Scalp and Facial Eczema: Seborrheic Dermatitis

By Cat, June 2019

Eczema is usually a sign the liver is over-worked, so it sends toxins to be excreted through the skin, resulting in irritation of the skin. This is usually a sign of a food sensitivity or other gut issue. When I was a teenager I had a pretty bad case of seborrheic dermatitis, one form of scalp eczema that is commonly called dandruff. It eventually went away, but now at age 70, it is back, affecting not only my scalp but also my nano-labial folds (area near each side of nose, or crease at each side of the mouth). (See Healthline: Eczema on Scalp (1A) or picture #3 on Healthline Pictures (1B) for more).

Scalp eczema can occur in people with Parkinson’s. I’m hoping that’s not the case for me  (but I do have a tremor in my hands).

It’s important to note that the treatments included in this post only treat the symptoms; to treat the root cause, you need to find out what in your diet, and/or parasite(s) is causing the trouble. See the section below: General Notes for Treating Root Cause of Scaly Scalp and/or Skin Lesions for more detail about treating the root cause.

NOTE: Eczema is often mistaken for psoriasis; see my Notes on Natural Healing Topics, H – P for my notes on psoriasis of the scalp; indeed, my doctor originally said I had scalp psoriasis, but I’ve determined it is eczema, based on newer symptoms.

Treating Seborrheic Dermatitis Symptoms:

Typical symptoms include: Dandruff, Scaly Lesions, Redness and Itchiness, especially in oily areas, or after washing the area (getting wet).

I’m trying homeopathic 6x Oregon grape (something I used when I had a flare-up in my 30s), but that doesn’t seem to be helping as quickly this time. I have been taking an herbal tincture for liver health (dandelion root, milk thistle seed and burdock root) for years (because of the toxins given off by my ascaris parasite), but it is not helping with this eczema. I’ve concluded the cause is a food sensitivity, perhaps to resveratrol/red grapes or to brie cheese which I eat every day with an apple..

I’m always open to ideas on articles by others on this topic. One such article is on Very Well Health: Eczema on the Scalp (9), as it has a good description of symptoms and causes. However, it recommends treatments I would never use, including corticosteroid. I prefer natural treatments from my own kitchen, such as coconut oil, honey, and apple cider vinegar, which work for me (see below).

Commercial treatments (of symptoms):

Try shampoos that include one of the following. Use every 2 days for 2 weeks, then taper off.  (See Everyday Health (4) and Wiki How  (5) for more): 

  • salicylic acid shampoo (from white willow bark), or aspirin (acetyl salicylic acid); Or add white willow bark extract to your regular liquid shampoo, about 1 tsp extract for each 5 ounces of shampoo. 
  • pyridine zinc shampoo (the active ingredient in most dandruff shampoos), 2-times a week (2)
  • tea tree oil shampoo: Use this 2 times a week (2). I’ve used this (Avalon Organics brand) off and on for the last year, but it hasn’t helped this outbreak.
  • Selenium sulfide shampoo for eczema on the scalp, caused by the yeast Malassezia furfur; use 2-times a week to kill the yeast (5). Or try an antifungal cream such as the synthetic ketoconazole cream on the face (see above).

After applying the shampoo, brush your hair with little rubber brushes made for the shower to work shampoo in and massage the scalp while eliminating flakes; these are called “brush and scalp invigorators” (see Amazon ASIN B0001I8ZT4). This will not cure the  dermatitis, but will relieve the itch and flakes until the next hair-wash. (3)

Or try topical synthetic antifungal creams such as Ciclodan, ketoconazole cream and Ertaczo on scalp or facial skin (2). I would use this as a last resort, because they are synthetic.

Natural, homemade treatments for scalp (symptoms)

  • Apple cider vinegar (ACV): for the scalp, pour 1/3 cup of unfiltered organic ACV (or dilute it 1 for 1 with filtered water, if it stings) on the scalp; wrap hair in a shower cap so that it stores the heat for 30 minutes, then rinse off. Can add 1 Tbsp baking soda to the rinse water and or to a tee tree oil shampoo to clean the scalp; however, don’t add baking soda very often, as it can be very damaging to the hair the scalp prefers a slightly acidic pH: 4.5 – 5.5). The author believes her dermatitis happens because of her food sensitivity/allergy to dairy products, but other food sensitivities could potentially cause the reaction. (from Itchy Little World: 4 Ways to Relieve Seborrheic Dermatits (3A), or Waxy-Greasy Hair After Showering – a Surprising Form of Dermatitis (3B))
  • Raw local honey shampoo with diluted ACV rinse: It’s important to use raw (not pasteurized) honey, especially from local hives, if possible.You can also use this method on your face or other exposed skin.
    1. Mix the honey and filtered water, heating the mix lightly, with stirring, to help the honey dissolve. Make only as much as you need for each shampoo because storing it can cause mold to grow. You can also add 2 drops of an essential oil such as carrot seed, cedar bark, lavender, rosemary or tea tree. Recommended honey to water ratio, from:
      • Empowered Sustenance (6): 1-part raw honey to 3-parts filtered water.
      • Wiki How (5) – suggests 9-parts honey to 1-part water.
    2. Wet hair, then apply a few tablespoons of the shampoo and massage/rub with your “brush and scalp invigorator” to distribute the shampoo over your entire scalp. Do not scrub or rub harshly.
    3. Wiki How (5) recommends leaving it on your hair for 3 hours before rinsing.
    4. Rinse with warm water, then follow with a ACV rinse (1 – 2 Tbsp ACV to 1/2 cup water); it is slightly acidic (pH 4), which is what the scalp prefers. (from Itchy Little World: Waxy-Greasy Hair After Showering – a Surprising Form of Dermatitis (3B).

[Cat’s note, June 1, 2019: I used to use a very diluted ACV/water mix (½ tsp ACV to 3 cups water) for rinsing after using a Castile bar-soap shampoo; it worked great for many years, then suddenly it caused my scalp and hair to be very oily, so I switched to a gentle commercial shampoo and just water for the rinse for several months before trying the bar soap and ACV again. I don’t know if it was the slightly alkaline soap, or the ACV rinse that caused the problem. Since then, I rotate between soap wash with ACV rinse, and a gentle commercial shampoo with ACV or plain water rinse every few weeks.

However, that is not helping with this dermatitis outbreak, so I will try salicylic acid shampoo, by adding white willow bark extract to my commercial shampoo with tea tree oil (Avalon Organics brand)], or by making my own Homemade Salicylic Acid Shampoo.

Natural treatments for affected skin areas symptoms (lesions)

  • Organic manuka honey skin cream; see Amazon ASIN B07FM9HHYR or B004EIVYM2 (3A)
  • Raw local honey on facial or other exposed skin every other day as follows (instructions from Wiki How (5); see also Manuka honey skin cream), below:
    1. Dilute raw honey in warm water, using 90% honey and 10% water.
    2. Gently rub the mix onto the lesions for 2 to 3 minutes, daily or every other day. Do not scrub or rub harshly.
    3. Leave it on for up to 3 hours
    4. Rinse with warm water.
    5. Continue this regimen for 4 weeks.

5/27/19: This evening, I applied un-diluted honey to the red & scaly areas on my face. Instantly, the itching stopped. But my hair kept getting stuck in the honey, so I partially wiped it off with a damp cloth because I was about to go to bed. Much improved the next morning; I washed the remainder off. (Next time, dilute honey with a bit of water as instructed above). The redness and itchiness were minimized throughout the afternoon, but reappeared to a lesser extent in the evening, so I tried coconut oil (see next bullet).

  • Apply coconut oil on the skin of affected areas (lauric acid is the active ingredient).  Dr Axe (2) suggests making the following mix:
    • Essential oils: combine 8 drops cedarwood essential oil (or atlas cedar essential oil) , 8 drops rosemary oil, 6 drops tea tree oil, 1 tsp local honey and 4 ounces coconut oil (or olive or almond oil).
    • Massage gently into the affected area, including the scalp, leave on for about 15–20 minutes, and then gently rub or rinse off.
  • Organic manuka honey skin cream; see Amazon ASIN B07FM9HHYR or B004EIVYM2 (3A)

Cat’s experimenting with eczema outbreak

5/28/19 note: This evening, I tried just plain coconut oil on my facial areas (because I don’t yet have the essential oils), applying to the red & scaly areas on my face, and let it rest for about 20 minutes, then wiped it off. It provided some relief – less redness and itching during the night and throughout the next morning. I think alternating honey and coconut oil is very helpful; or mixing the honey and coconut oil into a salve.

5/30/19 note: in general, the redness, scaliness and itching are much improved, but still there. I bought the essential oils, so will try the honey and coconut oil mix next.

6/9/19 update: The signs of eczema on my face had completely disappeared by 6/4, and the scalp itchiness much reduced. 6/4 was the day I saw my acupuncturist who does NAET treatments for food sensitivity. He found that I had a sensitivity to resveratrol – both a supplement I take and red grapes I eat for a snack, so he treated for that. I avoided both for 36 hours, then had a few red grapes (but I have not added back the resveratrol supplement). The next morning (6/5), the eczema was back on my face and my whole body was itchy (the food sensitivity had returned). I gave away the grapes and resumed treatment of my face with honey/ACV followed by coconut oil. Today (6/9/19, the symptoms are almost gone. I really need to resolve the food sensitivity which is the likely cause of the eczema; resveratrol/grapes might not be the only sensitivity. I saw my acupuncturist again on 6/18/19, and he found I have a strong food sensitivity to both resveratrol supplement and to red grapes. But he added there may be another sensitivity behind the eczema. I stopped taking resveratrol and red grapes and with time, the symptoms went away.

Sept 2019 update: The itchy scalp is back, and it’s not caused by resveratrol/red grapes because I have eliminated them from my diet. Since I eat brie cheese with an apple daily, I thought that might be the culprit, and sure enough, I have a strong food sensitivity to the brie. So I will give it up for a few months; will have to find another cheese to have with my apple.

Oct 2019 update: I’ve found that alternating Danish havarti and blu cheese seems to work, at least so far.

Jan 2020 update: Meanwhile, my acupuncturist/NAET practitioner continues to test and treat for brie, and it is now not as strong a sensitivity (only at “cellular level”), so I have hope I will be able to add brie to my rotation of cheeses one of these months. Thankfully, the alternation of havarti and blu cheeses has not developed another sensitivity, so far, at least.

General Notes on Treating Root Cause of Scaly Scalp and/or Skin Lesions

  • Avoid commercial or homemade hair and skin care products that contain alcohol.
  • Support your immune system with your diet to go after the root cause of the problem; for example, consume more anti-inflammatory foods, including garlic, apple cider vinegar, banana, avocado, flaxseed, ginger and coconut oil. At same time, reduce intake of inflammatory foods (sugar, fried foods, trans fats, corn/soy/canola/safflower and sunflower oils. (2). 
  • It could be a zinc deficiency, so try adding a low-dose organic zinc and copper supplement to your regimen (2). Zinc and copper compete for absorption; adding zinc alone can lead to copper deficiency. Organic form examples are zinc methionine and copper gluconate as in Jarrow’s zinc balance (see iHerb code JRW-13008).  A sure sign you have a zinc deficiency is white cloudy spots on your fingernails/toenails). You can do a test at home, to determine if you have zinc deficiency, called “Zinc Tally Test.” (from Dr Jockers Test Zinc Levels a Home (7)).  See Biotics Research Zinc Taste Test (original pdf (8) which I saved as ZincTasteTest-BioticsResearch (pdf) on Cat’s Kitchen). Use zinc sulfate solution (see Amazon ASIN B000UQTEQA, Biotics Research, Aqueous Zinc, $13.90/bottle). See also my post on Cat’s Kitchen: Zinc deficiency: How to test zinc levels at home.

[Cat’s note: I’m getting zinc and copper in my Mercola multi and I don’t have the clear sign of insufficient dietary zinc – white cloudy spots on the fingernails, so I don’t think zinc deficiency is a problem for me at this time.]

I do have a long history of developing food sensitivities because of my leaky gut and parasite in my small intestine, all of which I am treating with diet and herbs, but its slow-going. I also get NAET treatment for my food sensitivities as soon as they develop. I think this 2019 outbreak may be related to a sensitivity to resveratrol (in a supplement and in red grapes].


  1. Healthline:
    1. Healthline: Eczema on Scalp (
    2. Healthline Pictures – nano-labial folds is picture #3 (
  2. Dr Axe: Seborrheic Dermatitis (
  3. Itchy Little World:
    1. 4 Ways to Relieve Seborrheic Dermatitis (
    2. Waxy-Greasy Hair After Showering – a Surprising Form of Dermatitis (
  4. Everyday Health (
  5. Wiki How (
  6. Empowered Sustenanace (
  7. Dr Jockers on testing zinc levels at home (
  8. Biotics Research Zinc Taste Test (…/LIT-132-Zinc Taste test_0.pdf); I saved this pdf on Cat’s Kitchen: ZincTasteTest-BioticsResearch (pdf)

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