Although treatment will not completely cure seborrheic dermatitis, it can help alleviate some of the symptoms.
People may be able to treat mild cases of seborrheic dermatitis using natural home remedies, such as aloe vera and tea tree oil. However, these options should not replace conventional treatments, many of which are over available over the counter.
A person who experiences frequent or severe flare-ups may require prescription treatments from their doctor.
One older study from 1999 used a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to investigate the effects of aloe vera on seborrheic dermatitis.
Over the course of 4–6 weeks, 44 adults with seborrheic dermatitis applied one of two treatments to their scalp twice per day. One group applied an aloe vera ointment, while the other applied a placebo.
Those applying the aloe vera ointment reported a 62% improvement in symptoms, whereas those in the placebo group reported a 25% improvement. The researchers concluded that aloe vera extract is successful in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis.
The following over-the-counter (OTC) treatments may help alleviate seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups as well as keep the condition under control. Some of the treatments outlined below are suitable for infants, while others are suitable for adolescents and adults.
People can buy baby shampoos formulated to treat scalp conditions in infants. These may contain mineral oil.
To treat seborrheic dermatitis in infants, the American Academy of Dermatology suggest:
- using baby shampoo on the scalp daily
- gently brushing away scaly skin as it becomes softer
- applying OTC seborrheic dermatitis medication to the scalp
For adolescents and adults
Certain shampoos contain specific formulas to help treat seborrheic dermatitis in adolescents and adults. These include shampoos for treating dandruff, as well as shampoos containing the following ingredients:
- selenium sulfide
- pyrithione zinc
- salicylic acid
- coal tar
People can also buy OTC shampoos containing a class of antifungal drug called azoles. One example of this is ketoconazole (Nizoral). A person should ask their pharmacist for advice on how and when to use the shampoo.
In some cases, a pharmacist may advise a person to alternate between the treatment shampoo and their regular shampoo. People may eventually be able to reduce their use of the treatment shampoo to once or twice per week.
Some people may experience severe or frequent flare-ups of seborrheic dermatitis that do not respond to OTC treatments.
In such cases, a person should see their doctor or dermatologist. They may recommend a corticosteroid solution to help reduce scalp inflammation or a stronger, prescription-strength shampoo.
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