Seborrheic dermatitis can cause hair loss. But don’t worry, as long as you’re able to maintain healthy hair follicles through effective treatment, this hair loss will be temporary.
What is seborrheic dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes red, flaky skin that may also burn or itch.
These symptoms can affect any part of the body, although they are more likely to appear in areas that have a high number of sebaceous glands, which are the body’s oil-producing glands. This means that seborrheic dermatitis typically occurs on the scalp, and the nose, eyelids and ears.
Anyone can develop seborrheic dermatitis. Babies are particularly prone to the condition, although in such cases it is more commonly known as cradle cap. Infants who have cradle cap may suffer from bouts of seborrheic dermatitis in the future. Or an adult can develop the condition seemingly out of nowhere.
What causes seborrheic dermatitis?
But why does seborrheic dermatitis happen? Well, no one’s really sure. It’s not infectious, so you cannot catch it off other people. There are different theories about what causes seborrheic dermatitis, and it seems likely that different factors may contribute towards the condition, such as:
- Your genes
- A proliferation in the yeast that lives on your skin
- Cold dry weather
- Hormonal changes
Men are more prone to seborrheic dermatitis than women. There are also certain things that seem to increase the risk of the condition occurring, including:
- Having oily skin
- Conditions that affect the immune system, like HIV/AIDS
- Conditions that affect the nervous system, like Parkinson’s or epilepsy
- Heart attack
Why does seborrheic dermatitis cause hair loss?
If seborrheic dermatitis develops on the scalp, it can lead to hair loss. Because the condition isn’t entirely understood, medical experts don’t know for certain why this happens.
However, it is widely thought that the glands in the scalp begin to produce a very rich oil, known as sebum. This, in turn, increases the amount of yeast that ordinarily lives on the skin.
This will irritate the scalp, resulting in the symptoms typically associated with seborrheic dermatitis, which are:
- Red, irritated skin
- White, flaky skin (dandruff)
- Skin that burns, itches and is sore to touch
When the skin on the scalp become inflamed and irritated, the hair follicles will be unable to function normally and the hair simply will not grow. The hair will, therefore, start to thin, resulting in hair loss.
Is seborrheic dermatitis hair loss permanent?
If this has happened to you, you’ll no doubt be wondering – is seborrheic dermatitis hair loss permanent?
Hair loss can be extremely upsetting and can adversely affect our emotional well-being, leading to loss of confidence and anxiety.
But the good news is that in the majority of cases, the hair loss caused by seborrheic dermatitis is temporary. However, this is only possible with the right treatment. If you leave the problem untreated for too long, or you are suffering a very severe case, then the hair follicles can be permanently damaged. When this happens, it may be difficult to reverse the hair loss.
Treating seborrheic dermatitis hair loss
There are different treatment options available for seborrheic dermatitis hair loss. There are a few simple things you can try, such as keeping the scalp clean, using anti-dandruff shampoo, and anti-fungal creams. These treatments aim to create a healthier environment for your hair to grow in.
If these don’t work, your doctor may prescribe medication, such as topical creams that contain corticosteroids. Corticosteroids mimic the effect of cortisol, a natural hormone produced in the body that works to reduce inflammation. But these are often the last resort as they can be associated with negative side effects, including thinning skin.
Furthermore, such medication does not work to tackle the cause of seborrheic dermatitis, which is essentially an excessive oil build-up on your scalp. In order to treat this, you need to find a way of reducing inflammation, but also of maintaining a good oil balance across your scalp.
Can Chinese medicine help with seborrheic dermatitis hair loss?
If corticosteroids are something you would prefer to avoid, you might want to explore using Chinese medicine to help with your seborrheic dermatitis hair loss.
For thousands of years, Chinese medicine has been drawing upon the natural healing properties of plants to treat different conditions - including seborrheic dermatitis.
Some of the most effective herbs for this particular skin condition include:
- Atractylodes macrocephala
The root of the Bai zhu plant, known scientifically as atractylodes macrocephala, can help to reduce the inflammation associated with seborrheic dermatitis.
- Eclipta prostrata
Known more commonly as the false daisy, this plant has been shown to promote hair growth and boost the immune system.
- Ligustrum lucidum
A type of privet tree, the fruit of the ligustrum lucidum is another ingredient that can effectively combat hair loss.
- Rehmannia glutinosa
The root of the rehmannia glutinosa herb is extremely versatile, and as such is widely used in Chinese medicine. When treating seborrheic dermatitis, it can reduce inflammation and promote hair growth.
- Taraxacum mongolicum
Taraxacum mongolicum, known more commonly as the dandelion, is traditionally used to treat a wide variety of conditions, including skin conditions.
Dr. Yu’s Formula ProHair 3 combines these ingredients to provide a gentle alternative to the harsh chemicals typically used to treat seborrheic dermatitis.
The formula, which comes in tablets, helps to improve the immune system, reduce inflammation and control the production of oil on your scalp. This will create a much healthier environment on your scalp, promoting hair growth and reversing hair loss.
All products are Health Canada Approved.