What is Seborrheic Dermatitia Hair Loss?
Seborrheic Dermatitis is a common skin condition that commonly affects the scalp, face, or inside the ears.
Seborrheic dermatitis can also appear on other parts of the body including the groin, legs, creases of the arms and the chest. The affected areas usually have yellow to white flakes. The skin may also turn reddish and greasy.
Seborrheic dermatitis affects approximately 10 percent of the general population. Research shows that up to 70 percent of infants below three months experience the condition at least once. Even though the highest prevalence of Seborrheic dermatitis is at two weeks to 3 months of age, the trimodal occurring most commonly in adults, then in adolescents and lastly in adults more than 50 years old.
In babies, the condition is referred to as “cradle cap.” It commonly appears in babies younger than three of age. In adults, it is more likely to affect older men than women. When adults get seborrheic dermatitis on their scalp, it is referred to as dandruff.
In this article, we will discuss all there is to know about the condition.
What is the Exact Cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Doctors have not yet established the exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis. Different factors can cause the condition. It may be related to an irregular response to the immune system or a yeast/fungus known as Malassezia that is commonly found in the oil secretion on the skin.
Other risk factors that increase the chances of developing the condition include:
- Recovery from stressful medical conditions, such as a heart attack
- A weakened the immune system, for example, an organ transplant recipient and people living with HIV/ AIDS, people suffering from some types of cancers or alcoholic pancreatitis
- Psychiatric and neurologic conditions, such as depression and Parkinson’s disease
- Some medications
It is imperative to note that scientists have discovered that seborrheic dermatitis is not an allergy; it does not harm and that it is not caused by poor personal hygiene.
Who Can Get Seborrheic Dermatitis?
People of all ages and colors can get seborrheic dermatitis hair loss. However, you may have a higher risk of suffering from the condition if any of the following apply to you:
People in these two groups are more likely to suffer from seborrheic dermatitis: adults between 30 and 60 years of age and infants three months of age and younger.
2: Medical Conditions
The risk of getting seborrheic dermatitis also increases if you have medical conditions, such as depression, alcoholism, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, eating disorder, or HIV. People recovering from a stroke or heart attack also have a higher risk of getting the disease.
3: Medical Treatment
The risk for seborrheic dermatitis increases if you are taking medicines such as Psoralen, Lithium, and interferon.
What Are Some Signs and Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Some of the main signs and symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Red skin
- Areas of greasy skins with yellow or flaky white scales.
- The presence of crust on the scalp, groin area, under the breasts, ears, eyebrows or sides of the nose.
- Skin flakes on the scalp, hair, mustache, beard or eyebrows.
It is recommended to see a doctor if you suspect the skin is infected, or you are so uncomfortable that you cannot sleep or you are distracted from your daily routine or if the condition is causing embarrassment and anxiety.
Does Seborrheic Dermatitis Cause Hair Loss?
There are multiple researches done on this topic and some say yes and some say no but according to the American Academy of Dermatologists, seborrheic dermatitis does not cause hair loss.
However, it causes excessive scratching that can injure the hair follicles, leading to some hair loss. In addition, seborrheic dermatitis is associated with extra sebum that triggers an overgrowth of the yeast, Malassezia. Malassezia is a type of fungus that occurs naturally in human skin. If the fungus grows out of control, it can result in inflammation, making it harder for hair to grow nearby.
Similarly, if seborrheic dermatitis develops on the scalp, it can result in hair loss. This is because the condition causes the glands in the scalp to secrete a large amount of sebum, which in turn triggers the overgrowth of Malassezia. The yeast irritates the scalp, resulting in symptoms associated with seborrheic dermatitis hair loss, such as skin burns, itches and is soar to touch, white flaky skin and red irritated the skin.
When the skin on the scalp becomes irritated and inflamed, the hair follicles are unable to function normally, and hair cannot simply grow. Thus, the hair will begin to thin, leading to seborrheic dermatitis hair loss.
What Are The Psychological Effects of Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair loss?
Research conducted by the Clinical Research Center for Hair and Skin Science shows that hair loss can have a real and enormous emotional burden that can cause severe psychological disorders, including body dysmorphic disorder and acute anxiety. Some common effects of hair loss include:
- While a head full of hair cannot guarantee instant confidence, research shows that people suffering from hair loss, about 75 percent of them feel less confident since the onset of their hair loss. Statistics for female hair loss are however difficult to compile due to the tendency of some women with hair loss hiding the condition since they feel stigmatized by it.
- When a woman loses her hair, she believes she is no longer attractive. Hair is also an essential part of the male psyche. To men, their hair represents their virility. Just like women, when men experience conditions, such as seborrheic dermatitis that causes hair loss, they believe they are no longer attractive.
- Seborrheic dermatitis hair loss has also been associated with degradation in physical health. One study showed that women with hair loss (androgenic alopecia) were more likely to have issues with blood sugar regulation and insulin resistance than those with normal hair.
- Hair plays an integral role in the social life of any human being. When you first meet someone, one of the first things they will notice about you is your hair. Before social engagements, it is imperative that you look good, and a good lock hair is what completes your appearance. Hair loss may cause a person to limit their social activities. Some people suffering from seborrheic hair loss even avoid seeing their friends and stop going out except to work. Studies have shown that nearly 40 percent of women suffering from hair loss have had marital problems, and about 63 percent claimed that they have career-related issues.
- In extreme cases, some people take hair loss seriously and get stressed about it, up to the point where they get depressed. Some people believe that they are losing something about the control of their life, things that cannot reverse when they start losing their hair. Studies show that people with seborrheic hair loss have high levels of depression and introversion.
- Hair loss can substantially change the appearance of a person. Hair loss can change the facial appearance by shifting the balance of the forehead to the face, resulting in an aged appearance. Recent research revealed that men who had a more profound hair loss were very dissatisfied with their appearance and more concerned about their look than those with little hair loss. This effects cuts across all age groups, but is more profound in younger generations.
- A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology indicated that women tend to be more upset than men by their hair loss. The study compared the psychological effects of hair loss on men and women and found that women had a negative body image after hair loss and were less able to adapt to their hair loss. In fact, it is scientifically proven that women tend to suffer more psychologically and emotionally than men after losing their hair. They tend to feel secure about their appearance as well as how the world and the people around them will think about them.
- One of the cornerstones of physical beauty is self-esteem. The levels of self-esteem and other measures of self-worth significantly drop when hair loss occurs. In addition, hair loss impact on an individual’s feeling of attractiveness. Women suffering from hair loss find it hard to live in a society that places great value of attractiveness and youthful appearance. Since women like spending lots of their time and money grooming, curling, drying and styling their hair to make it look its best, when they start losing their hair, it is extremely traumatic.
Is Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair Loss Permanent?
Considering the effects of seborrheic dermatitis hair loss, you will doubt wondering if the condition is permanent. The good news is that in most cases where hair loss is caused by seborrheic dermatitis is temporary.
However, this is only possible with the right treatment. It is important to note that if you are suffering from a very severe case or if the problem is left untreated for too long then, the hair follicles can be damaged permanently. When this happens, it may be difficult to reverse hair loss. Thus, it is recommended that you have the condition treated as early as possible.
How Does Your Doctor Determine Whether You Have Seborrheic Dermatitis?
When you visit your doctor with the condition, they will be able to determine if you are suffering from seborrheic dermatitis by examining the skin. The doctor may even scrape off the skin for a biopsy to rule out other possible conditions with similar symptoms as seborrheic dermatitis. Some of these conditions that have similar symptoms as seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Rosacea: The condition commonly occurs on the face and has a very minimal scaliness.
- Tinea Versicolor: Tinea versicolor is a type of rash that usually appears on the trunk. However, it does not have reddish patches like seborrheic dermatitis.
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis): Eczema is a type of skin reaction causes an itchy, inflamed skin on the front of the neck, on the backs of the knees or in the folds of the elbows.
- Psoriasis: Psoriasis is a condition that also causes dandruff and red skin covered with scales and flakes. With psoriasis, usually you will have more scales, and they are usually silvery white.
What Are the Various Ways of Treating Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair Loss?
The usual treatment for seborrheic dermatitis depends on age as well as the location of symptoms.
Several medicated shampoos and over the counter drugs are used to relieve dryness and flaking. There is no need for prescriptions for most of these products.
Just look for a product that says it treats seborrheic dermatitis. Some of the critical ingredients a good product should have to include salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, resorcin, zinc, and coal tar. Some of the other possible treatments for the condition include:
Over the Counter Treatments
- The main over the counter drugs for seborrheic dermatitis include selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, salicylic acid, and pyrinthione zinc. Most of the products containing these ingredients are available for sale on Amazon. For mild cases, it is recommended to use medicated shampoo for a few weeks. For people with light-colored hair, it is advisable to avoid selenium sulfide as it can cause discoloration.
- If over the counter medication do not provide any relief, then, you may need to see an experienced dermatologist for a prescription. Prescription treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include:
- Antifungal Medication
- If antifungal agents and topical corticosteroids do not seem to work, the doctor may suggest an oral antifungal medication. These are commonly used as the last resort since they tend to cause serious side effects and interactions with other medications.
- If you are suffering from severe seborrheic dermatitis, the doctor may suggest a product containing ciclopirox or ketoconazole.
- The doctor may prescribe medications, such as clobetasol, desonide, fluocinolone, and hydrocortisone, to help reduce inflammation. This also makes it possible for the hair to grow in the affected area. Although these medications are very effective, it is recommended that you use them for a week or two at a time to avoid possible side effects, such as skin thinning.
- Lotions and creams containing calcineurin inhibitors are also highly effective and have fewer side effects than corticosteroids. Examples include tacrolimus and pimecrolimus. However, the FDA stopped their use in 2006 due to their potential cancer risks.
- You can also control seborrheic dermatitis with home remedies and lifestyle changes. Most of these usually involve the use of over the counter medications. It is important to note that you may have to try different products or a combination before your condition improves.
- The best approach for the condition largely depends on whether the condition affects your scalp or other parts of the body, the severity of the condition as well as your skin type. However, even if the condition clears up, it may still come back at some point. Watch for the symptoms we discussed earlier and resume retreating the condition if it comes back again. Other over the counter treatments and self-care tips that can help you control seborrheic dermatitis hair loss include:
1. Wash The Skin Regularly
While seborrheic dermatitis is not caused by poor personal hygiene, be sure to wash your skin regularly. Make sure you rinse the soap completely off your scalp and body. Avoid using a moisturizer or harsh soaps. More importantly, avoid using hair and skin products that contain alcohol. These can cause the condition to worsen. Lastly, stop using gels, hair sprays, and other styling products while treating the condition.
Make sure to soften and remove scales from your hair. Apply olive oil or mineral oil to the scalp and leave it in for about 60 minutes or more. Then comb or brush your hair and wash it.
2. Apply a Medicated Cream
After washing your skin and scalp, first, try applying a mild corticosteroid cream on the affected areas. Remember to keep these creams away from the eyes. If this does not work, try using an antifungal cream, such as ketoconazole. Always wear smooth-textured cotton clothing as this helps to ensure that air circulates around the skin and reduces irritation. Wash Your Baby’s Scalp Gently
If you an infant that has a cradle cap, consider washing their scalp with non-medicated baby shampoo at least once per day. Use a small soft-bristled brush to loosen the scales before rising out the shampoo gently. If the scaling continues, try applying mineral oil to the scalp for a couple of hours.
3. Clean the Eyelids
If seborrheic dermatitis has affected your eyelids, or you have noticed signs of scaling or redness on them, consider washing them out every night with non-medicated baby shampoo and wipe away scales with a cotton swab. For people with a mustache or beard, be sure shampoo them regularly. Where possible is sure to use a facial shampoo that contains at least 1 percent ketoconazole daily until the symptoms improve. Then switch to shampooing once a week or if possible, consider shaving your mustache or beard as this may help to improve the symptoms.