Flakes of dandruff are an annoyance experienced by the majority of people at one time or another in their lives. Most people invest in a good dandruff shampoo, and that’s that—no more dandruff!
But when you’re affected by a similar, long-term problem, it can seem like there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. This is often the case for people who suffer with seborrheic dermatitis.
This condition is relatively common and iIt affects up to five percent of the population. It can be very annoying, embarrassing and distressing to deal with.
So what exactly is seborrheic dermatitis? What causes it—and more importantly—how can it be treated? There are so many different products on the market that it’s hard to know, for example, which is the best shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis.
We take an in-depth look at what this condition is and review some of the best shampoos available to help manage symptoms.
What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis is a very common skin condition which results in an itchy, red rash with a swollen, greasy or shiny appearance to the affected skin. It’s accompanied by white or yellow colored crusting or scaling of the skin.
Cradle cap, which many babies are affected by shortly after birth, is a form of seborrheic dermatitis. Scaly, greasy patches can be seen on the infant’s scalp. They can become crusty and flake off, but the condition is harmless and usually goes away on its own.
The same can’t be said of seborrheic dermatitis which affects adults. While it’s not a life-threatening illness, it tends to be a long-term condition which can flare up and settle down periodically.
An episode of seborrheic dermatitis can be triggered by stress, or cold weather.
What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?
In short, we don’t precisely understand what causes seborrheic dermatitis. Scientists are still studying this condition to fully understand the causes. What we do know is that seborrheic dermatitis is linked to a number of different factors:
Who Does It Affect?
Seborrheic dermatitis can affect people of any age and race, but the people who are most commonly affected are infants under 3 months and adults over 30 years old
Some medical conditions, such as acne, rosacea, Parkinson’s disease, HIV, depression, epilepsy and eating disorders are associated with increased risk of seborrheic dermatitis.
People taking certain medications are also at increased risk of seborrheic dermatitis. These medications include lithium, interferon and psoralen.
Seborrheic dermatitis is not caused by poor hygiene.
Seborrheic dermatitis has been linked with the overproduction of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia, which occurs naturally on the scalp and skin. Malassezia feed on the flaky skin produced from the scalp.
Research indicates that some treatment shampoos are associated with a decrease in the numbers of Malassezia and the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.
What is not clear, however, is whether the Malassezia actually cause seborrheic dermatitis, or if this condition just provides enough food for the Malassezia to overpopulate the affected area.
Don’t Try To Self-Diagnose
One important point about seborrheic dermatitis is that it can be very similar in appearance to eczema, psoriasis or an allergic skin reaction.
While some of these conditions have similar management and treatment strategies, others may differ. It’s very important to make sure you get a diagnosis from a qualified medical professional. Dermatologists are the experts in this area.
Can Seborrheic Dermatitis Be Cured?
Since we don’t fully understand what causes seborrheic dermatitis, there isn’t currently a cure. Treatment of this condition is usually aimed at loosening the existing scales for removal, reducing the amount of new scaling that forms and preventing complications, such as a skin infection.
Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis often consists of:
- Regular use of a dandruff shampoo.
- Applying medication to the skin for specific periods of time.
- Using a barrier cream.
There are many different products available which are aimed at treating seborrheic dermatitis, and each one has its own combination of various different ingredients.
One particular combination of treatment products may work well for some people, but not for others. It’s important to work out the best possible combination for each person.
While some of the process of working out what suits an individual’s skin may be down to trial and error, it’s best done under the supervision of a dermatologist, who can advise and guide the affected person.
Precautions for Use
Shampoos and other products for seborrheic dermatitis shouldn’t be used for extended periods of time without correct medical advice.
Preparations should also not be used on large areas of your body without proper medical advice. If you have symptoms on more than one part of your body, check with your doctor before you apply any medicated preparation.
These kinds of medicated products can cause irritation. If you notice any abnormal skin irritation, or if symptoms become worse, stop using the product immediately and consult a medical professional.
How often the shampoo should be used depends on the shampoo, the severity of your symptoms and skin sensitivity.
Daily use may be appropriate if symptoms are severe, or when you first start using a medicated shampoo. Once things are more under control, you may be able to use the shampoo less frequently.
What Is the Best Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis?
We’ve researched many different shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis, containing all kinds of ingredients. Having whittled it down to our top five products, we then undertook an in-depth review of each one to identify the advantages and disadvantages of each.
Here’s a summary of each of the five products. We’ve included shampoos that use different active ingredients, so if something isn’t working well for you, there’s always more to choose from!
Of the five products we singled out, in our opinion, the best shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis is Head and Shoulders Clinical Strength Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo.
People were very impressed with the result after using this shampoo—some more so compared to any other product they tried. Users noticed a reduction in itching, scaling and flaking with this product, and most people found it mild and pleasant to use.
Other than a few people finding the smell too medicinal, and some—though not all— finding it negatively affected colored hair, there weren’t any major downsides to using this shampoo.
In addition, as the least expensive product of those we reviewed, this shampoo offers excellent value for money, and comes with a satisfaction guarantee; if you aren’t happy, you can return the product and receipt for a full refund—now there’s confidence from the manufacturer that this product is up to the job!