Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that causes patches of red, flaky, greasy skin. These patches are often itchy as well. It commonly affects the scalp, where it can also result in dandruff.
These symptoms are the results of an overproduction of thick sebum, an oily secretion that’s produced by your sebaceous glands. Experts aren’t sure what causes seborrheic dermatitis, but it may be related to genetics or immune system issues.
Seborrheic dermatitis generally doesn’t cause hair loss. However, excessive scratching can injure your hair follicles, resulting in some hair loss.
In addition, the extra sebum associated with seborrheic dermatitis can trigger an overgrowth of malassezia. This is a type of yeast that’s naturally found on most people’s skin. When it grows out of control, it can cause inflammation that makes it harder for hair to grow nearby.
Read on to learn about how to treat seborrheic dermatitis and whether hair loss associated with it is reversible.
There are many ways to treat seborrheic dermatitis. However, you may need to try a few before you find one that works. Some people find that a combination of treatments work best.
Your doctor will likely suggest trying over-the-counter (OTC) remedies. If these don’t work, you may need prescription treatment.
The main OTC treatments for seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp are medicated shampoos designed to treat dandruff.
Look for products containing any of the following ingredients:
- pyrinthione zinc
- salicylic acid
- selenium sulfide
You can purchase antidandruff shampoos containing these ingredients on Amazon.
For mild cases of seborrheic dermatitis, you may only need to use medicated shampoo for a few weeks. If you have light-colored hair, you may want to stay away from selenium sulfide, which can cause discoloration.
Looking for a more natural option? Find out which natural treatments for seborrheic dermatitis actually work.
If medicated shampoos or natural remedies don’t provide any relief, you might need to see you doctor for a prescription.
Prescription treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include:
Corticosteroid creams, ointments, or shampoos
Prescription hydrocortisone, fluocinolone (Synalar, Capex), desonide (Desonate, DesOwen), and clobetasol (Clobex, Cormax) can all help to reduce inflammation. This makes it easier for hair to grow in the affected area. While they’re generally effective, you should only use them for a week or two at a time to avoid side effects, such as skin thinning.
Antifungal creams, gels, and shampoos
For more severe seborrheic dermatitis, your doctor might prescribe a product containing ketoconazole or ciclopirox.
If topical corticosteroids and antifungal agents don’t seem to help, your doctor might suggest an oral antifungal medication. These are usually prescribed as a last resort because they tend to cause a lot of side effects and interactions with other medications.
Creams containing calcineurin inhibitors
Creams and lotions containing calcineurin inhibitors are effective and have fewer side effects than corticosteroids. Examples include including pimercrolimus (Elidel) and tacrolimus (Protopic). However, the FDA recommended limiting their use in 2006 due to potential cancer risks.
Hair loss from seborrheic dermatitis, whether from excessive scratching or an overgrowth of fungus, is only temporary. Your hair will grow back once the inflammation goes away and you no longer have an itchy scalp to scratch.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common condition that often affects the scalp. Sometimes it can cause minor hair loss from inflammation or aggressive scratching. However, hair starts to grow back once the condition is treated with either OTC or prescription treatment.
If you have seborrheic dermatitis and notice hair loss, make an appointment with your doctor. They can help to come up with a treatment plan and rule out other potential causes of your hair loss.