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What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis And How Is It Connected To Hair Loss?

The Shapiro MD Team


Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic skin condition that affects between 3 and 10 of every 100 people in the U.S. Although babies, teenagers, young adults, and people over 50 may develop the condition, it’s more common in men than women.

Seborrheic dermatitis mainly affects the scalp. Symptoms can be managed, but flare-ups may occur from time to time.

There is currently no cure for seborrheic dermatitis, though there are a variety of treatments—creams, ointments, and shampoos—that can keep the condition under control.

In this article, we take a closer look at what seborrheic dermatitis is, as well as its symptoms and treatments. We’ll also explain how you can regrow hair lost due to seborrheic dermatitis.


  • Seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin condition that can lead to temporary hair loss.
  • Other skin conditions, such as dandruff, psoriasis, and eczema can be confused with seborrheic dermatitis, but there are clear distinctions.
  • Certain risk factors, such as genetics, illness, and stress leave some people more prone to premature hair loss than others.
  • With the right products, most types of hair loss—except scarring alopecia—are treatable.

What Is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis or fungal skin infection

Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that is characterized by patches of inflamed, itchy skin and yellow scales, especially on the face and scalp.

Other regions of the body where there are more sebaceous glands, such as the armpits and groin, may also be affected.

When the condition occurs in infants, seborrheic dermatitis is called cradle cap.

This happens when the glands surrounding hair follicles produce excess oil, causing a white or yellow crust on the baby’s scalp.

Seborrheic dermatitis can also appear elsewhere on the body, especially in folds of oily skin, and may be mistaken for diaper rash in babies.

Seborrheic dermatitis is not life-threatening or contagious, but it can cause discomfort and emotional distress without proper treatment.

What Are the Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis may be confused with conditions such as dandruff, eczema, and psoriasis.

A health care professional will be able to rule out these other conditions by testing some of your skin cells through a biopsy. This will ensure that you get an accurate diagnosis of seborrheic dermatitis and not mistake it for another skin condition.

Here are some of the symptoms you may experience if you have seborrheic dermatitis:

  • Greasy, flaky skin on the scalp, eyebrows, or beard.
  • Yellow or white scales (layers of flaking skin) or crusted skin on the face or other parts of the body, such as the chest, armpits, or groin.
  • Red/inflamed skin.
  • Intense itchiness in affected areas.
  • Thinning hair.
  • Temporary hair loss.

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What Are the Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Although the precise cause of seborrheic dermatitis is not known, there’s reason to believe this inflammatory skin condition is the body’s reaction to an overproduction of Malassezia yeast.

This yeast naturally exists on the skin’s surface, but too much of it triggers an immune response that results in seborrheic dermatitis.

Some of the risk factors associated with seborrheic dermatitis are:

  • A weakened immune system, due to conditions such as HIV or cancer.
  • Parkinson’s Disease.
  • Recovery from stressful events, such as a stroke or heart attack.
  • Certain medications.
  • Genetics.
  • Eating disorders.
  • Alcoholism.
  • Depression.
  • Acne.
  • Rosacea.
  • High cholesterol levels.
  • Emotional stress.

Food For Thought: Does the Weather Cause Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Although colder weather tends to make the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis worse, the climate itself cannot cause or trigger the condition.

However, if you live in a region with a cold, dry climate, you may experience more severe symptoms, and it may be difficult to treat seborrheic dermatitis under these conditions.*

How Can Seborrheic Dermatitis Cause Hair Loss?

Seborrheic dermatitis is not a direct cause of hair loss, but because the condition causes a flaky, itchy scalp, this may lead to excessive scratching.

Constantly scratching your head can damage hair follicles, causing hair to fall out and making it difficult to regrow.

However, this hair loss is easily remedied and the hair can regrow once the individual has completed treatment for seborrheic dermatitis.

As mentioned earlier, excess sebum causes an overgrowth of Malassezia fungus.

This results in further scalp inflammation and more damage to hair follicles, resulting in increased hair loss.

Scalp inflammation can also prevent natural hair growth, and if the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis are not controlled, constant skin irritation could lead to hair loss.

So, by controlling the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, you’ll decrease your chances of losing hair due to the condition.

Seborrheic Dermatitis vs. Dandruff: What Are the Differences?

Seborrheic dermatitis is sometimes mistaken for dandruff as both conditions are accompanied by dry, flaky skin.

To know whether you require a dandruff shampoo or a medicated shampoo designed to increase hair growth, you need to know the difference between these two conditions.

Seborrheic dermatitis Dandruff
Starts with a reaction to fungi on the skin. Starts with a reaction to fungi on the skin.
May occur on the scalp, nose, eyebrows, upper chest, behind the ears, under the armpits, in the groin area, or in other skin folds. Usually occurs on the scalp, but can occur anywhere on the body where hair grows.
Characterized by white and yellow scales, greasy plaques, and reddened skin. Characterized by tiny white flakes on the scalp and hair.
Likely to cause itching. May or may not cause itching.
Can cause temporary hair loss if the individual scratches their scalp often. Can cause temporary hair loss if the individual scratches their scalp often.
Generally considered a severe condition. Generally considered a mild condition.

What Are Some Other Causes of Hair Loss?

Depending on the cause of your hair loss, it may be easier or more difficult to treat, while certain types of hair loss are irreversible.

Here are some reasons you may suffer from hair loss:

  • Genetics: If there’s a history of premature hair loss in your family, you have a higher chance of being affected by it.
  • Alopecia areata: This disease causes the immune system to attack hair follicles, which then causes hair loss.
  • **Scarring alopecia: **This condition causes inflammation that destroys the hair follicles so that hair is unable to grow from them.
  • **Cancer treatment: **Chemotherapy and radiation therapy can cause the hair to fall out.
  • Incorrect hair care: Coloring, perming, relaxing, or wearing hairstyles that tug at your scalp can all result in hair loss.
  • Hormonal imbalances: Birth control pills and conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can cause hormonal imbalances that lead to hair thinning or hair loss.
  • Infection: If the scalp develops an infection, hair may be lost in this area.
  • Medication: Certain medications can cause hair to fall out. If this happens, consult your health care provider.
  • Age
  • Childbirth
  • Illness
  • Stress
  • Pulling hair.
  • Poison.
  • A deficiency of protein, zinc, biotin, or iron.

Food For Thought: Can All Hair Loss be Treated?

If your hair loss has been caused by a temporary factor—such as chemotherapy or pulling the hair too tightly—then hair growth typically resumes once these factors are eliminated.

To help your hair regrow, you can also use hair loss treatments, such as Shapiro MD shampoos or topical treatments like minoxidil.

However, if your hair loss is a result of cicatricial alopecia (an inflammatory condition that permanently damages the hair follicles through scarring), it cannot be reversed.

Is There a Cure for Seborrheic Dermatitis?

At the moment, there is no known cure for seborrheic dermatitis. However, with the right treatment regimen, the symptoms can be managed.

Once your health care provider has ruled out other inflammatory conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, and rosacea, they may prescribe one or more of the following treatments:

  • Shampoos, ointments, and creams that fight inflammation.
  • Topical antifungals, like gels, creams, or shampoos.
  • Oral antifungal medication.
  • A variety of over-the-counter treatments.

Self-care also plays a big role in improving scalp health and minimizing skin irritation.

While prescription medication and professional medical advice can improve the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, there are also a few things you can do at home to keep your scalp healthy. This includes:

  • Removing the greasy scales from your scalp by soaking it in mineral oil and brushing your hair out thereafter.
  • Washing the skin regularly and thoroughly.
  • Avoiding harsh or stripping soaps.
  • Avoiding styling products while you’re treating seborrheic dermatitis.
  • Using only alcohol-free skin and haircare products.
  • Using baby shampoo to gently remove scales from eyelids and eyebrows.
  • Shampooing any affected facial hair.
  • Sticking to light, cotton clothing.

What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis Flare-ups?

There are certain triggers that cause seborrheic dermatitis to return. One or a combination of the following factors can cause seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups:

  • Increased stress levels.
  • Illness.
  • Hormonal changes.
  • Soaps.
  • Chemicals, such as harsh detergents.
  • Certain medications.

How Can I Treat Hair Loss Associated with Seborrheic Dermatitis?

It’s difficult for hair to grow when your body’s having an inflammatory reaction.

When you have seborrheic dermatitis, you first need to treat the condition before you can start with hair loss treatment.

There are a variety of prescription medications, medicated shampoos, and over-the-counter products that can be used to remedy hair loss.

  • Finasteride is a prescription pill for hair loss that’s available to men only. Women cannot take finasteride. Finasteride is proven to help grow more dense hair and slow hair loss.
  • Shampoos and Conditioners like those from Shapiro MD, which use natural ingredients that have been shown to fight hormonal hair loss triggers. These patented solutions are great for thicker-looking and healthier hair.
  • Topical minoxidil is another great hair loss solution that is FDA approved. It’s available OTC in 2% and 5% concentrations for women and men respectively. Minoxidil has been shown to help hair grow thicker and fuller.

Whether you’re suffering from temporary hair loss following a seborrheic dermatitis flare-up, or you’re looking to combat male or female pattern baldness, there are several prescription and over-the-counter options available.

What Are the Key Ingredients to Look for In Treatments?

There are a variety of powerhouse ingredients—derived from both nature and science—that can help to remedy hair loss.

Shapiro MD’s hair loss treatments are rich in some of the most effective natural ingredients for hair loss. By combining the best botanical extracts with modern medicine, we’ve created products that yield fantastic results.

We use FDA-approved medicines such as finasteride, tretinoin, and minoxidil, as well as natural ingredients like saw palmetto and green tea, to create hair regrowth systems for any hair type.

Among others, we use known DHT blockers in our hair treatment formulations. DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a hormone that interferes with healthy hair growth.

It affects the hair’s growth cycle and, in excess, can cause hair loss and balding. Products with ingredients that fight this hormone are great for hair loss treatment.

Listed below are some of the active ingredients used in Shapiro MD’s hair loss treatments:

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is a powerful botanical extract that inhibits DHT (which obstructs natural hair growth). When DHT is reduced in the body, it can help to regrow hair.

Green Tea

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is an effective compound found in green tea that decreases the effects of DHT.

Green tea can also increase blood flow to the hair follicles, supplying them with more nutrients for healthier-looking hair.


Research has found that caffeine stimulates hair growth, too. Hair products that use caffeine extract can help you grow hair that looks fuller, thicker, and healthier.


This FDA-approved medication can be used to treat hair loss in men by blocking the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, which causes male pattern baldness. In doing so, it reduces the amount of DHT that the body produces. As you know, DHT is a known hair loss trigger.

Finasteride is effective for most men who try it, but it has to be used consistently for about 3 months before significant results can be seen.

One study found that 1 mg of finasteride per day increased the total hair count of men suffering from hair loss.

At Shpiro MD, we offer finasteride oral capsules that can be taken on their own or used in combination with 5% Minoxidil for even greater results.

Tretinoin and Minoxidil

Minoxidil is an effective hair loss treatment when used on its own.

Minoxidil is the only FDA-approved treatment for hair loss in both men and women.

This drug is shown to slow the balding process and stimulate natural hair growth. It tends to work best in younger people who’ve recently experienced hair loss.

Tretinoin is another ingredient in Shapiro MD’s custom prescription blends that’s shown promise for hair regrowth in clinical studies and is used by dermatologists in private practice. The results are more striking when used in combination with minoxidil. One clinical trial showed that tretinoin combined with minoxidil showed better results than tretinoin used on its own.

How Do I Regrow Hair After Seborrhea?

If you’ve recently recovered from seborrheic dermatitis and you’d like to explore hair loss treatments that can help you regrow your hair, Shapiro MD can help.

We have prescription and over-the-counter treatments—from shampoos and conditioners to oral supplements and hair growth kits—to help you repair and regrow hair.

Maybe you come from a family that’s prone to premature hair loss and you want to get ahead of the situation? We also have a range of hair loss prevention products for you to explore.

Read the reviews from satisfied customers who’ve regrown their hair using our products, and take our free medical hair assessment to find out how you too can get the results you want.

Take our free hair quiz to find out which products are best for your situation––to regrow hair and regain your confidence.

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