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Does Seborrheic Dermatitis Cause Hair Loss?

Does Seborrheic Dermatitis Cause Hair Loss?

Seborrheic dermatitis can cause an itchy, flaky, and irritated scalp, and make your hair shed flakes on your shoulders. This is why it is often confused with dandruff, but this is a more serious issue. 

You have probably landed on this blog because you or anyone close to you are already experiencing seborrheic dermatitis and are curious to know if seborrheic dermatitis causes hair loss.

Don’t worry! We have got you covered. This blog is your comprehensive guide to seborrheic dermatitis and hair loss.

Can Seborrheic Dermatitis Cause Hair Loss?

Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that causes red, inflamed, flaky, greasy patches on the skin. It is not directly linked to hair loss. However, inflammation, itching, and irritation associated with it can cause temporary loss of hair.

Seborrheic dermatitis comes by many names such as Seborrheic eczema, cradle cap in babies, and seborrhea. It can appear on different parts of the body such as the eyebrows, behind the ears, and on the sides of the nose, but the most common place for it to appear is on the scalp. 

Seborrheic Dermatitis VS Dandruff Which One Is Worse?

Many people confuse seborrheic dermatitis with dandruff as both conditions have similar symptoms. The key difference between the conditions is that one is worse than the other. Here are some common differences between seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff that set them apart.

Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Seborrheic dermatitis is an extreme case of dandruff.
  • It appears on different parts of the body such as the scalp, nose, back, chest, and ears.
  • It is characterized by yellowish color scales and red moist skin
  • Redness and inflammation are common in seborrheic dermatitis.
  • It causes opaque, greasy scales.

Dandruff

  • Dandruff is a mild case of seborrheic dermatitis.
  • It mostly appears on the scalp only.
  • It is characterized by small white color flakes.
  • Inflammation and redness are less common in dandruff. 
  • It causes dry flakes.

What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair Loss? 

Some of the most common factors that may be causing seborrheic dermatitis hair loss are:

  • Increased Oil Production

Our skin and scalp produce an oil-like substance known as sebum. But when there is an increased production of sebum, it causes irritation and inflammation of the scalp. 

This irritation can cause itching. Scratching the scalp can hinder hair’s natural growth and cause them to fall out. 

This excess production of oil also works as a breeding ground for Malassezia yeast and supports its overgrowth. 

  • Overgrowth Of Malassezia Yeast

The most prominent cause of seborrheic dermatitis is the overgrowth of Malassezia yeast. Excess of this yeast on the scalp causes inflammation. This inflammation leads to the damage of hair follicles and makes it difficult for new hair to grow, which causes temporary hair loss. 

  • Scalp Inflammation

Scalp inflammation either caused by yeast or by excess sebum, disrupts the natural hair growth cycle of the scalp hair. In medical terms, this condition is known as ‘telogen effluvium’. 

This disruption causes a premature resting phase of the hair follicles, which means the scalp stops the growth of hair temporarily. This leads to the thinning and excess shedding of hair.

  • Excess Scratching

The inflammation, scaling, and flaking of seborrheic dermatitis can cause an itchy scalp. Vigorous scratching of the hair can weaken the hair shafts and damage the hair follicles which can cause temporary hair loss. 

Is Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair Loss Permanent?

Is Seborrheic Dermatitis Hair Loss Permanent

The good news is hair loss caused by seborrheic dermatitis is not permanent. The hair loss is either due to inflammation or scratching. 

Once the scaling, irritation, flaking, and inflammation associated with it are controlled and the scratching has stopped the hair regrows.

If you are still experiencing hair loss even after treating seborrheic dermatitis there are chances you may be experiencing other scalp conditions. Consult your dermatologist to get a proper diagnosis.

Androgenic Alopecia

This one goes by many names. Androgenic alopecia also known as androgenetic alopecia is more commonly known to Americans as male pattern baldness. It is a scalp condition that can coexist with seborrheic dermatitis. In this condition, there is loss of hair in a specific pattern, especially on the crown and receding hairline.

Androgenetic alopecia is caused by the overproduction of sebum on the scalp. This causes inflammation, irritation, and flaking. Due to the similar symptoms, it is often confused with seborrheic dermatitis.

The key difference between both skin conditions is that the hair loss from androgenic alopecia is permanent. Which is why timely diagnosis and treatment is vital.

Androgenic alopecia is more common in males between the age of 20 and 30 years. 

Can Seborrheic Dermatitis In Babies Cause Hair Loss?

Infantile seborrheic dermatitis is commonly known as cradle cap. It causes thick, greasy, crusty, yellow, or brown patches on the baby’s scalp. 

Almost half of babies of all ethnicities experience cradle cap in the first year of their life and with proper care and treatment it can be quickly relieved. But in some cases, it may persist and reappear as the baby grows older. Seborrheic dermatitis continues to affect 1 in 3 children under the age of 5 years old.

Hair loss caused by seborrheic dermatitis in babies, just like in adults, can be attributed to scratching, or picking of scales or when gently removing the scales with the help of a brush. 

Similar to cradle cap adults, in babies hair loss is also temporary. Once the inflammation and scaling are treated the scalp will promote a healthy hair regrowth. 

Seborrheic Dermatitis and Hair Loss Treatment

Does Seborrheic Dermatitis Cause Hair Loss?

For seborrheic dermatitis hair loss recovery it is important to first manage and control the scalp issue itself. We have listed down some of the most effective ways to manage seborrheic dermatitis symptoms.

Treatment For Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Medicated Shampoo

The first step in managing the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, especially the mild cases is the use of a medicated shampoo. It is essential to clean the hair regularly with a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo.

A shampoo that contains ingredients like pyrithione zinc is best. This ingredient is proven effective for controlling the malassezia yeast on the scalp that may be causing dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. 

During the flare-up, it is usually advised to wash the hair daily with a medicated shampoo and once the symptoms are alleviated taper the use to 2 to 3 times a week. 

  • Topical steroids

In severe cases, if the symptoms are not controlled with the use of a medicated shampoo the doctor may prescribe topical steroids. This  class of prescribed medication can help relieve inflammation, redness, and itching associated with seborrheic dermatitis. 

  • Calcineurin inhibitor

These are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory topical medications. These creams or ointments can be directly applied to the scalp. These creams contain ingredients that directly work by blocking the chemicals that may be causing the inflammation.

  • Phosphodiesterase-4 (PDE-4) inhibitor

This is another type of topical non steroid that could be prescribed by a physician to help treat seborrheic dermatitis.

Treatment For Cradle Cap In Babies

  • Cradle Cap Shampoo

The first step in managing a baby cradle cap is also regular washing of the scalp. 

Regular washing helps prevent future build-up of scales. While washing the baby’s hair gently massage their scalp with your fingertips this helps in making the scales soft and easier to remove. Washing the baby’s hair with a cradle cap shampoo that is specially formulated for the sensitive skin of babies can help quickly improve the appearance by reducing the symptoms of flaking, scaling and redness associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

  • Gentle Brushing

While bathing your baby use a soft-bristled brush or a cradle cap comb to gently remove the loose scales. Remember never to forcefully remove the scales as this can cause hair loss and infections on the baby’s scalp.

  • Antifungal Cream or Steroid Cream

If the cradle cap in newborns is not controlled by regular use of baby-medicated shampoo then consult a doctor. They may prescribe an antifungal cream or steroid cream.

Under the guidance of a physician, these creams can help reduce inflammation, irritation, and redness associated with the cradle cap. 

Conclusion

The hair loss related to seborrheic dermatitis is not directly caused by the condition itself. It is caused by inflammation, overproduction of sebum, and excess scratching. To manage hair loss associated with it, it is essential to first alleviate the symptoms. 

To effectively manage seborrheic dermatitis and cradle cap regular washing of the hair and scalp is the key. If the condition is not controlled by those initial steps, turn to an OTC medicated shampoo, if not improving then consult a healthcare provider who may prescribe topical steroids, or a calcineurin inhibitor, or even perhaps an antifungal cream to relieve the symptoms.

A medicated shampoo that is free from harmful chemicals and contains pyrithione zinc is one of the best for seborrheic dermatitis. 

Happy Cappy Medicated Shampoo contains pyrithione zinc. It is paraben-free, fragrance-free, dye-free, and sulfate-free and is specially formulated with licorice root extract to soothe redness. It helps eliminate scalp and skin scaling, redness, flaking, itching  and irritation associated with seborrheic dermatitis. Infused with moisturizing ingredients, apple fruit extract, glycerin, and provitamin b5, it will not only help you relieve the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis but will also keep your hair and scalp healthy.

FAQs

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Dr. Eddie Valenzuela is an award winning pediatrician and the founder and CEO of Pediatric Solutions, LLC.

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Will hair loss from seborrheic dermatitis regrow?

Yes, the hair lost due to inflammation and itching associated with seborrheic dermatitis will grow back naturally after the symptoms are controlled.

Can washing my hair every day with a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo cause hair loss?

Managing seborrheic dermatitis is priority number one. Eliminating itching and scratching will go a long way to ensuring good scalp health.

How long does it take for hair loss from seborrheic dermatitis to grow back?

Once the inflammation, itching, and scaling associated with seborrheic dermatitis is controlled the scalp will return to its natural life cycle of hair. The hair can start growing back within a few weeks.

Can cutting hair help you with seborrheic dermatitis?

Cutting your hair will not directly help with seborrheic dermatitis but it can make it easier for you to manage your scalp hygiene which can improve seborrheic dermatitis. The same would hold true for a baby with cradle cap.

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