Have you ever suffered from itching and flaking of your scalp that simply won’t go away? Perhaps you’ve found these same flaky, oily patches elsewhere on your body, such as in your armpits or groin area, behind your ears or across your eyebrows? 

If so, you may be suffering from seborrhoeic dermatitis.

What do you need to know about this skin condition to stop it in its tracks and prevent it from coming back?

Seborrhoeic dermatitis (or seborrhoeic eczema) is a skin condition that results from an excess of Malassezia yeast on the body. It’s characterized by inflamed skin that becomes itchy and sensitive with flaky scales, most commonly appearing on the scalp, upper back, and nose area. This condition tends to cause redness in lighter-skinned people or light patchy marks on darker skin. 

Malassezia yeasts are found on all humans’ skin surfaces, making up part of our natural microflora. However, these fungi are also considered to be “opportunistic pathogens”; they can colonize areas with high concentrations of sebaceous glands given the right conditions. Malassezia yeasts are responsible for several skin conditions, including pityriasis versicolor, folliculitis, dandruff, and of course, seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Interestingly, seborrhoeic dermatitis, while most commonly caused by Malassezia yeast, can also result from acute stress, a genetic predisposition, or even an immune response to a certain trigger. Additionally, it can also look like other skin disorders, so it’s important to get the right diagnosis.

Who Is Most Likely to Suffer From Seborrhoeic Dermatitis?

While everyone has the capacity to suffer from seborrhoeic dermatitis, some people are more susceptible than others. Adult men between the ages of 30 and 60 are statistically more likely to suffer from this condition than women. However, trichologists at the Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic see an equal spread across male and female patients and have observed first occurrences of the condition commonly being triggered by high periods of stress during exams, moves to university and new job starts as a few examples.

Other common factors that tend to make people more sensitive to seborrhoeic dermatitis than others. These include:

  • Pre-existing medical conditions such as HIV, Parkinson’s disease, or psoriasis
  • Lifestyle factors such as alcoholism or eating disorders
  • Ongoing depression or stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Recovery from a heart attack or a stroke
  • The frequent use of cleaning products or soaps with strong chemicals
  • Certain medications

As noted, this disorder can look like other skin issues so it’s important to know exactly what you’re dealing with before treating the problem. 

What Treatments Are Available?

If you are one of the many people that are prone to seborrhoeic dermatitis, you may experience a pattern of flare-ups and clearing over the years. As we’ve seen, your body responds to triggers such as stress or illness in various ways, resulting in a weakened immune response to the pathogens causing your dermatitis. 

Nevertheless, following a careful and thorough skin and scalp care routine is the first step toward controlling seborrhoeic dermatitis. The right scalp and hair care products suggested by a qualified trichologist are the best way to manage inflammation, remove the scaly build-up on the scalp and control the symptoms ongoing, whilst the triggers are identified and managed.

Whilst corticosteroids and anti-fungal shampoos are often reached for, the Fulham Scalp & Hair Clinic has developed a treatment plan that is not only effective at controlling this flaking and itching condition, but is also at caring for the hair, whilst avoiding, steroids, antibiotics or harsh shampoos.

Remember though, that seborrhoeic dermatitis is not caused by poor hygiene, although it is best rectified and prevented by a good cleansing routine with the right products to allow the skin barrier to heal properly.

Certain ingredients can assist in this arena such as:

Coal Tar and Cade Oil

Coal tar and Cade Oil are classified as a keratoplastic which works by shedding dead skin cells and slowing down the growth of new skin cells. It reduces dryness and scaling and it can relieve itchiness associated with dermatitis. 


Cetrimide is an antiseptic ingredient that helps to effectively cleanse the surface of the skin to ensure the skin barrier can heal and recover without further impact from infection.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid works as a peeling agent to break down and shed dead skin cells which makes it effective for treating dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Found naturally in the bark of willow trees, this acid helps to exfoliate the outer layer of skin and break down the waxy sebum that produces flaky, itchy skin. It also has mild antibacterial and anti-fungal properties

Selenium Sulfide

Selenium sulfide is an anti-infective agent that works to relieve itching and flaking of the scalp. When applied in a shampoo, it helps to remove scaly skin and as an anti-fungal agent, it also helps to prevent the growth.

Zinc Pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties which makes it an excellent treatment for inhibiting the growth of yeast, bacteria and other microorganisms.

Remember, it’s never a smart move to leave a skin disorder and hope that it gets better on its own. In some cases, seborrhoeic dermatitis can clear up by itself. However, it can also worsen and become painful, swollen, and start to secrete pus. 

Seeking Treatment

As qualified trichologists, we are acutely aware of the variety of disorders that can cause problems with your scalp and hair. This is our key area of focus so we know exactly what we are looking for, and can offer a quick, accurate diagnosis. 

If you’ve been diagnosed with seborrhoeic dermatitis, or you recognise these symptoms mentioned above, please feel free to contact us. We assist both men and women in our clinic and specialise in delicate Afro hair and we’d love to help you.

M Hamilton
M Hamilton
Great clinic very knowledgeable staff, after one treatment I have seen a great difference in the condition of my scalp. All products are made on site and although expensive you know you are paying for quality
Emma Halsey
Emma Halsey
Recently my scalp became very itchy and flaky. I noticed my hair was falling out too. I went to the GP several times but my scalp condition did not change. I decided to visit Fulham Salp and hair clinic. The team at the clinic are lovely. They explained what was happening to my scalp and hair and gave me many ideas how to look after the condition including ideas on diet. I did buy some of their products, which are amazing BUT it was NOT a hard sale, I could have easily left without purchasing their products. I am pleased to say that just a few weeks on my scalp is no longer scabby, itchy or flaky. My hair is not falling out either. Thank you fulham scalp and hair clinic I 100% recommend going to this clinic if you have any problems with your hair and/or scalp
Sukhbir Singh
Sukhbir Singh
This clinic has been a wonderful find. I have scalp psoriasis and have found following Eleanore's instructions and treatment plan has helped me so much. Thoroughly recommend them.
Nazmul Hussain
Nazmul Hussain
I came here because I was doing research online and found that the clinic focuses on hair, in my case being premature greying and was the most affordable. When I arrived, I didn't know what to honestly expect. I was welcomed in by Eleanor who my consultation was with too, she made me feel calm and collected and thoroughly answered all my questions I had for her. Going through my lifestyle, health and diet. She also done an analysis on my hair with genuinely better answers than I was expecting (excluding minor seb-derm) and took some photos of my hair for a follow-up for later in the year. All in all, even though my main issue wasn't solved being premature greying which is genetic, I would give the service provided by Eleanor a perfect score.
Janeth Sallaby
Janeth Sallaby
Great service, knowledgeable and supportive.
leena soliman
leena soliman
Came here when I had some issues and they were able to help massively! They are not like other claimed trichologist that want to scare you and take your money, they are backed up with their qualification and experience. Reasonably priced consultation, treatment and products!
Nicolette Cummings
Nicolette Cummings
professional, helpful and with excellent customer service
zoe Inn
zoe Inn
From my first consultation, I knew this was the right place for my hair.Teresa and Eleanore are very caring. The treatments are also very relaxing and my hair adores their products!
Cecilia Morgan
Cecilia Morgan
Fantastic clinic, such a lovely family run business. Their treatments and products are great! If you're considering going, just book it.
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