Seborrheic Dermatitis and Hair Loss: All You Need to Know

Do you have patches of scaly skin on your scalp? Are you losing more hair than usual? If you can tell you are going bald and notice patches on your scalp, you may be dealing with seborrheic dermatitis, a common condition that can lead to hair loss.

In this article, we’ll explore seborrheic dermatitis and hair loss, their causes, and their relationship. I will also show you the available treatments today and alternative natural remedies.

Keep reading to learn more.

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is a type of autoimmune skin condition characterized by scaly, red patches on the skin. Symptoms usually appear on the scalp, but they can also manifest on the face, chest, back, or other areas of the body. 

Seborrheic dermatitis can be a real nuisance, but fortunately, it is not very common. Only 5% of people worldwide suffer from this condition. However, the milder form of seborrheic dermatitis, commonly known as dandruff, affects over 50% of the population.  

Seborrheic Dermatitis and Hair Loss

Does Seborrheic Dermatitis Cause Hair Loss? 

Aside from DHT, there can be many culprits when it comes to balding and hair loss. Another common cause is an unhealthy scalp. Just like your face and body skin, the scalp needs to be cared for to stay healthy. When the scalp is stressed, it can lead to hair loss. 

Many things can cause a stressed scalp, including tight hairstyles, harsh chemicals, and bacterial/fungal overgrowth. 

One of the thought causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis is the overgrowth of a type of yeast known as Malassezia. Studies have shown that Malassezia is a source of oxidative stress. In fact, dermatitis is a form of an immune response against Malassezia yeast when it invades the skin. 

The bottom line is that seborrheic dermatitis does not directly cause hair loss, as both are symptoms. When the Malassezia yeast wreaks havoc on the scalp, it causes the body to overreact and attack its own and cause itching and flaking. Over time, this may lead to seborrheic dermatitis and hair loss.

However, with proper treatment, it is typically possible to control the condition and prevent further hair loss.

Main Cause of Seborrheic Dermatitis

The causes of seborrheic dermatitis are still largely unknown. However, several theories have been put forward by experts.

Malassezia Yeast Overgrowth

When it comes to Seborrheic Dermatitis, one of the most popular theories is it is caused by an overgrowth of the Malassezia. This yeast naturally occurs on the skin. 

There are two primary causes of Malassezia overgrowth. First is immunosuppression caused by age, disease, or malnutrition. When our immune system is weakened, it becomes more susceptible to infection and fungal invasion.

Antibiotic overuse can also cause Malassezia overgrowth. Antibiotics kill good bacteria, which alters the normal body flora. This can lead to an imbalance of bacteria in the body, which can allow Malassezia to thrive. 

Additionally, the yeast feeds on sebum, an oily substance produced by the sebaceous glands. That’s why people with overactive sebaceous glands are more susceptible to seborrheic dermatitis. 

This overgrowth can also be triggered by certain factors, including cold weather, stress, hormonal changes, food sensitivities, and allergies. Over time, the overgrowth of this yeast results in irritation, inflammation, and scaling of the skin. Check out some of the female celebrities who had hair loss because of stress.

Seborrheic Dermatitis and Hair Loss Treatments

Seborrheic Dermatitis and Hair Loss Treatments

While seborrheic dermatitis is not contagious and life-threatening, it can be frustrating and uncomfortable. As of today, there is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis, but there are several treatments that can help control the symptoms. 

If you think you may be dealing with seborrheic dermatitis, it’s important to see a doctor or dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis. Once seborrheic dermatitis has been diagnosed, there are a few possible treatment options for balding in men.

Medicated Shampoos

Over-the-counter medicated shampoos containing coal tar, ketoconazole or Zinc Pyrithione are often effective in controlling the scale and itching associated with the condition. 

Coal tar Shampoo

Coal tar is a black, thick liquid that is a by-product of coal production. This creosote has been used since the 1920s to treat various skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis. Coal tar regulates immune response, which helps control skin inflammation and rebuilds a stronger skin barrier. 

Although coal tar effectively minimizes seborrheic dermatitis symptoms, it can cause hair loss and adverse side effects if used for an extended period of time. In addition, coal tar can be messy and smelly, and it can stain clothing and bedding. For these reasons, it is crucial to speak with a doctor before using coal tar to treat seborrheic dermatitis.

Ketoconazole Shampoos

Ketoconazole shampoo is an over-the-counter medication used to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. The active ingredient, ketoconazole, is an antifungal that helps to reduce the Malassezia yeast on the scalp. 

Ketoconazole shampoo may be an effective treatment option if you have mild seborrheic dermatitis. Unlike other shampoos that only temporarily relieve symptoms, ketoconazole helps control the underlying fungal infection. 

However, it is important to understand that ketoconazole shampoo is not effective for treating severe dermatitis. Using ketoconazole shampoo in extreme cases can actually worsen the condition as its side effects include redness, dryness, redness, and scalp itching. 

If you are looking for a more effective treatment, you may want to consider using a ketoconazole cream formulated with an anti-inflammatory like hydrocortisone. Ketoconazole cream is available by prescription only, so be sure to talk to your doctor about whether this option is right for you.

Shampoos with Pyrithione Zinc

Pyrithione zinc is a chemical compound that releases zinc ions when applied to the skin. Zinc has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it an ideal treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. 

Just like Ketoconazole, Pyrithione Zinc effectively treats dandruff and mild dermatitis. Further studies are needed to confirm Zinc’s efficacy against the yeast that causes seborrheic dermatitis and its safety profile.

Phototherapy (light therapy)

Some studies have shown that phototherapy may also be effective in treating seborrheic dermatitis. Phototherapy involves exposure to ultraviolet light that induces cell apoptosis, killing pathogens.

 While some evidence suggests that phototherapy may be effective against seborrheic dermatitis, more research is needed to confirm its efficacy. Additionally, phototherapy can be expensive and has side effects like skin itching and burning. Therefore, it should be considered a last resort after other treatment options have failed.

Oral Medication (Doctor-Prescribed) 

Antihistamines and anti-inflammatories are typically the first lines of defense, as they can help to ease the symptoms. 


Antihistamines like Benadryl work by preventing the release of histamine, a substance that helps protect the body against infection. Histamine is usually released when the body comes into contact with an allergen. It causes the symptoms of an allergy, such as sneezing and a runny nose. 

However, in people with seborrheic dermatitis, histamine is released even in the absence of an allergen. This phenomenon can cause the skin to become inflamed and irritated. 

Antihistamines can help to reduce these symptoms, but they do not work for everyone. Additionally, it also causes mild side effects, such as dry mouth or drowsiness. 

Anti Inflammatory Drugs

On the other hand, anti-inflammatory drugs work by reducing inflammation. In people with seborrheic dermatitis, the skin is already inflamed, so these drugs can help to reduce inflammation symptoms like swelling, redness, and itchiness associated with the condition. 

However, like antihistamines, they do not work for everyone and can cause side effects. Therefore, it is important to speak to a doctor before taking any medication for seborrheic dermatitis.

Antifungal Medication

If these medications are not effective, and in severe cases, antifungal medication may be prescribed. However, this should be used as a last resort, as it can have several adverse side effects and may cause liver damage.

Natural Remedies for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Natural Treatments for Seborrheic Dermatitis

If you’ve tried some of the medications above and they didn’t work, there’s still hope. Aside from the medicated products above, there are a lot of natural remedies you can use to alleviate Seborrheic Dermatitis and hair loss symptoms.  

Apple Cider Vinegar

First of all, is apple cider vinegar, one of the most popular home remedies for any type of fungal infection. Made from fermented apple juice, ACV is rich in acetic acid, which has antimicrobial and antiseptic properties. This property makes it an ideal natural treatment for dandruff and mild seborrheic dermatitis.

Apple cider vinegar can be taken orally to improve overall health. When applied topically, it reduces inflammation and scaling. To use, dilute the vinegar before applying it to the skin, as undiluted vinegar can cause irritation. 

Tea Tree Oil

Tea tree oil (melaleuca oil) is a medicinal essential oil derived from the leaves of the tea tree plant. Melaleuca oil has long been used to treat a lot of ailments, including skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis. 

Tea tree oil can help to alleviate these symptoms by reducing inflammation and suppressing the growth of fungal and bacterial infections. In addition, tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, making it an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. 

To use tea tree oil for seborrheic dermatitis, simply apply a few drops of the oil to the affected scalp several times per day.


Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms similar to the good bacteria that already live in your gut. Taking them as supplements can help restore the natural balance of bacteria in your body, which can have a variety of health benefits. 

Probiotics for seborrheic dermatitis are becoming more popular as research continues to explore their potential role in skin health. In fact, probiotics were found to help alleviate the appearance of atopic dermatitis in infants by reducing inflammation and boosting immunity. 

In addition, probiotics may help reduce the proliferation of bacteria and yeasts, which plays a role in the development of seborrheic dermatitis. 

Although many people find relief with probiotic use, further clinical trials are needed to assess its efficacy. But while there are no studies showing the long-term safety profile of probiotics and prebiotics, current evidence suggests that probiotics may offer a safe and effective treatment option for seborrheic dermatitis.

Stress Relieving Activities

For most people, stress is an unfortunate but unavoidable part of life. But for those who suffer from seborrheic dermatitis, stress can be a trigger that makes the symptoms worse. Luckily, many different stress-relieving activities can help reduce flare-ups and provide much-needed relief.

Mind-body practice like yoga and meditation is the most popular and easiest way to calm the mind and body. And it can be done in the comfort of your home. If you prefer to be outdoors, take a leisurely walk in the park or go for a swim in the local pool. 

And if you’re looking for something different and more hands-on, try painting or baking. Anything that allows you to express your creativity can help you focus on something other than your stressors.

No matter what stress-relieving activity you choose, make sure to take some time for yourself each day to relax and de-stress. Your skin will thank you for it!

Seborrheic Dermatitis and Hair Loss: Conclusion

I hope this Seborrheic Dermatitis and Hair Loss article helped you understand the relationship between seborrheic dermatitis and hair loss. Just like any autoimmune disease, no permanent cure has been found to treat seborrheic dermatitis. Various over-the-counter and prescription medications are available, but some people find that natural remedies provide the most relief.

If you’re struggling with seborrheic dermatitis, it’s important to talk to your doctor about the best treatment options for you. With the information provided in this article and the best treatment plan, you can manage your symptoms and keep your scalp and hair healthy and strong.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of a family member, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. 

Gen R.

Gen is a Master Stylist in Tampa, Florida who specializes in extremely thin hair and hair loss care. Working with hundreds of clients with hair loss/thinning concerns allowed her to recognize products and routines that can cause damage. She has discovered what hair products work and what doesn’t and shares all of this info to the readers of Union of Barber. When she’s not writing, you can find Gen hiking or at home with her army of cats!  

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