Bergamot essential oil is derived from the peel of the bergamot orange, a fruit native to Italy. It possesses anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties. Many people swear by the power of essential oils for various skin issues, and bergamot has some properties that could potentially be beneficial if you’re suffering from seborrheic dermatitis.
However, human studies are lacking and lab studies demonstrate that bergamot oil only exerts its anti-fungal activity against Malassezia at concentrations of 30% or higher. Bergamot oil can cause skin irritation at higher concentrations and increase photosensitivity. Despite its skin benefits, I don’t recommend using bergamot oil as a treatment for seborrheic dermatitis.
Let’s take a deep dive:
What is bergamot essential oil?
Bergamot essential oil is derived from the Citrus bergamia, a type of citrus fruit native to Italy. This essential oil is extracted from the peel of the fruit, carrying with it many beneficial properties due to high quantities of limonene, linalool and other compounds. Commonly used in aromatherapy, bergamot essential oil is recognized for its soothing and refreshing aroma, making it a popular choice for relieving stress and promoting relaxation.
When you incorporate bergamot essential oil into your routine, you can also benefit from its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory properties. These properties make it a versatile oil with numerous applications including skincare, hair care, and emotional wellness.
Bergamot oil is known for its role in skin health by helping to fight acne, soothing skin irritations, toning the skin, and reducing the appearance of scars and marks. This means that when used as part of a holistic skincare routine, bergamot oil can contribute to healthier looking skin.
Being a citrus oil, bergamot possesses a light, revitalizing scent that can uplift your mood, and contribute to emotional well-being. Its soothing properties can help reduce anxiety and stress while promoting a sense of calm and tranquility.
Does bergamot oil have anti-fungal properties?
Bergamot essential oil has been found to possess significant antibacterial activity against a variety of bacteria, including those that can cause skin infections. The oil has also demonstrated antifungal effects in vitro against common skin dermatophytes (fungi that causes skin fungal infections), Candida species and common food fungi.
However, there is little evidence that bergamot oil is active against Malassezia, the fungus that plays a major role in seborrheic dermatitis. There was only one lab study demonstrating that bergamot oil can inhibit Malassezia growth at concentrations of 30%.
Is bergamot oil good for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff?
There are no human studies on using bergamot essential oil to treat seborrheic dermatitis. As you saw from my previous discussion, bergamot is only active against Malassezia at concentrations of 30% of higher. If you’ve ever used bergamot or any other citrus oil, you’ll know it can cause stinging, burning and even dermatitis at higher concentrations.
Bergamot has a lovely scent and has beneficial skincare properties that may help alleviate Seb Derm symptoms when used in combination with other products. Bergamot can help reduce inflammation, improve acne and aid healing. Bergamot has even been touted as a treatment for dandruff and hair thinning!
I definitely recommend using bergamot oil as an aromatherapy to help relieve stress (a known contributor to Seb Derm flares) but despite its skincare benefits, find it hard to recommend using bergamot oil as treatment for Seb Derm. It’s too irritating to the skin and increases photosensitivity – causing further breakdown in your skin barrier when it is already damaged during a flare.
How to use bergamot oil for seborrheic dermatitis
Having said that, if you love the scent of bergamot and only want to use it as part of a much larger treatment routine, it’s worth a try. If you find it irritating to your skin, just reduce the amount you use or stop using the oil.
Make sure you dilute bergamot oil with a suitable carrier oil such as jojoba oil. This is essential because bergamot oil is potent and will definitely cause skin irritation if used undiluted. A safe concentration to start with is mixing 1-2 drops of bergamot oil with 10 drops of your chosen carrier oil.
Next, you can use the diluted oil mixture as a topical treatment on affected areas of your scalp or skin. Apply the mixture gently, massaging it into the skin, and let it sit for a few minutes before washing it off with a gentle, sulfate-free shampoo or cleanser.
You can also incorporate bergamot oil into your hair care routine by adding a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner. This will help maintain the therapeutic effects of bergamot oil while also providing a pleasant fragrance to your hair.
If you prefer a leave-in treatment, create a hair tonic by adding bergamot oil to jojoba oil. Apply a small amount of the serum to your scalp and massage it in gently. This can be left on overnight or throughout the day for continuous benefits.
Precautions and potential side effects
Bergamot oil can cause skin irritation if not properly diluted before applying it to your skin. To minimize the risk of irritation or an allergic reaction, perform a patch test by applying a small amount of diluted bergamot oil to a part of your skin and observing for any negative reactions over 24 hours. If irritation occurs, discontinue use of the oil.
Pregnancy often comes with heightened sensitivities, and exposure to essential oils like bergamot may not be recommended. If you’re pregnant or nursing, consult your healthcare provider before using bergamot oil or any essential oils.
Some users may experience side effects ranging from mild to severe, including:
- Irritation, redness, or a burning sensation on the skin
- Increased sensitivity to sunlight due to bergamot’s photosensitizing properties, potentially causing sunburn or skin discoloration
- Allergic reactions, such as itching, swelling, or difficulty breathing
If you experience any of these side effects, discontinue use immediately and seek medical attention if symptoms persist or worsen.