That pesky dandruff! That annoying seborrhea! We’ve talked about SD before, and how it is managed. Sometimes though, you just can’t get to your doctor fast enough, or you simply don’t have the time to visit the clinic. Your seborrheic dermatitis is flaring up: your scalp and face are itchy, flaky and red, and you just need some quick relief. What to do?
Salicylic acid is one of the mainstays of treatment in cases of SD. Be it in a shampoo, cream, or liquid form, the aim is to utilize its keratolytic properties, which basically means to get rid of dead skin cells that just won’t fall off on their own, leading to the big, greasy flakes associated with SD.
Hydrocortisone, on the other hand, is very useful on days when SD just suddenly decides to flare up, causing redness and itchiness that can drive one mad! It is very important, however, to know that long term corticosteroid use is not advisable in SD, as it can cause dependency and recurrence (meaning your SD simply won’t subside without it any longer), a problem that can take quite a while to fix.
So both salicylic acid and corticosteroid are good to have on hand: for the skin, a lotion, for the scalp, a liquid.
Two brands offer these substances in these forms, and I like how they are priced and the amount they offer per bottle. A bottle can last a long time (more so with the lotion than the liquid, but still).
Dermarest Eczema Medicated Lotion ($10.98, amazon.com):
Sure, it says eczema, but it can help with itchinessin SD, as it is basically a 1% hydrocortisone lotion with a bunch of moisturizers thrown in. It gives the needed soothing and moisture without any greasiness, and it dries off pretty quickly.
Again, it says psoriasis, but it is very useful in SD. This is a 2-3% salicylic acid product. I like that you get 2 options: either use the gel, let it dry, and apply your own preferred moisturizer on top, or just use the moisturizer and get 2 in 1.
Scalpicin Liquid Maximum Strength ($8.49, amazon.com):
Since the lotion would be a hassle to use on the scalp, this liquid offers that 1% hydrocortisone you need in liquid form. I prefer using liquids on the scalp over sprays. It is much easier to control with the nozzle where the liquid is going, and sprays tend to get all over the hair and not the actual scalp. So all in all, much less waste and a more fruitful application.
Now I know this says anti-itch, but it is not hydrocortisone. This is 3% salicylic acid. It is a well establish fact that salicylic acid, at such low concentrations, works also as an anti-inflammatory, not just a keratolytic. So yes, this will help with the itching a tad. And if your itching is not too severe, go for the salicylic acid, not the hydrocortisone.
Remember that the best thing that can be done for seborrheic dermatitis, aside from getting the proper treatment for your dermatologist is to actually try to control scratching the scalp or affected skin. The less itching, the quicker a flare up subsides.
Thank you for reading!
F. Rovelli et al. Seborrheic Dermatitis in Clinical Practice. Recenti Progressi in Medicina 2011; 102 (3): 126-33.
JQ. Del Rosso. Adult Seborrheic Dermatitis. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology 2011; 4 (5): 32-8.
JA. Schmidt. Seborrheic Dermatitis: a Clinical Practice Snapshot. Nurse Practitioner 2011; 36 (8): 32-7.