Seborrheic Dermatitis Prevention Methods
You may not hear the name seborrheic dermatitis all too often, but this itchy inflammatory skin condition goes by a few other names, one of which is all too familiar: dandruff.
This article will teach you how you tips on seborrheic dermatitis prevention. But before we can go in-depth into the techniques you can use, it helps to understand a little more about this common skin condition.
What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis is classified as a chronic form of eczema. It can show up anywhere on your body, not just on your scalp. Other common locations include the face, particularly around the nose, behind the ears, and on the upper back. Anywhere you have a lot of sebaceous glands (these are the glands in your body which produce oils), seborrheic dermatitis may appear.
You can get seborrheic dermatitis at any age. When it affects infants, it manifests as cradle cap. When it shows up in adults, it typically is a chronic condition. On your scalp, it causes dandruff—but you can get that same itching, flaking skin anywhere. It may sporadically flare and then lessen for extended periods of time.
There really is no “cure” for seborrheic dermatitis because pinning down the cause is a challenge. Doctors still have a poor understanding of this condition. As is often the case, irritation from a yeast referred to as Malassezia may be involved. In other circumstances, it may be the result of malnutrition, a weak immune system, nervous system faults, or hormonal fluctuations. In other situations there may also be a genetic component.
Regardless of the root cause, there are certain triggers which commonly play a role in flare-ups. The key to preventing seborrheic dermatitis is to identify and manage your triggers.
Steps You Can Take to Prevent Seborrheic Dermatitis Flare-Ups
- Get plenty of sleep.
Dermatitis has a tendency to flare during times of stress or low sleep. Since sleep deprivation and stress are intimately interconnected, this is not a surprise. When you lose out on sleep, you can more easily become stressed, and when you are in a state of high stress, you just end up losing even more sleep.
So do what you can to get a full night of sleep each night. This will help to prevent seborrheic dermatitis, and will also improve your overall quality of life.
- Reduce your stress levels.
While seborrheic dermatitis is commonly believed to be triggered by stress, there is a surprising lack of research in the area. Nonetheless, studies do indicate that there may be a very real link between dermatitis flare-ups and acute stressful episodes. Anxiety and depression appear to play a part as well.
So do what you can to unwind. There is no single right way to do this; you need to figure out what works for you. Mindfulness meditation works wonders for some people, while others find it easier to relax by getting outside and taking a walk or a jog. Make time for leisure activities you enjoy, even if you have a hectic schedule. Your skin will thank you.
Oily skin & shampoo usage to prevent recurring dermatitis problems
- Treat excessively oily or dry skin.
According to the American Osteopathic College of Dermatology, seborrheic dermatitis usually presents as excessively oily skin. Furthermore, oily skin may be one of the risk factors for developing a flare-up.
So if you have oily skin, you should take steps to balance out your sebum production for seborrheic dermatitis prevention.
Counterintuitively, this may actually involve using a moisturizer. Why? If your skin is severely dehydrated, your glands are going to try and compensate. When they overdo it, it can lead to heavy oil production and a veneer of greasiness.
When you moisturize your skin, it no longer is forced to overcompensate, and it will no longer feel dry or oily as a result. You should experience fewer dermatitis flare-ups.
- Shampoo your hair regularly.
How often do you shampoo your hair? Every day? Once every two or three days? Once a week or less?
Shampooing every day can be too harsh for both your hair and your scalp, but infrequent shampooing can also lead to problems. You can end up with a greasy scalp, and that in turn can lead to seborrheic dermatitis.
So make sure that you are shampooing your hair frequently enough as a seborrheic dermatitis prevention measure. How often should that be for seborrheic dermatitis prevention? The optimum schedule can vary from one person to the next, so you will need to do some experimentation to see what is ideal for you. In most cases, shampooing every 2-3 days is sufficient for preventing oily build-up without drying out your hair.
- Control your weight and eat a healthy diet.
Many nutrient mediators have been identified which may play a role in preventing seborrheic dermatitis. It is important to eat a nutritious diet which includes plenty of vitamins (A, E, D, C and B complex) as well as zinc and iron.
Obesity is a risk factor for seborrheic dermatitis as well, as noted by the University of Maryland Medical Center. So if you are currently overweight, now would be a great time to start a new exercise program to drop a few pounds. If you are already at a healthy weight, make sure you are working out and eating a balanced diet which will help you to maintain that weight. Otherwise you could see an increase in flare-ups in the future.
Good decisions to make if you want to minimize symptoms of seborrhea
- Avoid lotions which contain alcohol.
The University of Maryland Medical Center also indicates that using lotions which contain alcohol may increase your risk for dermatitis flares.
So check the ingredients list on the back of your lotion to see what it contains. If you are using a product which is alcohol-based, consider switching to something else.
One superb option is petroleum jelly. This is the key ingredient in many lotions, so it is going to provide you with the same fantastic results. It is cheap, and a little bit goes a long way. It doesn’t contain alcohol or the other dubious ingredients you find in many commercial lotions, and it does do an excellent job sealing in moisture. Remember to apply it on damp skin; applying a moisturizer to dry skin can actually make matters worse by locking moisture out.
- Spend time out in the sun.
Another thing you can do is get outside and spend more time in the sunlight. Exposure to sun can lead to improvements in a number of different skin conditions, including seborrheic dermatitis, acne vulgaris, rosacea and atopic eczema.
This is why you may notice that your seborrheic dermatitis tends to go into remission during the summer months, or at least reduce in severity. Flare-ups are more common in winter since we spend less time outdoors and the sky is frequently overcast.
- Eat less sugar.
Did you know that diet can also impact the health of your skin? Diets which are high in sugar or fat can lead to an increase in the amount of sebum produced by your glands. In fact, it has been discovered that seborrheic dermatitis patients typically consume a great deal more sugar than those who do not experience this pesky skin disorder.
Cut back on the amount of sugar you eat if you currently enjoy a lot of sweets. You may very well see improvements in your itchy, flaky skin.
Products Which Can Help You Manage and Control Seborrheic Dermatitis
One more thing you can do to try and prevent flares is to regularly apply products which help to keep seborrheic dermatitis at bay. There are a few different categories to be aware of.
- Antifungal cream: Backing up the theory that yeast is involved in seborrheic dermatitis, the condition responds well to a number of antifungal creams such as topical terbinafine, azole agents and selenium sulfide.
- Medicated shampoo: Using a medicated shampoo about twice a week can help to prevent flare-ups once seborrheic dermatitis is under control. Some examples for seborrheic dermatitis prevention include ketoconazole, zinc pyrithione, and coal tar.
- Prescription corticosteroids: In severe cases, topical corticosteroids may help you to treat and prevent seborrheic dermatitis. Keep in mind that they do have side effects, including thickening, thinning or darkening of the skin. Stretch marks may appear as well. So try other methods out first.
Not all dermatitis treatments which you can use on the scalp are safe to use on sensitive skin. American Family Physician provides an excellent comprehensive table which can help you to select a treatment which is suitable for the part of the body you need to treat.
Adjust Your Lifestyle and You Can Get Seborrheic Dermatitis Under Control
After months of itching and flaking, it may start to feel like seborrheic dermatitis is something you just have to accept. But this is a prevalent condition affecting millions, and there are tried and true methods for preventing flare-ups. Once you find the ones which work for you, you should find that it interferes a lot less with your everyday life. In fact, in many cases you can prevent severe flare-ups altogether. It just takes a commitment to long-term lifestyle changes for healthy skin and incorporating seborrheic dermatitis prevention methods.