Your scalp is simply skin.
Anything that helps your skin will heal your scalp
Do you have persistent dandruff on your scalp?
Is your face inflamed, irritated and oily?
Then chances are you may have seborrhoeic dermatitis.
I know because I struggled with this condition for years.
Hi, my name is Heather, and I recently wrote this article for The Naked Chemist.
which documents my long journey in healing my seborrhoeic dermatitis.
It took me years as I experimented with many products until I discovered the protocol that finally cleared my skin.
Here is my winning routine and the process that finally worked — hopefully, it helps you too.
What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?
To understand this condition, I need to get a bit skin sciencey.
Seborrheic dermatitis is related to a fungal yeast, malassezia, which has a relationship with dandruff and thrives on oil-rich areas.
My naturopath explained that malassezia is on everyone — even those with normal, healthy skin.
But on some people, it can get out of hand, causing an inflammatory response, suggesting that something else is triggering the condition.
Research has found that candida, a type of yeast that lives in the intestinal tract, is the culprit.
When our immune system detects candida, it sets up a sequence of events that causes an inflammatory response.
The simplest way I can explain it is to imagine your body’s immune system is an army, and when candida spreads around your body, it is detected as a foreign body.
This army tries to get rid of it by triggering the candida to attack other fungal organisms in your body; this is referred to as cross-reactive recognition and is the principle behind most autoimmune and inflammatory attacks.
My Topical and Internal Routine
If your symptoms are chronic, don’t just fixate on your skin; you need to take a holistic internal and topical approach.
The more complicated your symptoms are, the more you need professional advice.
Working with a naturopath and the Naked Chemist team helped me turn stones over that I had no idea were ever there, such as treating the candida in my gut and not using cream-based products on my skin which can feed the yeast.
Initially, you will find that treatment is trial and error because you’re attacking the root of the problem rather than just eliminating one physical aspect.
The following points were the needle movers that finally helped me get my condition under control:
1. Using the Right Shampoo is Key
There is a relationship between pittosporum dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, so using a shampoo formulated with antifungal medications such as selenium sulfide and zinc pyrithione will help to stabilise your scalp.
Look for shampoos that contain salicylic acid, which acts like a peeling agent to prevent scaling by increasing cellular turnover. I got good results with sea magick mineral shampoo.
With seborrheic dermatitis, your scalp will be oily and scaly, so it’s easy to go overboard with washing, which can cause your scalp to become dry and hair to become brittle. Nizoral shampoo was great for soothing my scalp when it got itchy and flaky.
It’s also wise to remember that the skin on your head is still skin; it’s slightly acidic at a pH of 4, so you need products that don’t disturb the pH to keep your scalp happy and balanced.
The tonic; Philip Kingsley flaky scalp toner is a clarifying treatment that I found effective.
2. Use a Moisturising Mask Weekly
When your skin doesn’t have enough moisture, it can become irritated and flaky.
So treating your scalp is a delicate balance — you need to prevent dryness and use treatments that have natural antimicrobial properties that aren’t stripping,
A weekly moisture treatment helped increase the hydration on my scalp, alleviating the dryness and reducing the itchiness that drove me crazy.
3. Use an Apple Cider Rinse
Using an apple cider vinegar rinse was an additional boost in maintaining the health of my scalp. I found the astringent properties in cider vinegar to be very toning and clarifying.
The natural home remedy I used was a 1:1 ratio of cider vinegar with warm water, and then I thoroughly rinsed my hair with it.
I would sometimes leave this mixture on overnight as a tonic and wash it off in the morning.
4. Implement a Good Skincare Routine
As my seborrheic dermatitis got progressively worse, it crept onto my face, which became oily and irritated.
A good skincare routine helped me get my condition under control.
Samantha and her team were so helpful; they advised me to keep my skincare routine simple and use only gel-based products, not emulsifiers which can feed the yeast.
They advised me to wash the affected areas on my face twice daily with a gentle, zinc-based cleanser containing 2% zinc pyrithione.
Next, I followed up with their balancing gel moisturiser Equilibrium. The antifungal and antimicrobial ingredients helped decrease the malassezia and calm my irritated, inflamed skin. The salicylic and keratolytic ingredients helped the symptomatic scaling and flaking.
If my skin were dehydrated, I would first layer it with H20 hydrating complex for an additional moisture boost.
Treating the Eyebrows
I wanted to mention Seborrheic dermatitis eyebrows because this affected me quite a lot.
I used Neutrogena shampoo twice daily on my brows, patted them dry, and layered them with Equilibrium balancing gel which helped get my flaky eyebrows under control.
5. Diet and Supplements
After addressing the yeast topically, my naturopath looked at my diet and supplement intake to begin to lower the yeast in my gut.
As discussed above, much research now suggests that candida is one of the main drivers behind seborrheic dermatitis.
I was put on a liver detox and anti-candida diet and increased my intake of steamed vegetables and fibre. I eliminated dairy, sugar, alcohol and caffeine from my diet and reduced simple carbohydrates like white rice and flour, as these are all driving factors behind candida overgrowth.
I also took Vitamin E and C supplements daily and a course of anti-yeast supplements to reduce the candida and keep my immune strong.
Poor gut health triggers seborrheic dermatitis, so I took probiotics daily, which helped support the skin-gut connection, ensuring my body had a diverse bacterial population to keep my immune strong.
To Conclude. The naked truth
I created this article to offer hope when dealing with seborrheic dermatitis because I know how debilitating it can be, physically and emotionally.
I’m not claiming that you will be healed or cured if you do this, but I believe my protocol will help.
I also found it helpful to keep a diary, to familiarise myself with the triggers that worsened my condition and the ingredients and products that worked.
Using natural, safe topicals, implementing a healthy diet, working on gut health, stress management, and weekly treatment rituals were the winning combination for me. Today, my seborrheic dermatitis is almost non-existent.
I recommend becoming your own label detective; look for antimicrobial, antifungal and anti-bacterial ingredients like salicylic acid, zinc, urea, and manuka that will balance your pH and help you heal.
I wish you every success as you embark on your healing journey.