Alternative medicine

By Mayo Clinic Staff

One theory about why Malassezia yeast may be a factor in seborrheic dermatitis is that the yeast's own life processes change the balance of oils on your skin. In susceptible people, this may trigger a reaction. There's some evidence — although nothing's been proved — that applying certain oils that make your skin softer and more supple (emollients) may offer some relief.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil was found to be more effective against seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp than a look-alike inactive treatment (placebo) in one small study. But seborrheic dermatitis went away completely in only one person using tea tree oil and one person using the placebo. No one in this study experienced side effects from using tea tree oil, but other studies suggest that tea tree oil can sometimes trigger an allergic reaction. Tea tree oil may also have a whole-body effect on certain hormones.

Fish oil supplements

There's also some evidence that taking fish oil supplements, which contain omega-3 fatty acids, may help seborrheic dermatitis. Although taking up to 3 grams of fish oil per day is generally considered safe, fish oil can cause "fishy" burps, nausea and diarrhea. At high doses, it may slow your blood's ability to clot and increase your risk of internal bleeding.

It's always a good idea to check with your doctor before adding any alternative treatment to your health management strategies.

Jun. 16, 2011