15 May 2009

Seborrheic Dermatitis Comments

I am so thrilled that you have found my SD thoughts useful.

Don't we always feel like a spotlight is trained on our SD breakouts and just know the whole world is thinking strange and disturbing thoughts about our little known disease problems? Now we have a small forum for sufferers with similar experiences.

It feels good knowing that I've brought the information to a wider public. I think most of us feel very alone following the thoroughly useless discussions we get to have with our GPs or Dermatologists. I felt like I was in a Jeff Foxworthy skit, "Here's your [sign] meds! You have Seborrheic Dermatitis, we don't know what causes it, it is not caused by an allergy, and here is a prescription. Go fill it and don't bother me."

Ick! And just another stick for the depression pile, huh?

So, I've decided to collate all the information I've gotten from commenters to this point. You've made many excellent suggestions, thanks.

So many of us seem to find a food allergy underlying our problem. (grumble, grumble) ... Why don't the doctors ask us what's going on? We know!

And, perhaps not so surprising, milk and its hidden by-products are the culprit for several of us. As readers pointed out casein (milk protein) is a BIG problem. And yes, when you cut out dairy you realize exactly how much you don't get to eat. (My pantry is so pitifully narrowed in product range these days.) Milk and its by-products are in just about everything! I really cannot figure out why manufacturers, in adjusting their recipes, think, "hm, lets add a bit of milk to this and all our problems will be solved!"

In scientific parlay, casein is a calcium salt phosphoprotein. Its stability makes it an excellent binder and one would assume the price is fairly cheap ... hence the large amount of it found in our foods.

Unfortunately, casein allergies are widespread and most of us aren't aware of the problem. On a purely scientific basis, most animals (us included) lose the ability to digest milk as we leave infancy.

Regardless, one of the great things I've discovered on ingredients lists: allergy info! If you scroll to the bottom of an ingredients list, there is usually an allergens in product list. And milk is included 99.95% of the time. :) This is one of the great and worrisome things about science, we can split a product up in a 1000 different components and you don't know what the original product was if we use one of those components. Hence casein and not milk being in the ingredients list itself, but milk being listed in the allergens list. Whew, clear as mud?

On to the comments -

Brandon in Honolulu shared his SD story, and his problems seem gluten related. He cut out wheat and citrus (some people have trouble with the acidity and/or plant protein allergies). After suffering for 25 years, his symptoms have disappeared.

Since he suffered digestive difficulties along with SD, Celiac's Disease seems a likely culprit. So while he's cut out breads and some fruits, he's much happier with his skin.

There are several recipe books for gluten free/celiac disease diets. I always check out Amazon and the reviews. I'd also strongly recommend checking any of these books out of the local library before buying.

One Anonymous poster has gone through two years of SD flare-ups. This SD sufferer began using direct pure Tea Tree oil application as a temporary fix. (I caution you to take care in Tea Tree Oil usage, it is usually highly concentrated and far too strong for direct skin application, especially with us sensitive skinners. I'd recommend diluting the product. It did not work for my own SD problems.)

"A" eliminated eggs first ... they were not the culprit. But a wheat elimination showed a great deal of skin promise. An unexpected relapse led to the discovery of "hidden" gluten. Much like milk is hidden in many products, so is wheat. Gluten proteins are a stabilizer, so many companies dump it into products. (I also found out that current labelling laws do not require all present gluten be labelled in foods ... if the FDA recognizes a food additive as GRAS, generally recognized as safe, it may not have to be listed on the label if this food does not normally contain the GRAS food additive ... Huh?!?)

And just like "A" found out, when I went gluten free, I found gluten in everything. "A" discovered wheat diluted soy sauce, in practically every sushi restaurant in town. I finally started bringing my own soy sauce to the sushi restaurant. I use the San-J Organic Wheat Free Tamari Soy Sauce. It is available at my local grocery store, but I bet you can order it online if you can't find it locally.

"A" has had problems with cross contamination by gluten products, and is VERY careful of all dietary choices.

Ludawg noticed a huge improvement in SD symptoms when taking the antifungal Diflucan for yeast infections.

Ludawg is also a casein allergic individual. And when searching for casein free foods, realized that few foods were actually casein free. Such unexpected products as soy cheese had casein. Yes, I completely agree that milk products have no business in soy cheese, and yet, there they are!

Once the casein was gone, not even the dry, cold months of winter brought the SD back! Yeah! Another success story.

Steve Carper's webpage has a great list of milk free cheese alternatives. I also found awesome cheese and Faux Mac N Cheese recipes on the blogs. I haven't completely given up on cookbooks, but the bloggers definitely have something going.

Another Anonymous poster uses Ketoconazole shampoo to treat the yeast overgrowth. I'm glad it works for some of you. It did not work for me.

Tiffany has been dealing with SD for several years. She began wearing mineral makeup, which is a really good idea. Mineral makeups don't sink/absorb into the skin, they rest on top. And since so many of us with skin diseases/conditions seem to have sensitive skin, the less you challenge/test your skin with difficult ingredients the better. Which is why we need to be careful when we test new products attempting to control our skin problems.

I really feel for poster "M," talk about the docs from H-E-double hockeysticks! What a run around to get an allergy test completed, and then to find out the test didn't cover casein allergies! I am so sorry "M".

Once we fall into the allergy circuit, it really feels like a downward spiral doesn't it? Once that immune system is sensitized, the strangest things can happen. "M" was dealing with recurring sinus infections, major skin sensitivities, pink eye, etc. I've been through the antibiotic cycle, where you come out of each round worse than you went in.

"M's" problems are mostly casein based (which, of course, the doctors couldn't figure out). However, "M" also has other food allergies, which have worsened over time.

"M" reminds us of how quickly problems show up on our skin. It has the largest surface area of any organ of our entire body, and has an incredibly close relationship with our immune system. Pay close attention to your skin, and you'll have a good idea of your health status.

  • "M" wrote ... I am starting to wonder if doctors who make their living treating skin conditions are negligent or if there's actual malice in never exploring the cause of these problems.

(Sigh), I've had similar thoughts. I try to place myself in my doctors' shoes, and I haven't yet figured out why they can toss off our concerns so easily.

Doug developed an SD sensitivity following sunscreen exposure, and subsequent cleaning and removal via scrub mitts.
  • Please join me in welcoming Doug to the sensitive skin family. 
  • Doug supplements with probiotics to improve digestion and nutrient uptake.

For his sensitive skin, he now follows this routine:
Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser - let face air dry For daytime, Neutrogena Combination Skin Moisturizer  
For nighttime, Cetaphil Sensitive skin moisturizer cream  
Once a month application of 1% hydrocortizone cream with aloe in the corners of nose and ear canals (irritation arises from ipod earbuds at the gym - I wonder if this could be a chemical sensitivity to something in the earbuds???)  
Using the extra suds from shampooing with Head and Shoulders as a face wash, finishing with Cetaphil cleanser   
Doug's better than I am and NEVER uses hot water! He's also given up his chemically laden sunscreen and uses sunblock from Keys Soap. Being zinc oxide based, it normally "wouldn't" absorb into the skin ... however, Keys Soap sunblock uses nano sized particles of zinc oxide. And, well, science (and regulating government) hasn't figured out how to deal with nano sized particles in absorbable/ingestible material yet. Keys Soap isn't hiding their ingredients, but they aren't drawing attention to them either.   
Doug made the excellent suggestion to bring your own face towel to gym. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, you might want to bring another towel to minimize direct contact with the equipment. Also remember to regularly wash your pillow cases and sheets.

Being that several of us have pinpointed casein or gluten as a major factor in our SD, I'm really interested in Doug's report of his diet adjustments.

Doug tried psoriasis face wash and face cream from the Home Health line of products and reports positive results. In the words of a friend, "They didn't do squat for me." But this only highlights how many difficulties and complications this condition presents.

I hope the additional information helps.


Jessica said...

It's interesting that some people with SD got better after eliminating gluten and dairy from their diets. I already had Celiac Disease and had been gluten and dairy free for 3 years before I developed SD! I am certain that my diet is 100% gluten free because I don't eat packaged foods... just chicken, rice, corn, fruits, etc. I have SD only on my face. I used a harsh cleanser that destroyed the skin barrier in 2007 - Kiss My Face fruit scrub to be exact. The skin was irritated for months until one morning I woke up with a huge blistering rash on my face that left permanent red marks and uneven patches. I've had SD ever since. Moisturizer either comes off in dry flakes or little sticky balls.

I'm using Desert Essence gluten free lotion on my face right now, which is helping to clear up the overly tight, pulled skin I got after using a cleanser my dermatologist gave me. Most face products have traces of gluten in them. Dermatologists have been particularly unhelpful about gluten. They claim it's safe for Celiacs to use it on their skin, but my eyes swell like beach balls when I use anything that doesn't say it's gluten free.

I'm not sure how anyone with SD could use mineral makeup. I had to quit using it because it makes the flakes and dryness 10x worse. Once your skin gets damaged, mineral makeup really burns.

Anonymous said...

I'm very grateful for stumbling across this blog. I am 17 and have been diagnosed with seborrheic dermatitis for the past four months.

It affects mainly my cheeks and broaches on my jawline; terrible red, scaly, even shiny patches which are so so unsightly. I'm much too self-conscious to leave the house; in fact, now that the summer holidays have arrived, I haven't left the house for over a month. I feel so alienated from my friends; I just want to live my life in the way a teenager does, but I am much too self-conscious (I have social anxiety) but the SD makes me even more so.

My skin did use to be so flawless, so I never have had the need to wear makeup, but this problem has so suddenly arisen out of somewhere and it is such a big downer. My stress levels have been out of this world lately, due to school exams and being socially anxious and lately I have been eating a lot of pasta and bread (before discovering that these foods are big big culprits in the SD problem.) So all this has not been helping, at all.

I'm not very sure where to start in solving this problem. I have always cut out dairy from my diet, as I have suffered from eczema since birth, and this already has left me with such a limited range of foods to consume. I read that an overgrowth of yeast in the system plays a great part in seborrheic dermatitis, and I wondered whether an internal cleanse will be most effective in flushing out all toxins and harmful bacteria in the system - although I am not sure how effective this will be. Perhaps from then on I will start going gluten-free, but I read your blog post wherein you wrote that gluten is sometimes not included in the food labelling? This is surely insane, and will make the fight even more long and difficult, and I do lose hope at the worst of times...

Your perseverance has however motivated me somewhat and I am very glad that you have found a solution to your problem.

(I apologise for the rant, I just feel at a loss.)

- C, UK

Kira said...


What mineral makeup were you using? Unfortunately, several (cough, cough ... many) mineral makeup companies use fillers in their ingredients.

It may be that a mineral makeup you used had an allergen filler that you can't handle.

Additionally, most vitamin E is wheat based ... gluten. Any added oil could very well have given you problems.

There's only a couple of mineral makeup companies I've heard of that don't use fillers, and only one I know of that is gluten free - "Afterglow Cosmetics". I've never tried them, so I can't recommend.

Just like food, makeup and skin care for those of us with allergies is fraught with peril, and missteps, and itchy skin, and and and.

I feel for you.

Best of luck,

Kira said...


And when my Dad asked, "What's that crap on your face?" I could have cried.

I know how you feel.

I strongly suspect that the yeast problem is in response to, rather than a causative agent of, our skin condition.

Because of this (and several other reasons), I'm not a big fan of "cleansing" because your body naturally gets rid of toxins. And if your body can't get rid of them, nothing "safe" will.

However, having tried some pretty desperate measures of my own, I can't discourage anyone else's. You never know what's going to work until you try it.

Healthwise, there's only a couple of animals that don't handle fasting well (ferrets are one) and we certainly don't fall into this category.

I recommend your cleanse not last too long (a couple of days at most) and try to maintain as healthy a diet/lifestyle as possible during this time.

Searching for gluten free labels may be your best option in trying a gluten free diet. You can also look for rice and corn pasta, IMO pasta is a comfort food and very necessary at a time like this!

Let me know how it goes,

C said...

Thank you for replying. I will definitely let you know how things get on.

Can I ask, while you did have SD, did your skin 'flake' on rubbing it? I've taken to rubbing my face whenever it itches, and I see that my skin comes off too... I'm not sure whether this is a good or bad thing.

Another thing, over how long a timeframe did your skin improve to a point where you felt it somewhat restored to the state it was before developing SD?

Have a good day!

Kira said...


Depending on the severity of my outbreak I was either just red, or red and flaky. Luckily, I was never itchy, and could keep my hands away. (I've had poison ivy on my face, I've learned not to scratch.)

Your skin is already regenerating at a rapid rate (hence the symptoms you are experiencing), rubbing is just going to irritate the condition. But I'll admit to scrubbing my skin practically raw in the shower to stop/kill/affect whatever was causing my Seborrheic Dermatitis.

Once I discovered the underlying problem (milk allergies in my case) I noticed a vast improvement in my skin within two weeks. By one month post, no one believed I'd ever had problems.


C said...

I thought I'd get back to you on how I'm doing. Before, the seborrheic dermatitis was prevalent over most of my face; it was very red, scaly, shiny, obvious.

Now, having taken a variety of measures, I'm happy to say that for the most part my SD has gone!
I'm not sure what it was I did that managed to get rid of it but I have been improving my general health; exercising, eating healthily, cutting out gluten, being wary of labels, minimising stress levels. I have been taking natural supplements too to boost my immune system, and I do believe that candida was playing a part in my SD - I took some tablets to kill off candida yeast and I had terrible die-off systems.

I'm still not sure whether SD can completely be cured though, because now and then I do get very small (hardly noticeable) patches of it cropping up on my face, usually after when I've had a stressful day or have been letting my health slip.
What are your thoughts on this? Do you think SD can be cured, or only controlled?

Take care!

C said...

(*terrible die-off systems

This should read terrible die-off symptoms, not systems)

Kira said...


I think your ability to "cure" SD depends on the ultimate cause.

You've noticed that your symptoms return following stressful events (not taking care of your body is stressful).

In your case, I would suggest that you have both an allergic response as well as a stress response. And once you dealt with the allergic aspects, you only have to concern yourself with the stressful ones.

With such a rapid response as you are experiencing, it must seem like a "real time" reaction. An immediate effect from the stress. As such, you can carefully monitor your skin for changes.

As to the yeast - Once your stress response starts, yeast multiplies at a ridiculous rate.

Each stress response you have may be a two parter: skin responds to stress condition, and then the yeast population explodes.

It is good to read that you can keep such a tight rein on the outbreaks.

My best to your future health.


Arun Cheloor said...

I've narrated my experiences with Ayurveda somewhere else in the blog. Please go through it. I will be glad if any of you finds it useful. Thanks.

Anju said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anju said...

I totally agree with the comments about the uselessness of doctors/ dermatologists.

I have been suffering from hair loss for the last year....and although the derm did make the initial diagnosis of dandruff/SD....i believe his prescription made my scalp condition worse. Only after using Stieprox shampoo and Dermasone corticosteroid spray, i started noticing the itching and flakes sticking to my fingers everytime i touched my scalp.

The next time I went to the derm, he prescribed doxycycline to me. An antibiotic! for Acne! I bought it, researched it online, then decided never to take it.

I am now undergoing mild homeopathic treatment, giving it a shot, let's see how it goes, it cant do any harm. So far prescribed 'Phos Acidum' and 'Natrum Mur'. The homeopath is working to correct whats wrong with my system.......i get the impression its because my system cant handle certain things that everyone else can, so thats what needs to be corrected. One level deeper than the food allergy route!

My skin otherwise is totally fine. Thankfully, I have no rashes or pimples or anything.....the only thing visible about my condition is the continuously thinning hair. It is devastating. I have always been complimented on my mane.

Anyway, since I am trying to find the natural cure to this condition, I am totally going to be looking into food allergies after reading your site. I generally eat alot healthier than my friends and family, but eating healthy is one thing, not consuming something that provokes allergic reaction in you is another. I'm so sad I have to cut out booze, refined sugar....and possibly eating out. Food is my life. But vanity does take huge priority too :)

Forums like these are so important, i cant stress how much....since doctors are absolutely useless.

I have been using Aloe Vera and ACV topically....and also jojoba with lavender and tea tree oil. I'm really not sure if they are working yet. the aloe vera and ACV do provide immediate relief, but that may just be cuz they are cold liquids that create superficial comfort. I am more confused about my shampooing routine. All my shampoos contain SLS, but I dont know what alternative to use. Apparently the SD is caused by excessive sebum, which means i do need to get rid of the oil.......but i think the SLS irritates the SD at the same time?! what the hell does one do?

has anyone else lost hair due to SD?

Kira said...


Aloe Vera is generally considered soothing, but do be careful of the other vinegar and oils you are using.

ACV, Lavender, and Tea Tree Oil can irritate, especially if they aren't diluted enough.

The SLS question regards the strength of the detergent ... and I just don't have a great answer for that one. I'd look for shampoo with Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) OR Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES - less irritating) lower down in the ingredients list.

Detergents/foaming agents are drying by their very nature. And many of the "fragrance(s)" in a shampoo is either a detergent or another drying agent. Look for fragrance free (not just "Unscented").

As to the Hair - If your scalp is irritated enough, the hair follicles will stop producing. When you find the root of your problem, the follicles will begin to grow again.

While you are the first reader who has reported this condition, I am not surprised by your experience. I suspect many of us are in this same boat, but as my own SD manifested on my face, I didn't notice hair loss.


P.S. The sudsing/foaming of a shampoo from SLS/SLES doesn't mean anything. It's just a marketing ploy. "See all the foam, our shampoo really works" ... and strips all your oils away ... and dries your scalp ... but look! It REALLY works! :/