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Natural treatments for seborrheic dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that usually manifests in scalp itchiness and facial dryness. It affects about 6 million children and adults in the United States of America. This condition can be tricky to recognize or diagnose because the skin reactions it triggers mimic those caused by similar conditions like psoriasis, other forms of eczema, or even allergic reactions.

The lesions of seborrheic dermatitis most commonly appear on areas of the skin with high numbers of sebaceous glands. The parts of the body most likely to develop itchiness and other symptoms are: near the neck or collarbone; back; upper chest; ears; scalp; face; or any fold in the body such as the groin area [1].

Doctors are still not sure of the real cause of seborrheic dermatitis, but it appears to be related to either an abnormal composition of the skin’s sebaceous gland secretions, abnormal immune response, or abnormal proliferation of Malassezia yeasts which can have negative effects on the skin. The most common presentations of seborrheic dermatitis include cradle cap in babies; scaly patches or dandruff on the scalp; erythema or skin peeling; red patches of skin that can be extremely dry and sensitive; or flaking skin, especially in skin areas with folds that contain a lot of oil. You need to talk with your doctor if you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis before you start using some of the below-mentioned home remedies for this condition.

11 Home remedies for seborrheic dermatitis

Apple cider vinegar

You should soak your hair and scalp in apple cider vinegar since it can have a very positive effect on your scalp and it can give you relief from inflammation [2]. This may not sound like the most attractive idea, but this can help you a lot. You should dilute apple cider vinegar with water, wash your hair as usual, and then add this mixture to your scalp. You should let it sit in place for 10 minutes or so before rinsing it away thoroughly. You should repeat this natural treatment several times a week.

Coconut oil

You should massage virgin coconut oil into the affected areas of your skin. It can soothe the area affected as well as keep your skin moisturized and soft. It also has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which are ideal for the skin [3]. You can use coconut oil alone or in combination with essential oil. Either way, it is a great home remedy for seborrheic dermatitis. It can also help your hair to look shiny and healthy.

Essential oils

There are many essential oils that are well-studied. They have antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, which are suitable criteria for treating chronic skin complaints [4].

Borage, lavender, and tea tree oil are some of the best essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis, but there are many others to choose from. If you are using tea tree oil for seborrheic dermatitis, then you should dilute it before applying it to your skin or scalp.  Olive oil and virgin coconut oil are great oils for this purpose.

They can help dilute your essential oil but still contribute to their own benefits. To use, you should add a few drops of the essential oil that you have chosen to your regular shampoo and massage it well into your scalp. Also, there is another option, and that is to massage the essential oil diluted with a carrier oil directly into your scalp and hair.

Natural cures for seborrheic dermatitis


Probiotics are often recommended for many skin conditions in which seborrheic dermatitis is also included. There are not many studies which are seen the effect of probiotics on seborrheic dermatitis, and their effects are not still proven for this condition, but it is known that probiotics can give relief from inflammation throughout the body, and they can positively affect the digestive health [5]. You can add probiotic food to your diet, or you can take probiotics in supplement form. Some of the best sources of dietary probiotics are fermented foods like yogurt, kimchi, or kefir.

Aloe Vera

This is one of the best home remedies for many different skin conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which can ease irritation and soothe the skin [6]. You can use a fresh Aloe Vera leaf and extract its gel, or, simply, you can apply ready-made gel to your skin.

Avoid irritating beauty products

When you apply chemical-laden products to your skin on a regular basis, it can worsen the manifestations of seborrheic dermatitis. Over-cleaning, the skin, picking on the skin, or itch scratching can make things worse. You should use natural or organic products on your skin as much as possible.

You should also be very careful to avoid commercial shampoos with chemicals if you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. It is known that most beauty products have chemicals that are harmful or drying. Therefore, you should look for products that are made without ingredients like lauryl sulfate, sodium Laureth, or parabens. For cleaning, toning, and hydrating your skin without irritation, you should turn to natural skin care products, such as Aloe Vera gel, shea butter, witch hazel, tea tree, or apple cider vinegar.

Also, it is very important to avoid other causes of contact dermatitis, such as latex (if you have an allergy); poison ivy, or poison oak; specific natural products that might trigger an allergy, such as certain essential oils or active constituents if you have experienced rashes in the past; fragrant soaps, detergents, shampoos, perfumes, or lotions that might be on your clothes or household fabrics.

Zinc supplements

Many people might not be aware that they have a zinc deficiency. skin irritation and rash are two common signs of zinc deficiency. This is why many dermatologists recommend testing for zinc deficiency in people who have the above-mentioned symptoms. Also, zinc is used in some of the topical agents used to treat seborrheic dermatitis [7]. But nowadays, more attention is paid to the value of internal zinc supplements. Those who have seborrheic dermatitis related to zinc deficiency can take zinc supplements to treat the underlying cause behind their dermatitis.

Stay hydrated

You should be sure that you are supplying your skin with enough hydration by drinking lots of water throughout the day. You should avoid consuming too many sugary drinks, caffeine drinks, alcohol, or salty foods since they can aggravate and dry out the skin. Instead, you should try some healthy alternatives, such as homemade smoothies, green tea, and coconut water, to increase your fluid intake.

Reduce intake of inflammatory and allergen foods

It is very important to keep your diet as unprocessed as possible since this can keep the inflammation as low as possible. You should focus on eating whole foods, so it is highly recommended to minimize your intake of packaged and processed foods that can worsen autoimmune reactions and allergies. Foods that you need to avoid are fried foods and trans fats; processed oils like corn, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oil; added sugar and sweetened beverages. If you are prone to allergies, then you should also avoid foods like refined grain products, which are made with peanuts, shellfish, conventional dairy, and wheat.

Fish oil

Fish oil is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are known that are having anti-inflammatory qualities [8]. There are some studies showing that taking fish oil supplements can cause a reduction in the skin symptoms of many inflammatory skin conditions [9]. Breastfeeding mothers should know that when they are taking fish oil, then they are also increasing the levels of Omega-3 fatty acids in their breast milk. Talk with your doctor before you start using fish oil supplements.

Tea tree oil

Tea tree oil has been long studied as a natural treatment for many skin conditions. It has anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties [10]. It is safe to apply this oil topically, but you need to dilute it first before using it. You might use olive or coconut oil to dilute it. You should mix three to five drops of tea tree oil in one ounce of carrier oil before applying it to the affected area. This combination can reduce the itching as well as promote the healing of scaly skin patches.


[1] Clark GW, Pope SM, Jaboori KA. Diagnosis and treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. American Family Physician. 2015;91(3):185-90.

[2] Yagnik D, Serafin V, J Shah A. Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; Downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific Reports. 2018;8(1):1732-.

[3] Newell-Fugate AE, Lenz K, Skenandore C, et al. Effects of coconut oil on glycemia, inflammation, and urogenital microbial parameters in female Ossabaw mini-pigs. PloS One. 2017;12(7):e0179542-e.

[4] Orchard A, van Vuuren S. Commercial Essential Oils as Potential Antimicrobials to Treat Skin Diseases. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2017;2017:4517971-.

[5] Plaza-Díaz J, Ruiz-Ojeda FJ, Vilchez-Padial LM, Gil A. Evidence of the anti-Inflammatory effects of probiotics and synbiotics in intestinal chronic diseases. Nutrients. 2017;9(6):555.

[6] Hashemi SA, Madani SA, Abediankenari S. The review on properties of aloe vera in healing of cutaneous wounds. BioMed Research International. 2015;2015:714216-.

[7] Berk T, Scheinfeld N. Seborrheic dermatitis. P & T : A peer-reviewed journal for formulary management. 2010;35(6):348-52.

[8] Maroon JC, Bost JW. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain. Surgical Neurology. 2006;65(4):326-31.

[9] Khayef G, Young J, Burns-Whitmore B, Spalding T. Effects of fish oil supplementation on inflammatory acne. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2012;11:165-.

[10] Carson CF, Hammer KA, Riley TV. Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) oil: a review of antimicrobial and other medicinal properties. Clinical microbiology reviews. 2006;19(1):50-62.

Dina Mohy
Dina Mohy
Dr. Dina M., a medical graduate (MBBCh), and currently a medical intern who has interest in scientific and data research. Dina likes reading novels and baking during free time. She is more interested in basic sciences like immunology and molecular biology.


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