Have you noticed any red, itchy, and scaly rashes on your scalp? If yes, then there are high chances that you may have seborrheic dermatitis. Not just on the scalp, you can also see the symptoms on oily areas of your body, such as the face, upper chest and back.
In this article, we discuss what causes seborrheic dermatitis, its symptoms, and different treatments available to control it. Read on to learn more.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
"If ignored or not treated promptly, the patches from seborrheic dermatitis may grow larger, causing uncontrollable itching. As you pick or scratch at the affected areas, the infection spreads to the internal layers of your scalp skin, resulting in severe hair loss eventually.’’
Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis, also known as seborrheic eczema and seborrheic psoriasis, is a kind of dandruff . It is an inflammatory skin condition that appears in the form of scaly and red patches in areas such as the scalp, face, upper body, etc. where a large number of sebaceous glands  are present.
Though it is not contagious, seborrheic dermatitis is often the result of an autoimmune reaction or an allergy. It is considered chronic, which means it can be controlled with treatment, but not fully cured.
The scalp, face, and chest are the most common sites on the body where seborrheic dermatitis can develop, while around 70%, 88%, and 27% of the cases may have bruises in these areas, respectively. India records more than 10 million cases of seborrheic dermatitis every year.
Who Gets Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Newborn infants younger than 3 months and adults between 30 to 60 years of age are more likely to contract seborrheic dermatitis. It's more common in people with oily skin or oily scalp. Men are prone to suffer from this more than women, also if one has oily or Kapha dominant skin, they have more chances of having seborrheic dermatitis.
What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?
One or more factors from below can contribute to the development and aggravation of seborrheic dermatitis.
1. Auto-immune system response
2. Yeast (fungus) called Malassezia  that feeds on the sebum or oil secretion on your skin
3. Skin mites such as demodex brevis and demodex folliculorum which feed on excessive sebum secretion can trigger your body’s immune response
5. Cold and dry weather
7. Certain medical conditions and drugs
8. According to Ayurvedic experts, the lack of application of oil to your head (Kesha Taila), sleeping during the day, hot and humid weather, improper hair wash may increase the chances of having Darunaka or Seborrheic dermatitis. 
What Are The Symptoms Of Seborrheic Dermatitis?
1. Severe dandruff on your scalp, eyebrows, mustache, or beard.
2. Greasy skin patches containing flaky yellow or white scales on the scalp, sides of the nose, eyelids, eyebrows, ears, chest, etc.
4. Red skin
These symptoms may be more severe and chronic when you undergo stress. Also, they tend to flare-up in cold and dry seasons.
"If ignored or not treated promptly, the patches from seborrheic dermatitis may grow larger, causing uncontrollable itching. As you pick or scratch at the affected areas, the infection spreads to the internal layers of your scalp skin, resulting in severe hair loss eventually,’’ says Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix.
Treatments For Seborrheic Dermatitis
1. How Does Ayurveda Cure Seborrheic Dermatitis?
We can compare seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp to 'Darunaka' in Ayurveda. Darunaka is considered a hair root disorder, and it is one of the most prevalent causes of hair loss as per Ayurveda.
According to Ayurveda, each individual comprises three biological forces: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas. Your overall health depends upon the balanced state of these tridoshas.
Darunaka is a condition that occurs when there is vitiation of Vata and Kapha doshas in your body. This imbalance in Vata and Kapha leads to an elevation in Pitta levels, causing inflammation in the affected area.
"Darunaka is associated with tvak sphutana (scalp scaling), rukshata (dryness and roughness of the scalp), kandu (itching), keshachyuti (diffuse hair fall), svapa (loss of touch sensation) and daruna (difficulty in tolerance) according to Ayurveda," says Dr. Zeel.
As per ancient Ayurvedic scripts, below are some of the most effective ways to treat Darunka or seborrheic dermatitis with natural medicinal herbs.
A. Ayurvedic Hair Care Regimen
A consistent hair care regimen with a powerful herbal formula essentially brings balance to your vitiated dosha levels. Hence, incorporate a natural Ayurvedic hair care regimen with products containing the following ingredients to control seborrheic dermatitis.
1. Amla (Indian Gooseberry): It acts as a natural antioxidant that boosts immunity levels to control seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups.
2. Guduchi (Giloy): It is a herb with significant anti-inflammatory properties, and it helps soothe elevated Pitta levels in your body.
3. Nimba (Neem): It is best known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. While it calms pitta, neem in your hair care products relieves itching and burning.
4. Daruharidra (Berberis aristata): It is well known for curbing fungal and bacterial growth in the affected area while imparting a calming effect by bringing down Pitta levels.
5. Yashtimadhu (Mulethi): It is instrumental in preventing flare-ups as it helps balance your doshas by regulating your hormonal levels.
Choose Ayurvedic hair care products with the above herbal ingredients based on your current dosha levels.
B. Ayurvedic Diet
Include foods that control the vitiation of Vata and Kapha doshas in your diet to reduce seborrheic dermatitis. Foods that taste bitter such as bitter gourd, works best to control seborrheic dermatitis. Intake foods rich in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits, bell peppers, and plenty of leafy greens, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and almonds regularly. You also need to avoid foods that are excessively salty or sour, dairy, and cold items.
C. Ayurvedic Therapies
You can regularly undergo Ayurvedic panchakarma therapies such as Abhyangam, Virechan, Murdha thailam, Nasyam, etc. with dosha-specific herbal formulations to heal seborrheic dermatitis.
Hot oil treatment with Marichyadi thailam is also one of the most effective Ayurvedic therapy to treat seborrheic dermatitis, which needs to be administered after examining your body's doshic predominance.
Vedix Tip: Avoid traveling to regions with dry and cold weather conditions. At least, protect your scalp and skin with necessary accessories to reduce the effects of such weather on your body.
2. Natural Treatments And Remedies
A. Tea Tree Oil
Mix eight to twelve drops of tea tree oil in a carrier oil such as coconut oil or olive oil. Apply this mixture to the affected area. This may relieve you from itching while healing the scaly patches on your scalp or skin.
B. Fish Oil Supplements
Consuming fish oil supplements is highly recommended for overall immune function as it contains omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oil supplements can help you reduce flare-ups of seborrheic dermatitis effectively.
C. Aloe Vera
Apply freshly extracted aloe vera gel to the affected area and leave it on. Aloe vera is well known for its natural anti-inflammatory properties and works well in treating seborrheic dermatitis.
D. Apple Cider Vinegar
Soaking the patches of seborrheic dermatitis in apple cider vinegar will loosen the scales. Also, apple cider vinegar reduces the inflammation in the flare-up area.
To treat seborrheic dermatitis on your scalp, wash your hair with a mild Ayurvedic shampoo first. Then, apply the diluted apple cider vinegar solution to your scalp. Let the solution sit on your scalp for about 15-20 minutes before rinsing it off with normal water.
E. Olive Oil
Apply olive oil to the affected area on your scalp and leave it on for about an hour. Then, remove the loosened scales with the help of a soft brush. Later, wash your hair using a mild Ayurvedic shampoo as.
3. Other Medications
Conventional allopathic treatments for seborrheic dermatitis are usually effective if it is a mild case. Antifungal creams and medicated shampoos that contain chemicals such as selenium sulfide, zinc pyrithione, coal tar, ketoconazole, etc. are often prescribed by the doctors to treat seborrheic dermatitis.
‘’However, although these chemicals efficiently control the symptoms of the condition, they tend to return with seasonal changes’’, says Dr. Zeel.
In the case of chronic seborrheic dermatitis, doctors may prescribe corticosteroids for oral ingestion, which significantly helps calm skin inflammation.
However, topical lotions or creams that contain pimecrolimus (Elidel) and calcineurin inhibitors tacrolimus (Protopic) may have fewer side effects when compared to corticosteroids .
What Are Risk Factors For Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Some of the predominant factors which can increase the risk of developing seborrheic dermatitis are as follows:
1. Neurological conditions such as Parkinson's disease and psychiatric conditions like clinical depression
2. A weakened immunity system. It is usually observed in people with alcoholic pancreatitis, HIV/AIDS, some types of cancers, and organ transplant recipients.
3. Post-traumatic stress disorders after experiencing medical conditions such as heart attack
4. Some medications include drugs such as psoralen, lithium, and interferon.
How Is Seborrheic Dermatitis Diagnosed?
Seborrheic dermatitis can be similar in appearance to other skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema, tinea versicolor, or rosacea. Through close examination of your skin, your doctor can accurately be able to diagnose your condition. For further analysis, you may be recommended to undergo a biopsy test .
You should contact your dermatologist if you experience a flare-up or conditions get worse. You might need a change in dosage, medication or treatment.
Please consult your doctor or Ayurvedic practitioner before undergoing any of the treatments mentioned in this article to treat seborrheic dermatitis.
The Last Word
Though conventional medical treatments are effective, Ayurvedic treatments and home remedies to control seborrheic dermatitis can limit your exposure to strong and harsh chemicals.
Often, doctors suggest natural remedies apart from medical treatments to relieve seborrheic dermatitis more quickly and with lesser side effects.
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