Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

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 scalp regularly

If regular shampoo doesn't help with dandruff, try over-the-counter dandruff shampoos. They are classified according to the active ingredient they contain:

  • Pyrithione zinc (Dermazinc, Head & Shoulders)
  • Selenium sulfide (Selsun Blue)
  • Ketoconazole (Nizoral A-D)
  • Tar (Neutrogena T/Gel, DHS Tar)
  • Salicylic acid (Neutrogena T/Sal)

Use a product daily until your signs and symptoms begin to subside, and then use it one to three times a week as needed. Shampoo that contains tar can discolor light-colored hair, so you may want to use other products.

If one type of shampoo works for a time and then seems to lose its effectiveness, try alternating between two or more 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 may help you control seborrheic dermatitis:

  • 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 medicated cream. First try a mild corticosteroid cream on affected areas, keeping it away from the eyes. If that doesn't work, try the antifungal cream ketoconazole.
  • Avoid styling products. Stop using hair sprays, gels and other styling products while you're treating the condition.
  • Avoid skin and hair 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, shampoo facial hair regularly. Seborrheic dermatitis can be worse under mustaches and beards. Shampoo with 1 percent ketoconazole daily until your symptoms improve. Then switch to shampooing once a week. Or shaving might ease your symptoms.
  • 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. If scaling persists, first apply mineral oil to the scalp for a couple of hours.