay healthy and clean.

You Will Need

  • 4 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of water

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Dilute four tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with two cups of water and set the solution aside in a jug.
  2. Shampoo your hair with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.
  3. Follow it up by conditioning your hair.
  4. Once you have rinsed the conditioner out of your hair, pour the apple cider vinegar through it as a final rinse.

How Often?

Once a week.

4. Lemon

A study showed that the antifungal activity of lemon could help reduce flaking (8). Lemon juice or oil can be used to reduce and prevent seborrheic dermatitis.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of pure lemon juice
  • Cotton pad

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

15 minutes

Method

  1. Squeeze out two tablespoons of lemon juice from some fresh lemons.
  2. Using a cotton pad, apply the juice to the affected areas of your scalp.
  3. Leave the lemon juice on for about 15 minutes and then wash your hair with warm water.

How Often?

2-3 times a week

5. Natural Oils

The use of natural oils, like olive oil and coconut oil, can help treat seborrheic dermatitis. Olive oil contains squalene that can help treat skin disorders like seborrheic dermatitis (9). Coconut oil nourishes and moisturizes your hair and scalp (10). Oiling your hair helps spread sebum everywhere and nourishes areas with less oil.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of organic and cold-pressed carrier oil (coconut, olive, jojoba, or almond oil)
  • Towel

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

Overnight

Method

  1. Heat the oil until it is slightly warm. Massage it into your scalp and all the affected areas.
  2. Leave the oil on overnight. You can wrap your hair in a towel to avoid getting your pillows greasy.
  3. In the morning, wash your hair with lukewarm water and a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

6 Aspirin

Aspirin contains salicylates and has anti-inflammatory properties (11). Thus, it can help treat seborrheic dermatitis. It can help soothe the scalp and reduce itching and inflammation (12).

You Will Need

  • 2 aspirin tablets
  • A mild, sulfate-free shampoo

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Crush two aspirin tablets until you get a fine powder.
  2. Add the powder to the amount of shampoo you usually use to wash your hair.
  3. Rinse your hair and then wash it with this aspirin-shampoo mixture.
  4. Leave the shampoo in your hair for a couple of minutes before you rinse it off.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

7. Baking Soda

While your hair might take a while to adjust to the baking soda, it will start to become softer after a couple of uses. This is an amazing alternative to shampoo as it will keep your sebaceous glands from going into overdrive, controlling oil production.

You Will Need

2 tablespoons of baking soda

Prep Time

1 minute

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Rinse your hair with warm water.
  2. Gently massage your wet hair and scalp with the baking soda.
  3. After massaging your hair for a couple of minutes, rinse the baking soda out with warm water.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

8. Oat Straw

Oat straw is an excellent treatment for seborrheic dermatitis (13). It helps relieve itching and reduces inflammation. It also helps reduce anxiety and stress, both of which often worsen dandruff.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of oat straw
  • 2 cups of water

Prep Time

15 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Make an oat straw infusion by boiling two tablespoons of the herb in two cups of water.
  2. Set the infusion aside to cool.
  3. Wash and condition your hair as you normally would.
  4. After rinsing out the conditioner, pour the oat straw infusion through your hair as a final rinse.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

9. Honey

Honey has antibacterial and antifungal properties that help reduce seborrheic dermatitis (14). It also has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe your scalp and speed up the wound healing process.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of raw honey
  • 1 tablespoon of water

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

3 hours

Method

  1. Dilute the raw honey with an equal amount of water.
  2. Apply the diluted honey to the affected areas on your scalp.
  3. Let it sit for about 3 hours and then rinse it off with lukewarm water.

How Often?

3 times a week.

10. Borage Oil

Borage oil contains essential fatty acids that can help combat seborrheic dermatitis (15). It helps nourish and moisturize your scalp while calming oil production and soothing inflammation.

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon of borage oil
  • Cotton pad

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

Overnight

Method

  1. Saturate a cotton pad with borage oil.
  2. Dab it on the affected areas on your scalp.
  3. Leave the oil in overnight, and, in the morning, rinse it out with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo and lukewarm water.

How Often?

3-4 times a week.

11. Vicks VapoRub

Vicks VaporRub is thought to have antifungal properties due to the presence of menthol. It can help get rid of the Malassezia fungi. However, there are no studies to prove these effects, and the rub might make your hair feel greasy.

You Will Need

Vicks VapoRub

Prep Time

1 minute

Treatment Time

Overnight

Method

  1. Apply Vicks VaporRub to the affected areas, as you would any topical ointment.
  2. Leave it on overnight.
  3. In the morning, wash your hair with an extremely mild cleanser.

How Often?

Every other day.

12. Milk Of Magnesia

This treatment helps banish excess grease, preventing the clogging of your pores. It balances oil production while also soothing seborrheic dermatitis. However, there are no scientific studies to prove its effectiveness in cases of seborrheic dermatitis.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of milk of magnesia
  • Cotton pad

Prep Time

1 minute

Treatment Time

Overnight

Method

  1. Dab a tablespoon of milk of magnesia on the affected areas with a cotton pad.
  2. Leave it on overnight.

How Often?

Every day or every other day for two weeks.

13. Chickpea Flour

Curd can help soothe the scalp while chickpea flour can reduce inflammation with its anti-inflammatory properties (16). This is also a popular home remedy for dandruff.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of chickpea flour
  • 1-2 tablespoons of curd

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

30 minutes

Method

  1. Mix the chickpea flour and curd until you get a smooth mixture.
  2. Apply this mixture to your scalp and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  3. Wash the mixture out with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

14. Raspberry

Studies show that raspberry extracts can help in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis (17).

You Will Need

  • 5 tablespoons of dried raspberry leaves
  • 1 liter water

Prep Time

15 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Boil the dried raspberry leaves in a liter of water.
  2. Let it steep for about 15 minutes and then set it aside to cool.
  3. Wash your hair with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.
  4. Pour the raspberry tea through your hair as a final rinse.
  5. Do not rinse your hair any further.

How Often?

1-2 times a week.

15. Chamomile

Chamomile tea has amazing antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties (18). It soothes inflammation and helps reduce itching.

You Will Need

  • 2 tablespoons of dried chamomile
  • 2 cups of water

Prep Time

15 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Boil two tablespoons of dried chamomile in two cups of water.
  2. Let it steep for about 15 minutes. Set it aside to cool.
  3. Wash your hair with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.
  4. Pour the chamomile tea through your hair as a final rinse.
  5. Do not rinse your hair any further.

How Often?

1-2 times a week.

16. Mallow

The mallow herb has healing properties that help soothe skin conditions and reduce inflammation (19). It will also help soften and condition your skin, calming the overzealous sebaceous glands.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of dried mallow
  • 1 cup of water
  • Cotton pad

Prep Time

15 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Boil a tablespoon of dried mallow in a cup of water.
  2. Let it steep for about 15 minutes. Set it aside to cool.
  3. Soak a cotton pad in the solution and dab it on the affected parts of your scalp.

How Often?

Every day or every other day.

17. Cucumber

Cucumber can be extremely soothing on the skin with its cooling properties (20). When combined with curd, it conditions your scalp and balances oil production. It can also help soothe irritation and itching.

You Will Need

  • 1/4 medium-sized cucumber
  • 2 tablespoons of curd

Prep Time

5 minutes

Treatment Time

30 minutes

Method

  1. Blend the cucumber until it gets to a smooth and pulpy texture.
  2. Add some curd and mix well to combine.
  3. Apply this mixture to the affected areas of your scalp and let it sit for about 30 minutes.
  4. Wash your hair with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

18. Calendula

Calendula is known for its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties (21). It helps soothe infections and inflammations on your scalp, calming itching and irritation and boosting scalp health (22).

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of dried calendula
  • 1 cup of water
  • Cotton pad

Prep Time

15 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Boil a tablespoon of dried calendula in a cup of water.
  2. Let it steep for about 15 minutes and set it aside to cool.
  3. Soak a cotton pad in the solution and dab it on the affected parts of your scalp.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

19. Walnut

The leaves of the walnut plant have exceptional antifungal, antiseptic, astringent, and wound healing properties (23). This infusion helps soothe your scalp and heal seborrheic dermatitis.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of dried walnut leaves
  • 1 cup of water
  • Cotton pad

Prep Time

15 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Boil a tablespoon of dried walnut leaves in a cup of water.
  2. Let it steep for about 15 minutes. Set it aside to cool.
  3. Soak a cotton pad in the solution and dab it on the affected parts of your scalp.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

20. Flax Seeds

Flax seeds contain essential fatty acids that not only nourish your scalp and hair but also moisturize them and help prevent dandruff (24). You can also consume flax seeds to boost scalp health.

You Will Need

  • 1/4 cup of flax seeds
  • 2 cups of filtered water
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice

Prep Time

10 minutes

Treatment Time

5 minutes

Method

  1. Boil the flax seeds until the liquid starts to thicken.
  2. Add the lemon juice and let the solution cool. The solution should have a gel-like consistency.
  3. Apply this gel to your scalp and hair. This can also be used in place of a styling gel.

How Often?

Every day.

21. Essential Oils

Essential oils can go a long way in helping treat seborrheic dermatitis (25). The topical application of essential oils, like rose, lavender, lemon balm, or carrot seed, mixed with a carrier oil like coconut or olive oil, will soothe your symptoms and heal your scalp.

You Will Need

  • 3-5 drops of essential oil (rosemary, lavender, rose, or lemon balm)
  • 2 tablespoons of carrier oil

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

45 minutes

Method

  1. Combine the essential oil with the carrier oil.
  2. Heat the oil blend until it is slightly warm.
  3. Apply this blend to your scalp and hair and let it sit for about 45 minutes.
  4. Wash the oil out of your hair with warm water and a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.

How Often?

2-3 times a week.

22. Neem

Neem leaves are one of the most effective remedies against seborrheic dermatitis (26). They have anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties that help heal your scalp.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of ground neem leaves
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame seed oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

Prep Time

2 minutes

Treatment Time

1 hour

Method

  1. Combine the ingredients in a bowl until you get a smooth mixture.
  2. Apply the mixture to your scalp and let it sit for about an hour.
  3. Wash your hair with a mild, sulfate-free shampoo.

How Often?

Every other day.

23. Slippery Elm

Slippery elm is another effective remedy that helps soothe and calm seborrheic dermatitis (26). It contains mucilage that acts as an emollient and soothes the affected area.

You Will Need

A bunch of slippery elm leaves

Prep Time

5 minutes

Treatment Time

15-20 minutes

Method

  1. Grind the slippery elm leaves until you get a smooth paste.
  2. Apply this paste to the affected areas of your scalp.
  3. Allow it to dry. This should take about 15-20 minutes.
  4. Wash off with warm water.

How Often?

Every day.

24. Plantain Leaf

Plantain leaves have astringent, emollient, soothing, and anti-inflammatory properties due to the presence of tannins, mucus, and phenylethanoids (27). Thus, they can help heal seborrheic dermatitis, regenerate damaged cells, and boost hair regrowth.

You Will Need

A fresh plantain leaf

Prep Time

5 minutes

Treatment Time

15-20 minutes

Method

  1. Grind enough of the plantain leaf to get about two tablespoons of a smooth paste.
  2. Apply this paste to the affected areas of your scalp and allow it to dry for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Wash off with warm water.

How Often?

Every day.

While external care and topical application of ingredients are important when it comes to treating seborrheic dermatitis, what you put in your body matters equally. Keep reading to find out what you can consume to relieve seborrheic dermatitis.

25. Sarsaparilla

Sasparilla contains a flavonoid called astilbin that can help reduce inflammation and heal psoriasis lesions (28). Hence, it may also help treat the symptoms of  seborrheic dermatitis.

You Will Need

  • 1 tablespoon of sarsaparilla roots
  • 1 cup of water

Prep Time

15 minutes

Method

  1. Boil the sarsaparilla root in a cup of water.
  2. Let it steep for a couple of minutes. Set it aside to cool.
  3. Drink this concoction.

How Often?

Do this every day.

26. Mango

Mango is rich in vitamins C, A, and B that nourish the scalp and hair and reduce inflammation.

You Will Need

1 mango

Prep Time

2 minutes

Method

  1. Cut and consume a mango.
  2. Optionally, you can include the fruit in other recipes to reap the benefits of all of its nutrients.

How Often?

Every day.

Hair loss due to seborrheic dermatitis is usually short term. When the skin inflammation reduces, your hair begins to grow out normally. Be consistent with your skin and hair care routines even after the symptoms subside so that they do not appear again. Also, keep away from direct sunlight. It is also advisable to use dehumidifiers, which reduce skin irritation and thereby reduce hair fall. Consuming fresh fruits and vegetables, like apples, oranges, and spinach, which are rich in beta-carotene and antioxidants, is recommended. IF the problem persists despite trying these remedies, contact a dermatologist.

Expert’s Answers for Readers Questions

Is seborrheic dermatitis a fungus?

No, seborrheic dermatitis is not a fungus. It is a skin condition that is usually worsened by the presence of a naturally occurring skin yeast called Malassezia.

Can stress cause seborrheic dermatitis?

While stress is a contributing factor, it alone cannot cause seborrheic dermatitis. However, when coupled with excessive oiliness, it can lead to the skin condition.

Are seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff the same thing?

No, dandruff is caused by a fungus called Malassezia furfur. Seborrheic dermatitis can be caused by the same fungus or due to heavy sebum production. Seborrheic dermatitis also has an inflamed bit of the scalp fall out, showing inflamed skin underneath. Dandruff is just white flakes.

Are acne and seborrheic dermatitis the same?

No. Acne is caused by Propionibacterium acnes, while seborrheic dermatitis is caused by an excessively oily scalp.

How long does seborrheic dermatitis last?

Depending on how quickly and consistently it is treated, seborrheic dermatitis can last for weeks, months, and even years.

Can henna increase seborrheic dermatitis?

Using henna can help reduce seborrheic dermatitis. Henna has antifungal properties that can help reduce seborrheic dermatitis (29).

29 sources

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Anjali Sayee

Anjali Sayee is a writer and an introvert. From studying Aeronautical Engineering and wanting to design her own airplane to writing articles on hairstyles, she has been on quite a journey. She believes that hair is one of the key factors that define a woman’s personality. To quote her, “What’s the first thing they do in the movies to show a personality change? Change the hair – because it has a life of its own.” She’s here to help you find the hairstyle you need. This bookworm is a self-professed Wholocker, a talented drummer, and an amateur photographer.
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