Does TCM for Seborrheic Dermatitis Really Work?

tcm for seborrheic dermatitis 1 - chinese herbs can treat your dermatitis -chinese doc singapore

This image (above) shows the patient’s scalp on the first visit. Seborrheic Dermatitis is most easily spotted as dandruff in the scalp. It is flaky, itchy and sometimes red and inflamed as in the case of our patient here.

Seborrheic Dermatitis as it presents on the scalp can be treated just with Chinese herbs alone.

tcm for seborrheic dermatitis 2 - chinese herbs can treat your dermatitis -chinese doc singapore

The herbs are able not just to reduce inflammatory load on the scalp, but also help balance out the imbalance in the body that is causing the scalp to be flaky, itchy and inflamed.

The second visit is 3 weeks later (see 2nd image). The scalp is already feeling slightly less inflammed.

tcm for seborrheic dermatitis 3 - chinese herbs can treat your dermatitis -chinese doc singapore

One month after the second consultation, with regular use of Chinese herbs, we see further improvement in the condition of the scalp.

The 3rd image shows the patient’s scalp about 7 weeks after the first consultation.

Doesn’t Seborrheic Dermatitis only happen to infants?

tcm for seborrheic dermatitis cradle cap face eczema infant eczema infant seborrheic dermatitis chinese doc singapore

Yes, Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis is what happens to babies.

  1. It is known as Cradle Cap when it is on the scalp and face.
  2. It is known as Nappy Rash if found around the groin.

When it happens to babies, it is very good at spreading.

  1. From the face, it can spread down to the neck and armpits.
  2. From the groin area, it can spread down the inner thighs or up to the umbilicus/naval.

How does Infant Seborrheic Dermatitis Occur?

SD may develop in infants due to hormonal changes that occur in the mother during pregnancy. The fluctuating hormone levels may then stimulate the infant’s oil glands to produce excessive sebum.

  1. Seborrheic Dermatitis in infants may first appear when the infant is between 2 weeks to  6 months old.
  2. While the infant’s skin seems to be inflammed, there is little to no itching. For this reason, you don’t see the lichenification that is common in Atopic Dermatitis. You will see lichenified skin in infants with Seborrheic Dermatitis, but you won’t see them in Psoriasis.
  3. If a child suffers from Infantile Seborrheic Dermatitis, it really doesn’t bode well. There is a higher likelihood that the child may develop Atopic Dermatitis or Psoriasis later in life.
tcm for seborrheic dermatitis scalp dermatitis excessive sebum production dandruff

What can I do about Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Your dermatologist might have already put you on topical steroids (creams, ointment, oil, etc) or medicated shampoos.

If you want an inside-out approach, consider TCM for Seborrheic Dermatitis.

This method may may involve ingesting herbs that don’t taste so good, but are effective.

If you respond well to TCM, it would the best decision you made to treat your dandruff Seborrheic Dermatitis!

Take the first step towards improving your seborrheic dermatitis condition! Schedule a consultation by filling out the form below or simply send us a WhatsApp message!

We need your name.
For us to schedule appointments with with you via whatsapp.
For us to send you electronic copies of invoices or for other correspondences.

TCM can treat Seborrheic Dermatitis.

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Before we continue sharing about Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis, let’s go over what Seborrheic Dermatitis is.

  • Seborrheic Dermatitis is a skin condition linked to sebum production by the sebaceous glands.
  • The skin lesions often show up as greasy and scaly patches. The areas of the body most affected are those rich in sebaceous glands — this includes the scalp, face, upper back, and for some people, the groin and armpit.

As you read on, you will realize it is sometimes not so straight forward, how Seborrheic Dermatitis is diagnosed. It is often confused with skin conditions as disparate as Fungal Infection, Rosacea, Atopic Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Pityriasis Rosea and even Pityriasis Versicolor.

Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis

There are two common classifications of Seborrheic Dermatitis in Chinese Medicine. They relate specifically to the Scalp vs the Face:

Seborrheic Dermatitis of the Scalp:

  1. This is called Bai Xiao Feng (White Scales Wind) in Chinese Medicine.
  2. It starts with dandruff of the scalp, which then extends beyond the hairline (this is called “Corona Seborrhica”).
  3. It may also spread behind the ears, leading to greasy scale and fissures behind the ears.
  4. At a later stage, there may be reversible hair loss.

Seborrheic Dermatitis of the Face:

  1. This is called Mian You Feng (Roving Face Wind) in Chinese Medicine.
  2. The affected areas include the inner eyebrow, the eyelids (blepharitis), the nasolabial folds, and may spread all over the face.
  3. It may be mis-diagnosed as Rosacea, Acne or even Eczema.
tcm for seborrheic dermatitis perioral dermatitis beard dermatitis itchy folliculitis skin inflammation seborrhea

Other areas affected in adult Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic Dermatitis of the Torso:

  1. This is often seen in on the chest and in the upper back of men.
  2. These is where sebum is rich, where there are abundant hair follicles.

Seborrheic Dermatitis of the Groin and Armpit:

  1. This may show up as red and sensitive skin, but may also turn into weepy lesions.
  2. It can be confused with jock itch, eczema in the groin or acne inversa.

What is Malassezia?

Malassezia is a type of yeast that naturally occurs in the skin’s oils. When it multiplies more than usual, it may cause an inflammatory response in the skin, which then triggers excessive oil production.

Malassezia is in abundance on skin affected by Seborrheic Dermatitis. It is also present in cases of Pityriasis Versicolor as well as Eczema / Atopic Dermatitis.

What is Sebum?

Sebum is this sticky and oily substance that our body produces in order to keep the skin moisturized.

  1. Sebum is made up of fat molecules, wax and squalene.
  2. Sebum is par for the course if you suffer from seborrheic dermatitis. People with seborrheic dermatitis produce too much sebum. And even though sebum is just the oil that your body produces, it ends up being the breeding ground for pityrosporum yeast along with other kinds of bacteria.
  3. Sebum is the reason why the skin remains chronically inflammed in seborrheic dermatitis.
  4. TCM herbs are able to balance out sebum production.

What are Sebaceous Glands?

what is sebum what is sebaceous gland tcm for seborrheic dermatitis dandruff scalp itch

Sebaceous glands are sebum-secreting glands that are concentrated on the face, back and chest.
Sebaceous gland activity is stimulated by androgens (sex hormones including testosterone and dihydrotestosterone), which explains why men are twice as likely than women to develop Seborrheic Dermatitis.
What is interesting is this: High sebum activity gives rise to Seborrheic Dermatitis and Acne, yet its presence is disproportionately low in Atopic Dermatitis and Eczema!

What are some factors that put you at risk?

tcm for seborrheic dermatitis males more likely to get seb derm adult seborrheic dermatitis chinese doc singapore

There are 4 major factors that increase your risk of seborrheic dermatitis.

  1. Gender: Males often have increased androgen activity which causes seborrheic dermatitis to grow and fester.
  2. Stress: If you are stressed, it only ends up aggravating the existing inflammation in the body and the skin.
  3. Hygiene: Poor skin and hair care practices only helps pitysporum and bacteria to fester in your excess sebum.
  4. Humidity: Hot and humid weather conditions aggravate sebum production. People who perspire easily but do not shower frequently are most at risk.

5 Phases of Seborrheic Dermatitis

The pathogenesis of this condition can be categorized into five different phases.

  1. Sebaceous glands secrete lipids onto the skin surface.
  2. Malassezia yeasts colonizes areas that are covered with lipids.
  3. Lipase (an enzyme) is secreted by Malassezia, resulting in the generation of free fatty acids (FFA) and lipid peroxides that activate the inflammatory response.
  4. The immune system generates cytokines, such as IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-2, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12 and TNF-α. This stimulates keratinocyte proliferation and differentiation.
  5. Skin barrier disruption with resulting clinically evident erythema, pruritus and scaling.

Seborrheic Dermatitis or Eczema?

Seborrheic Dermatitis lesions sometimes look like Atopic Dermatitis / Eczema lesions. One reason is that The main reason why they can be similar is because the same commensal yeast lives off both Seborrheic Dermatitis and Eczema lesions. This yeast is called Malassezia or Pityrosporum.

Over time, some Seborrheic Dermatitis lesions around the ears may fissure and resemble the cracks you see in Eczema. Those around the upper back may erode and crust and show up like the erosions and crusts common in Eczema lesions.

The differences are most obvious in infants:

  1. Itch: In an infant, eczema is always itchy, and the child tends to be upset by the rash, with scratch marks being a common finding. Meanwhile, Seborrheic Dermatitis isn’t always itchy for  infants.
  2. Area affected: Seborrheic Dermatitis may often spread to the diaper area in infants, while eczema in infant do not usually affect the buttocks.

Seborrheic Dermatitis or Psoriasis?

scalp psoriasis tcm psoriasis treatment chinese medicine

In fact, Malassezia is also present in Psoriasis, making it sometimes very difficult to differentiate Seborrheic Dermatitis from Psoriasis (More on TCM for Psoriasis here!)

Both Psoriasis in its nascent phase and Seborrheic Dermatitis may show up as greasy, scaly patches along the hairlines, around the ears, near the inner eyebrow.

That said, there are some ways to differentiate Psoriasis from Seborrheic Dermatitis:

  1. Look and feel: Once they develop beyond the nascent phase, Psoriasis lesions tend to show up as thicker, with a clearer border than Seborrheic Dermatitis lesions.
  2. Scales: Psoriasis scales are often less greasy, and drier.
  3. Auspitz sign: If you try to scratch or pluck off psoriasis scales, they will probably bleed and become thicker and itchier. On the other hand, SD patches are usually easy to remove with no bleeding.
  4. Colour: Psoriasis can appear as red or pink with silver-white scales, while the scales in SD tend to be more pinkish-yellow with yellowish flakes and a greasy appearance.
  5. Area affected: Psoriasis tends to extend beyond the hairline and usually affects more than one area of the body. If you have Scalp Psoriasis, you may have mild psoriasis on your elbows, knees or lower back too.
  6. Nail Changes: You are more likely to see nail pitting or dents in a mature Psoriasis presentation.
  7. Arthritis: About one-third of people with psoriasis get a form of arthritis as the disease gets worse. This pain can be classified as rheumatic pain and is also autoimmune in origin. Seborrheic Dermatitis is not an autoimmune skin condition.

When it is hard to differentiate both of them, there is also a medical label called Sebopsoriasis! For real!

Seborrheic Dermatitis or Rosacea?

If a person presents only with Seborrheic Dermatitis of the Face, it can be difficult to differentiate from Rosacea.

  1. Color: Rosacea tends to present as blushing or flushing with visible blood vessels on the face, while Seborrheic Dermatitis typically appears as yellow greasy patches.
  2. Flushing: Rosacea most prominent characteristic is telangiectasia, which widening of the tiny blood vessels on the face. These dilated blood vessels cause threadlike red lines or patterns on the skin. Seborrheic Dermatitis does not present like this, and just appears as dull pink.
  3. Areas affected: Seborrheic Dermatitis often affects the forehead and eyelids, while Rosacea lesions usually start out at the sides of the nose and cheeks. 
  4. Bumps: Rosacea lesions are also more ‘bumpy’ and ‘pimply’ compared to the flat and scaly lesions seen in Seborrheic Dermatitis.

What can we do to help your Seborrheic Dermatitis?

You may already be steroids or medicated shampoos. You may have found some improvement and are looking for a more holistic approach.

If that is you, do consider TCM for Seborrheic Dermatitis. Our method involves ingesting herbs that don’t taste so good, but are effective. If you respond well to our approach, it would the best decision you made to treat your dandruff Seborrheic Dermatitis!

Book in for a Consultation if you suffer from Seborrheic Dermatitis. We may be able to help.

We need your name.
For us to schedule appointments with with you via whatsapp.
For us to send you electronic copies of invoices or for other correspondences.