Seborrheic dermatitis is partly caused by an overproduction of sebum, a natural oil that protects the skin from bacteria and fungus. People with seborrheic dermatitis often have oily skin that’s prone to breakout. Is introducing even more oil to our skin a good idea?
Facial oils, ironically, may help to regulate sebum production. Some essential oils have antifungal properties and can be better for you than prescription medications. There are many different oils that can be used to treat seborrheic dermatitis, but some are obviously better than others.
Let’s take a deep dive:
- What are the best oils for seborrheic dermatitis?
- What are the best essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis?
- Can I use oil if I have seborrheic dermatitis?
- How do I use essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis?
- What are the benefits of using essential oils to treat seborrheic dermatitis?
- Precautions when using essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis
- To wrap up
What are the best oils for seborrheic dermatitis?
While there is no one specific oil that works best for everyone, a variety of oils are often recommended as treatments for seborrheic dermatitis. These oils can be applied to the skin as a topical treatment.
When you’re looking at treatment oils, it’s best to divide them into two categories:
- essential oils – which are used to treat seb derm by directly targeting Malassezia or help skin healing
- carrier oils – these oils are used to dilute essential oils. You can also use carrier oils by themselves as a moisturizer.
In this article, I’m going to focus on essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis. Read about the best carrier oils for seb derm here.
What are the best essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis?
If you’re like me, you probably have a cabinet full of different essential oils that you use to treat various ailments. However, if you have seborrheic dermatitis, be careful as some of these oils may irritate your sensitive skin and cause a flare of seb derm.
Essential oils are natural products are often used for their therapeutic properties but it’s important to use the right ones for seb derm. Always dilute these potent oils in a carrier oil before using them on the skin to avoid irritation.
Make sure you only buy from trusted essential oil brands. I use Plant Therapy because I know their oils are pure and undiluted. Every bottle that leaves their center has been third-party tested for quality control.
Here are some essential oils that may be helpful for seborrheic dermatitis:
Tea tree oil is one of the best essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis because it has antibacterial and antiviral properties which kill off yeast and reduce inflammation in the skin.
The oil can be applied to the skin and scalp. You can even put a few drops in your cleanser or toner. Remember that tea tree oil is very strong. Start with the lowest dilution possible and work your way up depending on how your skin reacts to it.
I have a bad fungal rash on my back that I use tea tree oil for. One drop of tea tree oil in a generous dollop of skin lotion makes for a refreshing and soothing moisturizer on my back twice a day. You can also use a tea tree oil shampoo for dandruff.
Take a deep dive on how to use tea tree oil for seborrheic dermatitis.
Manuka oil is an amazing oil that is overshadowed by its more popular cousin, tea tree oil, and manuka honey. This fragrant essential oil is derived from the foliage of the manuka plant, the same plant that provides the nectar for bees to make manuka honey. It has much the same benefits as both tea tree oil and manuka honey. If you’re looking for a natural remedy for SD or dandruff, give this oil a try.
Oregano oil is a natural anti-fungal agent. Using this herb oil regularly may help regulate your skin oils, prevent acne and treat seborrheic dermatitis.
You can also use oregano oil as a pre-shampoo treatment for dandruff. Dilute a few drops of oregano oil in a carrier oil and massage into your scalp. Another way to reap its benefits is to use oregano soap.
Further reading: Oregano oil for seborrheic dermatitis
Lavender oil can benefit the skin in many ways. It can reduce acne, even out skin tone and smoothen fine lines. This flowery oil is soothing, anti-inflammatory and can heal acne breakouts.
My favorite way to use lavender oil is to mix a few drops into witch hazel to make a natural face toner.
Further reading: Is lavender oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?
You may know black seed oil by one of its other names – Nigella sativa oil, black cumin oil or Kalonji oil. This essential oil contains thymoquinone, which is responsible for many of its anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antibacterial properties.
While there are no direct studies looking at the effect of black seed oil on seborrheic dermatitis or Malassezia, black seed oil has proven antifungal activities against multiple strains of fungi.
Take a deep dive into the evidence behind black seed oil.
While there are no studies of chamomile oil’s effect on seborrheic dermatitis, an interesting mice study proved that applying german chamomile once a day for 4 weeks lowered histamine levels and inflammation.
There is nothing like a warm cup of chamomile tea to calm your nerves and nothing like a few drops of chamomile oil in your moisturizer to soothe your face.
You can also add a few drops of chamomile oil to squalane oil and massage into your scalp to calm the skin around hair roots that have become inflammed and itchy from SD.
Read more about chamomile oil and its benefits for seborrheic dermatitis.
Thyme oil contains a few compounds that are beneficial for seborrheic dermatitis. Thymol is antifungal in nature and can reduce Malassezia. Carvacrol may calm your skin, and camphor is an antiseptic.
Mix a few drops of thyme oil with witch hazel to use as a soothing toner. You can also add a few drops of thyme oil to your moisturizer. Mix well before applying on your face.
Further reading: Is thyme oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?
Frankincense is famous for being one of the spices the three wise men brought to baby Jesus. It’s been used for centuries and is believed to be anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antiseptic.
Frankincense may help soothe inflammed skin and is also a powerful anti-oxidant. This helps your skin to heal.
Mix a few drops of frankincense oil with citrus oil and massage into your scalp to moisturize the scalp and prevent dandruff.
Check out the deep dive: Is Frankincense Oil good for Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Used topically, geranium oil may help slough dead skin cells, tighten your pores and help your skin heal.
Geranium oil also exhibits anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, and anti-bacterial activity. Best of all, geranium oil may firm up sagging skin!
My favorite way of using geranium oil is by adding a few drops to my moisturizer and applying it twice daily.
You can use geranium oil diluted in a carrier oil as a serum. You can also easily add geranium to your cleanser, shampoo, conditioner or even to water to make a refreshing face spray.
Further reading: Is geranium oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?
Peppermint oil has proven anti-inflammatory, antifungal and antiseptic properties. It contains menthol which when applied, gives you a soothing, cooling feeling and help ease scalp inflammation.
Peppermint oil is quite irritating to the skin. Make sure you dilute it with a carrier oil and use only on your scalp. There are many other gentler essential oils you can use on your face. I go through peppermint oil in more detail here.
Further reading: Best hair oils for dandruff
Rosemary oil exhibits anti-fungal activity and may keep Malassezia growth in check. Dilute a few drops of rosemary oil in squalane and massage into your scalp as a pre-shampoo treatment for dandruff.
Take a deep dive into the benefits of rosemary oil for seborrheic dermatitis.
Eucalyptus oil has antiseptic and antifungal activities that some people say improves their dandruff. However, eucalyptus oil has been shown to have no activity against Malassezia specifically. The best way to use eucalyptus oil is to dilute a few drops of eucalyptus in a carrier oil and use it as spot treatment for the minor wounds you get from scratching your SD lesions.
Further reading: Is eucalyptus oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?
Neem leaf extract has strong anti-fungal activity against Malassezia. The oil is also anti-inflammatory, moisturizes the scalp and repairs damaged skin.
Dilute Neem oil in a carrier oil like jojoba oil before using. Pour a little onto your fingers and massage into your scalp. Leave on for 20 minutes before washing out with an anti-dandruff shampoo.
Make sure you buy Neem leaf extract oil instead of Neem seed oil as the latter isn’t active against Malassezia. Read more about Neem oil and its effect on seborrheic dermatitis.
Further reading: The 8 best scalp oils for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff
There are no studies proving that ylang ylang oil has antifungal activity against Malassezia. However, the oil has anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and calming properties that may help relieve the symptoms of seb derm. People with dry skin will benefit most from using ylang ylang oil.
Read more about ylang ylang oil: Is Ylang Ylang good for Seborrheic Dermatitis?
While cedarwood oil may not have proven activity against Malassezia, it has anti-inflammatory properties and plenty of other skin benefits that can help to reduce the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.
Check out the deep dive: Is cedarwood oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?
Clove oil is extracted from the leaves, stem and buds of the clove tree. It has high levels of antioxidants, minerals and vitamins.
This aromatic oil has been shown in lab studies to inhibit growth of multiple fungi including Malassezia and Candida.
Clove oil will also soothe your irritated scalp and detoxify it by getting rid of grease, dirt and build up. As a bonus, the oil will also nourish your hair and add a refreshing aroma to your locks.
I use clove oil in my body lotion and find that it works amazingly well on the seb derm rash at my chest and neck areas.
Read more about clove oil: Is clove oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?
Sweet orange oil may enhance immunity and cheer you up. I used the oil in a sniffer bottle when I had bad nausea during pregnancy.
Used topically, orange essential oil improves skin radiance, texture and increases blood flow to the skin. As a result, it heals acne and improves congestion. Orange oil is also anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and anti-fungal.
However, orange oil can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun and can be irritative if it’s not diluted properly. Personally, I find it hard to use orange oil as a treatment for seb derm.
I go into more detail in this article: Is Orange Oil good for Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Bergamot has a citrusy scent and is known for its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Bergamot oil has antifungal activity against common skin fungal infections. A small lab study showed that it can inhibit Malassezia but only at a concentration of 30% or higher.
However, bergamot oil can cause skin irritation at higher concentrations and also cause photosensitivity. Due to these factors, I don’t routinely recommend bergamot oil as a treatment for Seb Derm.
A little known fact is that bergamot is used to flavor Earl Grey tea.
Check out the deep dive in this article: Is Bergamot Oil Good For Seborrheic Dermatitis?
Lemongrass oil has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that may help with dandruff. A small study found that hair tonics containing 10% lemongrass oil reduced dandruff after using lemongrass hair tonic twice a day for 2 weeks.
Can I use oil if I have seborrheic dermatitis?
If you already have oily and congested skin, you need to be very careful which oils you put on your skin. Some oils like rosehip oil and olive oil may even feed Malassezia, the yeast that causes seborrheic dermatitis. I don’t recommend using these oils on your skin.
However, many people find that essential oils are just as effective as corticosteroids in controlling inflammation. Essential oils have antifungal properties and can be used to reduce the amount of Malassezia on the skin.
How do I use essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis?
There are many ways to use essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis. You can mix them with a carrier oil and apply them directly to the skin, or add them to your cleanser, moisturizer, shampoo or conditioner.
Essential oils are mainly used topically to help control the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. Because they are powerful oils, you’ll need to dilute them in a carrier oil like MCT oil or squalane oil before you.
Make sure you try it out on a small area of skin first in case you have a reaction to the oil.
One of my other favorite way of using essential oil is through aromatherapy. Inhaling essential oils may also help relieve stress and anxiety which can aggravate seborrheic dermatitis. If nothing else, they make the room smell divine.
What are the benefits of using essential oils to treat seborrheic dermatitis?
If you’re looking for a natural way to treat your seborrheic dermatitis, essential oils may be the answer. Oils can help to soothe and heal your skin, and they’re easy to use. You just need to dilute the oil with a carrier oil before applying it to your skin.
Many essential oils have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce inflammation and swelling. Some are known for their antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can help kill the yeast that cause seborrheic dermatitis. Others may help regulate the production of sebum and control oily skin.
You can apply diluted oils directly to your scalp or body, or you can add them to your shampoo or soap. Just make sure you keep an eye out for reactions and whether the essential oil is actually effective for you. In cases of severe seborrheic dermatitis, prescription medications may be necessary.
Precautions when using essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis
When using essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis, keep in mind that different oils may have different effects. Not all oils are the same. Some may work better than others for treating seborrheic dermatitis. Be aware of any potential drug interactions between the oils and any other medications you may be taking.
There are no particular essential oils that seborrheic dermatitis need to avoid. There are, however, plenty of other oils like olive oil and coconut oil that may worsen seb derm.
Just bear in mind that certain oils like citrus, orange, lemon and bergamot may be phototoxic. These oils react to UV light and can cause skin burns. Never apply them to your skin in the day time.
In some cases, using certain essential oils can actually make seborrheic dermatitis worse. In fact, the risk of skin reactions to essential oils are high. That’s why you need to dilute them well. Some better known offenders are tea tree oil, cinnamon, clove, lemongrass, oregano and peppermint oil.
If you’re planning to experiment with essential oils, try one at a time instead of a whole cocktail. That way you’ll reduce the risk of oil interaction and you’ll know which ones don’t agree with you.
If you’re experiencing negative side effects after using an essential oil such as excessive dryness or redness stop using it immediately.
It’s also important to keep in mind that pregnant and breastfeeding women, and young children should take special care when using essential oils. Infants and children can be especially vulnerable if they ingest or inhale essential oils, which can lead to severe illness or even death.
To wrap up
Using essential oils for seborrheic dermatitis is a natural way to manage your symptoms and treat seb derm. The oils can be used alone or in combination with other treatments. There are many oils that can be helpful, so finding the right one for you may take some experimentation. Just make sure you dilute them well and watch out for negative skin reactions.
Further reading: The Ultimate Guide to Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment