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Seborrheic Dermatitis and Dandruff: 3 Steps to Treat Your Irritated Skin
People with seborrheic dermatitis (and its cousin, dandruff) know all too well the struggles of the condition. Between the flakes, redness, constant itching, and embarrassment, seborrheic dermatitis can be a source of frustration and confusion.
If it feels like you’ve tried everything, but nothing seems to work, you’re not alone. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel for your irritated skin.
WHY SEBORRHEIC DERMATITIS AND DANDRUFF ARE DIFFICULT TO CONTROL
There are two main reasons why most people with seborrheic dermatitis tend to struggle to clear up their skin. The first is that the fungus causing seborrheic dermatitis, known as malassezia, creates a biofilm shield that protects the skin from antifungal treatments. The second reason is that the fungus feeds on oils including coconut and almond oil, which are found in most skincare products.
To finally get peaceful skin, you will need to disrupt the biofilm on your skin and soothe your skin using products without most oils.
HOW TO DISRUPT THE MALASSEZIA BIOFILM
A biofilm is basically a biological shield that secures an organism in place and protects it from outside threats. An example of this is how bacteria can form biofilms that make them immune to antibiotics. In the same way, some species of fungi have evolved to form their own biofilm, which protects them from antifungal treatments.
What makes the biofilm even trickier to address is that biofilms tend to adapt quickly. If you’ve ever started using a new antifungal product (like a dandruff shampoo), experienced short-term relief, and noticed it stopped working, then you’ve witnessed the power of the biofilm’s ability to protect malassezia from fungicides.
In order to clear away the seborrheic dermatitis on your skin, the first step you have to take is to disrupt the biofilm so that your antifungal products can actually do their job. Five ways to deactivate this shield include:
One of the most common methods for disrupting the biofilm is either white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. To use vinegar to disrupt the biofilm, it is recommended to create a one-part vinegar to four-part water mixture and then apply it to the affected areas for a few minutes before rinsing it off.
2) Colloidal Silver
Colloidal silver, which are nanoparticles of silver, can be bought as a liquid product and applied directly to the skin to disrupt the biofilm. Silver nanoparticles showed substantial in vitro (petri dish) and in vivo (in the body) activity against fungal biofilms, according to a 2017 study.
3) Sugar Alcohols
Sugar alcohols like xylitol, erythritol, and sorbitol, which are commonly used in keto and zero-calorie snacks and recipes, are not only great at being a natural sweeter but are also remarkably effective at deactivating the biofilm shield protecting most malassezia! A one-part sugar alcohol to four-parts warm water solution applied directly to the skin seems to work well for most people.
4) Selenium Sulfide
Selenium sulfide is a chemical compound known for fighting fungi, relieving itching, and removing dry scaly patches on the scalp. Shown to be an effective disruptor of fungal biofilms, selenium sulfide is commonly found in products like Selsun Blue and Head & Shoulders.
Naturally occurring in milk, colostrum, sweat, tears, and other parts of mammals, lactoferrin is a protein that fights infection and safely disrupts biofilms. Since it is more commonly used as a consumable supplement and not often used topically to treat fungal conditions, it is rare to find a skincare option using lactoferrin. But if you suffer from systemic fungal overgrowth in your microbiome, it could be worth a shot. You could try using liposomal colostrum, which is a safe, natural source of lactoferrin.
HOW TO CLEAR THE MALASSEZIA FUNGUS
After disrupting the biofilm, next you need to remove the overgrowth of malassezia. There are both natural and chemical-based methods to fight and clear away the malassezia, including:
1) Raw Honey
Raw honey has been shown to be remarkably effective at treating seborrheic dermatitis. Unfortunately, this method also requires quite the time commitment, as the honey must stay on your skin for a longer period of time (approximately three hours every other day for a month).
Garlic has strong anti-fungal properties, especially when it is fresh and raw. To clear the malassezia from your skin using garlic, apply minced, pressed, or juiced garlic directly to the skin using a carrier such as honey.
3) Sea Salt
Salt is widely known to be both antibacterial and antifungal, so it is not surprising that there are numerous anecdotal cases of people dramatically improving their seborrheic dermatitis and fungal skin conditions using sea salt. When using sea salt to treat seborrheic dermatitis, dissolve the salt in warm water before slowly pouring the mixture onto the affected area and massaging it in.
4) Grapefruit Seed Extract
Like garlic and sea salt, grapefruit seed extract also has antimicrobial and antifungal properties and could help clear up the excess malassezia on your irritated skin.
5) Tea Tree Essential Oil
Tea Tree Essential Oil is one of the few oils that won’t work against you when treating seborrheic dermatitis. While most oils feed the malassezia on your skin, tea tree oil could help reduce it.
6) Salicylic Acid, Ketoconazole, Coal Tar, and Pyrithione Zinc
While we prefer to stay as natural as possible, we also recognize the power of modern science. Sometimes using a lab-made compound can tip the scales in your favor. You can add these to your routine by picking up almost any antifungal shampoo like Nizoral, Happy Cappy, T-Gel, or T-Sal. Just don’t forget to disrupt the biofilm first using one of the methods above!
HOW TO SOOTHE IRRITATED SKIN
Soothing your skin when you have seborrheic dermatitis can be quite tricky since most skin care products contain oil, which feeds malassezia. When looking for products to soothe your skin, you want to avoid oils with a fatty acid chain length between C11 and C24. Six products that could help soothe your skin without fueling the malassezia are:
Commonly used for sunburns and other skin conditions, aloe is widely known for its ability to reduce redness and soothe inflammation. Aloe is incredibly popular for a reason and is a great way to naturally calm irritated skin.
Methylsulfonylmethane (or MSM for short) is a naturally occurring, sulfur-based compound found in plants, animals, and humans. Studies have shown MSM can drastically reduce inflammation in humans while improving hydration of the skin.
Urea is a powerhouse ingredient. It’s a mild exfoliant and a strong humectant, meaning it gently removes dead skin cells, softens skin, and improves hydration. It can also improve the absorption of other cosmetic ingredients, creating a helpful synergistic effect. If you’re looking for a way to remove infected skin while moisturizing the skin underneath, finding a product with urea is a great choice.
4) MCT, Mineral, and Squalane
Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil is made from purified coconut or palm oil by extracting the caprylic and capric acid from the other fats. It is naturally anti-fungal and like tea tree oil, is one of the few oils that will not feed the fungus on your skin. When shopping for an MCT oil, it’s important to find one without lauric acid, since this will fuel the malassezia.
Like urea, sorbitol has humectant properties, making it a great ingredient to keep your skin hydrated and happy.
6) Hyaluronic Acid
As a powerful humectant, hyaluronic acid is in many skincare ingredients due to its ability to help hydrate the outer layers of skin by holding onto water.
SOLUTION: THE CALMING SEBORRHEIC SERUM
These three steps to soothe your seborrheic dermatitis can seem overwhelming. We understand the frustration, which is why we combined all three steps into one convenient formula.
The Calming Seborrheic Serum works by first disrupting the biofilm with xylitol and colloidal silver, and then clearing away malassezia with grapefruit seed extract, sea salt, colloidal silver, and tea tree oil. Finally, it soothes the skin with urea, MSM, and 200x concentrated aloe.
Try the Calming Seborrheic Serum for yourself and enjoy peaceful skin and peace of mind.