You may be able to control seborrheic dermatitis with lifestyle changes and home remedies. Many of these are available in over-the-counter (nonprescription) forms. You may need to try different products or a combination of products before your condition improves.
The best approach for you depends on your skin type, the severity of your condition, and whether your symptoms affect your scalp or other areas of your body. But even if your condition clears up, it is likely to come back at some point. Watch for the symptoms and resume treating the condition when it recurs.
Wash your hair with medicated anti-dandruff shampoo
Try over-the-counter anti-dandruff products, such as:
- Shampoo with pyrithione zinc (Head & Shoulders) or selenium (Selsun Blue), used daily
- Shampoo with the antifungal ketoconazole, used twice weekly, alternating with your daily shampoo
- Tar shampoo (Neutrogena T/Gel, DHS Tar)
- Salicylic acid shampoo (Neutrogena T/Sal), used daily
These shampoos may be especially helpful for dandruff (mild seborrheic dermatitis). If one type of shampoo works for a time and then seems to lose its effectiveness, try alternating between two types. Be sure to leave your shampoo on for the full recommended time — this allows its ingredients to work. These shampoos may be rubbed gently on the face, ears and chest and rinsed off completely.
Other home remedies
The following over-the-counter treatments and self-care tips can help you control and manage seborrheic dermatitis:
May 30, 2014
- Soften and remove scales from your hair. Apply mineral oil or olive oil to your scalp. Leave it in for an hour or so. Then comb or brush your hair and wash it.
- Wash your skin regularly. Rinse the soap completely off your body and scalp. Avoid harsh soaps and use a moisturizer.
- Apply a mild corticosteroid cream. If that doesn't work, try the antifungal cream ketoconazole.
- Avoid products that contain alcohol. These can cause the disease to flare up.
- Wear smooth-textured cotton clothing. This helps keep air circulating around your skin and reduces irritation.
- If you have a beard or mustache, consider shaving it off. Seborrheic dermatitis can be worse under mustaches and beards. If this is the case for you, shaving might ease your symptoms.
- Avoid scratching. Scratching can increase irritation and your risk of infection. Apply hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion to temporarily relieve itching.
- Gently clean your eyelids. If your eyelids show signs of redness or scaling, wash them each night with baby shampoo and wipe away scales with a cotton swab. Warm or hot compresses also may help.
- Gently wash your baby's scalp. If your infant has cradle cap, wash the scalp with nonmedicated baby shampoo once a day. Gently loosen the scales with a small, soft-bristled brush before rinsing out the shampoo.
- Papadakis MA, ed., et al. Current Medical Diagnosis & Treatment 2014. 53rd ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2014. http://accessmedicine.mhmedical.com/book.aspx?bookid=330. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=56050969. Accessed Jan. 20, 2014.
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- Efficacious and safe management of moderate to severe seborrheic dermatitis using clobetasol propionate shampoo 0.05% combined with ketonazole shampoo 2%. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 2012;66(suppl 1):AB50.
- Kim GK, et al. Topical pimecrolimus 1% cream in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology. 2013;6:29.
- AskMayoExpert. Seborrheic dermatitis (adult and pediatric). Rochester, Minn.: Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research; 2013.
- Public health advisory: Elidel (pimecrolimus) cream and Protopic (tacrolimus) cream. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DrugSafety/PostmarketDrugSafetyInformationforPatientsandProviders/DrugSafetyInformationforHeathcareProfessionals/PublicHealthAdvisories/UCM051760. Accessed Jan. 22, 2014.
- Gibson LE (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Feb. 6, 2014.
- Goldsmith LA, et al., eds. Fitzpatrick's Dermatology in General Medicine. 8th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2012. http://www.accessmedicine.com/resourceTOC.aspx?resourceID=740. Accessed Feb. 6, 2014.
- Dessinioti C, et al. Seborrheic dermatitis: Etiology, risk factors and treatments: Facts and controversies. Clinics in Dermatology. 2013;31:343.
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