Seborrheic dermatitis, according to the NHS and current research, is a yeast infection of the scalp, face or upper body which affects between 3-5% of the world’s adults . When it affects the scalp, it is often confused with dandruff, due to common symptoms, such as itching and flaking. However, unlike dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis also causes scalp redness and inflammation .
So if you are experiencing white or yellow oily flakes on your scalp accompanied by redness, inflammation, itching, tenderness, or a dry scalp that causes hair loss, you may have seborrheic dermatitis. While no permanent cure is currently available for seborrheic dermatitis from the NHS or other healthcare services , the good news is that there are treatments that can help keep its symptoms under control.
Keep reading this article to find out all you need to know about seborrheic dermatitis, according to the NHS:
Seborrheic dermatitis is, according to the NHS, an inflammation of your skin which usually manifests with a rash in the areas where you have more sebaceous glands (i.e. glands that produce scalp sebum) , as follows:
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common problem, which affects approximately 3-5% of the global population . It is usually found in adults and is more common in men than in women, likely due to the presence of male sex hormones, such as testosterone and dihydrotestosterone (DHT) .
This condition usually sees three peaks over the course of your lifetime :
While mild and moderate forms of seborrheic dermatitis are frequently encountered, severe forms, including a widespread rash that resists treatment, can indicate that your immune system is weakened by an underlying issue .
So be sure to see a dermatologist or trichologist if you are experiencing a severe scalp, face and/or upper body rash which will not subside with home treatment.
While the causes of seborrheic dermatitis are still not fully understood, most researchers agree that one of the main factors is the presence of a fungus called Malassezia furfur.
This fungus lives on your skin and feeds on its natural oils, but can experience overgrowth and cause inflammation under certain circumstances (e.g. an abundant production of skin oil).
Some other factors which can contribute to a flare-up of seborrheic dermatitis, according to the NHS and current research , are:
However, while in the past there were some theories about this, it has been determined that hygiene and diet are not likely to influence seborrheic dermatitis .
The most common symptoms of scalp seborrheic dermatitis, according to the NHS, are as follows :
On other parts of the body, seborrheic dermatitis may have other symptoms, as follows :
Seborrheic dermatitis often causes an itchy rash on the inner parts of the eyebrows, the creases beside your nose and the parts of your cheek next to your nose. The skin may become red, dry, tender and flaky.
On your back and torso, seborrheic dermatitis can manifest as well-defined round, scaly red patches. They can be itchy, tender and inflamed.
Seborrheic dermatitis usually creates a red, itchy, tender rash in the areas under the breasts, under the arms, in the groin region or in the folds of the abdomen.
The first step you need to take to get treatment for your seborrheic dermatitis on the NHS is to see your GP and get a prescription or a referral to a dermatologist, as needed. However, some of the most common treatments for seborrheic dermatitis symptoms, such as antifungal shampoos, can be bought over the counter, often for under £10 per 100-150 ml bottle.
Unfortunately, at this time, there is no known permanent cure for seborrheic dermatitis, according to the NHS and other healthcare providers. This means that while the symptoms of this condition can be controlled with special shampoos and medication, it is likely that it will flare up again after some time once the treatment is stopped
. However, the good news is that seborrheic dermatitis generally responds well to treatment meant to diminish its symptoms, such as :
If seborrheic dermatitis fails to respond to treatment, it is a good idea to contact a dermatologist or trichologist, as they may need to prescribe a course of oral anti-yeast medication.
At the same time, it is recommended to see your healthcare provider to ensure that you are not experiencing an underlying condition which might be weakening your immune system.
If you are experiencing a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis, you may be interested in treating its symptoms through natural means.
Here are some of the best essential oils for hair that can help by softening the scales and moisturising your scalp, reducing itchiness and scalp irritation and in some cases, their antimicrobial properties (although more research is needed to confirm this):
If not diagnosed by a specialist, it can be easy to mistake other common scalp problems for seborrheic dermatitis, according to the NHS. Here are some of the most common and how you can tell them apart from seborrheic dermatitis:
Ringworm (tinea capitis)
Atopic dermatitis (eczema)
Contact (allergic) dermatitis
If you suspect you may have seborrheic dermatitis, your GP might be able to help you get an initial diagnosis and treatment plan. However, if your symptoms persist even after seeking NHS treatment, there is no need to keep putting up with the constant scalp itching, tenderness and flaking. Book a consultation now with one of our top trichologists and get to the root of the issue.
They will perform a thorough examination of your scalp and remove all doubt regarding your diagnosis. Moreover, they will provide you with personalised treatment, which works best for your specific scalp issue, whether your condition is indeed seborrheic dermatitis or something else.
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