Seborrheic dermatitis (SD) is a skin disorder found in oil-gland rich regions of the scalp, face and trunk that vary from mild (such as dandruff/eyelid scaling) to severe. Skin, often along the scalp hairline, may appear mildly scaling or have thick adherent crust on a red base.
Mild immune system abnormalities (T-cell depression, activated alternative complement pathway), autonomic nervous system imbalances, and some medications (cimetidine, griseofulvin) may all contribute to SD. Since fungus naturally colonizes skin, affected skin patches are susceptible to fungal infection.
Usually, SD can be identified visually, without biopsy. Treatments include: avoiding scratching; discontinuing hair products; dandruff shampoos containing selenium, tar, sulfur or zinc; antifungal creams or shampoos (like ketoconazole); and calcineurin inhibitors (like tacrolimus/Protopic). Topical steroids may work for a short time, but often produce a “rebound effect”: more severe SD recurrence when medication is discontinued. Very severe manifestations sometimes require oral medications, and should be managed by a dermatologist.
Seborrheic dermatitis can be refractory to both conventional and Eastern treatments. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, SD signals a complex of underlying imbalances: immune system (“Wei Qi”) derangement, “Lung/Heart” and “Lung/Liver” System Disharmonies, and “Deficiency Heat” affecting “Fluids” and “Blood”. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine address these underlying problems. Chinese home remedies related to building the Blood System, like goji berries, or Ayurvedic ones, like topical oils, may help as well.[2, 3]
Learn more about Seborrheic Dermatitis
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