Seborrheic Dermatitis (Holistic)
About This Condition
Smooth on aloe
To improve scaling and itching, apply a topical herbal cream containing 30% aloe emulsion from the Aloe vera plant
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common inflammatory condition of the skin. Cradle cap is a type of seborrheic dermatitis found in infants; it is usually self-limiting and subsides by the age of six months.
A qualified physician should diagnose these conditions. It is not clear whether research on cradle cap is applicable to the type of seborrheic dermatitis that occurs in adults.
A dry, flaky scalp is typical of mild cases of seborrheic dermatitis. More severe cases have itching, burning, greasy scales overlying red patches on the scalp. Seborrheic dermatitis may be confused with severe dandruff. However, seborrheic dermatitis may also be found on the eyebrows, eyelids, forehead, ears, chest, armpits, groin, and the skin folds beneath the breasts or between the buttocks.
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
|Moms: Try high-biotin foods||
Nursing infants whose mothers ate foods high in biotin, such as liver and egg yolk, had improved cradle cap symptoms in one study.
An early study reported that nursing infants with cradle cap improved when high-Reference biotin foods, such as liver and egg yolk, were added to the mother’s diet.1
|Try a low-allergen diet||
A low-allergen diet may be useful in treating cradle cap. The most common offending foods identified in one study were milk, wheat, and eggs.
A preliminary report suggested that an allergy elimination diet for an infant may be useful in the treatment of cradle cap. The most common offending foods identified were milk, wheat, and eggs.2 More research is needed to confirm the value of this approach in the treatment of cradle cap.
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Apply a topical herbal cream containing 30% aloe emulsion
Topically applied aloe may help improve scaling and itching.
A crude extract of Reference aloe (Aloe barbadensis, Aloe vera) may help seborrheic dermatitis when applied topically. In a double-blind trial, people with seborrheic dermatitis applied either a 30% crude aloe emulsion or a similar placebo cream twice a day for four to six weeks.3 Significantly more people responded to topical aloe vera than to placebo: 62% of those using the aloe vera reported improvements in scaling and itching, compared to only 25% in the placebo group.
Refer to label instructions
Biotin injections either for the infant or the nursing mother may be an effective treatment for cradle cap.
Preliminary studies have found that injecting either the infant or the nursing mother with Reference biotin may be an effective treatment for cradle cap.4 , 5 Studies of oral biotin have yielded mixed results in infants. Older preliminary studies and case reports suggest that 4 mg per day of oral biotin might be sufficient for mild cases of cradle cap, but 10 mg per day was required for more severe cases.6 Two more recent, controlled trials found that oral biotin (4 or 5 mg per day) produced no benefit.7 , 8 Thus, the scientific support for using oral biotin to treat cradle cap is weak. The role of biotin in adult seborrheic dermatitis has not been studied.
Refer to label instructions
Topically applied borage oil may improve cradle cap symptoms.
A group of researchers found that infants with cradle cap appeared to have an imbalance of essential fatty acids in their blood that returned to normal when their skin rashes eventually went away.9 In a preliminary trial, these researchers later found that application of 0.5 ml of Reference borage oil twice daily to the affected skin resulted in clinical improvement of cradle cap within two weeks.10
Refer to label instructions
Supplementing with folic acid has been shown to improve adult seborrheic dermatitis.
One physician reported that injections of Reference B-complex vitamins were useful in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis in infants.11 A preliminary trial found that 10 mg per day of Reference folic acid was helpful in 17 of 20 cases of adult seborrheic dermatitis.12 However, this study also found that oral folic acid did not benefit infants with cradle cap. A preliminary study found that topical application of Reference vitamin B6 ointment (containing 10 mg B6 per gram of ointment) to affected areas improved adult seborrheic dermatitis.13 However, oral vitamin B6 (up to 300 mg per day) was ineffective. Injections of Reference vitamin B12 were reported to improve in 86% of adults with seborrheic dermatitis in a preliminary trial.14 Oral administration of vitamin B12 for seborrheic dermatitis has not been studied.
Refer to label instructions
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1. Gyorgy P. Dietary treatment of scaly desquamative dermatoses of the seborrheic type. Arch Derm Syph 1941;43:230–47.
2. Eppig JJ. Seborrhea capitis in infants: a clinical experience in allergy therapy. Ann Allergy 1971;29:323–4.
3. Vardy DA, Cohen AD, Tchetov T, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of an Aloe vera (A. barbadensis) emulsion in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. J Dermatol Treat 1999;10:7–11.
4. Nisenson A. Seborrheic dermatitis of infants: treatment with biotin injections for the nursing mother. Pediatrics 1969;44:1014–6.
5. Messaritakis J, Kattamis C, Karabula C, Matsaniotis N. Generalized seborrheic dermatitis: clinical and therapeutic data of 25 patients. Arch Dis Child 1975;50:871–4.
6. Nisenson A. Seborrheic dermatits of infants and Leiner’s disease: a biotin deficiency. J Pediatr 1957;51:537–48.
7. Keipert JA. Oral use of biotin in seborrheic dermatitis of infancy: a controlled trial. Med J Aust 1976;1:584–5.
8. Erlichman M, Goldstein R, Levi E, et al. Infantile flexural seborrheic dermatitis. Neither biotin nor essential fatty acid deficiency. Arch Dis Child 1981;56:560–2.
9. Tollesson A, Frithz A, Berg A, Karlman G. Essential fatty acids in infantile seborrheic dermatitis. J Am Acad Dermatol 1993;28:957–61.
10. Tollesson A, Frithz A. Borage oil, an effective new treatment for infantile seborrheic dermatitis. Br J Dermatol 1993;129:95 [letter].
11. Nisenson A. Treatment of seborrheic dermatitis with biotin and vitamin B complex. J Pediatr 1972;81:630–1 [letter].
12. Callaghan TJ. The effect of folic acid on seborrheic dermatitis. Cutis 1967;3:583–8.
13. Schreiner AW, Rockwell E, Vilter RW. A local defect in the metabolism of pyridoxine in the skin of persons with seborrheic dermatitis of the “sicca” type. J Invest Derm 1952;19:95–6.
14. Andrews GC, Post CF, Domnkos AN. Seborrheic dermatitis: supplemental treatment with vitamin B12. NY State Med J 1950;50:1921–5.
Last Review: 11-07-2012
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2013.