What is Facial Dandruff: How to Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis
Do you have dry, flaking skin on your face? These are the causes and treatments of facial dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis
30 September 2020
Picture this: you're reading something on your phone and you can't help but feel a small headache coming on. So you reach out to massage the spot between your eyes, but your fingers end up scratching off some dried flaked skin.
Does that sound familiar? If it is, then you may have what's called seborrheic dermatitis or facial dandruff.
It's a type of skin infection that can affect different parts of our face, neck and ears, turning some spots dry, itchy, flaky and/or red.
Here's what you need to know about facial dandruff, its common causes, and what treatments you can try to do away with this pesky skin issue.
What causes seborrheic dermatitis?
Here are some reasons you may have seborrheic dermatitis.
1. You may be sensitive to oleic acid
Dandruff is caused by a naturally occurring skin fungus called Malassezia globosa.
These fungi break down sebaceous gland oils, or sebum, which are naturally produced on the surface of your skin. The microbes then leave behind a substance called oleic acid. However, this skin fungus doesn't always cause dandruff and everyone has these microbes on their skin.
You may be developing facial dandruff as you could be sensitive to the substance left behind by these microbes. At times, a sensitive reaction to this fungus causes the flakiness and irritation associated with seborrheic dermatitis.
2. Oily skin
US board-certified dermatologist Sonia Batra, MD, MSC, MPH told Byrdie that facial dandruff usually occurs in parts of the body that is rich in oil glands, so those with oily skin are a prime target.
Seborrheic dermatitis can occur at any age, more so during puberty, but it can follow a person well into adulthood.
3. Immune system
Batra said that we usually have yeast that lives on our skin, which is also known as pityrosporum.
This is normal and it's always present on our body, but if you have a weaker immune system, are stressed, or lack proper sleep, the amount of yeast can overgrow and cause redness, flaking, and itching, and scaling.
4. Dry skin
Facial dandruff can also appear in dry skin types. When your skin is very dry, the sebaceous glands work even harder to compensate for lost sebum.
As a result, when the excess oil is combined with the dry skin flakes, it can lead to seborrheic dermatitis.
5. Fast skin cell regeneration
If your skin cells regenerate more than once a month, you could have an excess of dead skin cells on your face, neck or ears.
Combined with your natural oils, the dead skin cells can cause facial dandruff.
Other reasons you may develop this condition include...
- Having depression
- Having certain neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s disease
- You don’t wash your face daily
- You don't exfoliate regularly
- You have eczema or another inflammatory skin condition
- You live in a very dry climate
- You live in a humid climate
How can I treat facial dandruff?
There are several ways you can treat facial dandruff and combat this skin infection. If you're considering home remedies, have a look at these popular at-home treatments that may reduce the microbes on your face while simultaneously exfoliating the dead skin cells from your complexion.
- Apple cider vinegar - Dilute with water first using 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar mixed with 2 tablespoons water (1:2 ratio)
- Tea tree oil, to be diluted with a carrier oil
- Aloe vera gel
- For dry skin types, try coconut oil (may be especially helpful for drier skin types
Remember that these are home remedy suggestions and that it's important to conduct a skin patch test, such as the inside of your elbow, at least 24-48 hours before you try it on your face.
If your facial dandruff persists, consider consulting a professional dermatologist near you.