Does moisturizer help seborrheic dermatitis?

Dryness and itchiness are key symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, so finding a moisturizer that helps alleviate these symptoms is essential. Some moisturizers can be irritating to the skin due to various active ingredients and chemicals. However, a good facial moisturizer that is suitable for SD may help alleviate some symptoms associated with seborrheic dermatitis by keeping your skin hydrated.

Check out the best face moisturizers for seborrheic dermatitis.

Let’s take a deep dive:

Does moisturizing help seborrheic dermatitis?

I’ve tried both ways with my SD. I’ve let my face ‘breathe’ by not applying anything at all. My face cracked and peeled crazily, especially when I was in an air-con environment for the day. This made my SD hurt

I also tried heavy emollient creams, thinking that the more hydrated I can keep my skin, the quicker it will heal. Wrong move too. The heavy creams made my face feel really oily and triggered another SD flare. Vaseline, in particular, is not recommended when you have seborrheic dermatitis, even when you are in between flare ups. Neither is olive oil.

In the end, I found a light-weight, natural moisturizer worked best during an active flare and after when my face is healing.

If you have mild-to-moderate seborrheic dermatitis, applying a hypo-allergenic, non-oily moisturizer after washing your face may help relieve irritation. However, if your condition is more severe, you may need to be a hydrocortisone cream in addition to a moisturizer. Be sure to watch out for any symptoms of overuse or unsafe ingredients like fragrance or dyes in your chosen moisturizer.

There are many moisturizers on the market, but not all of them are effective for seborrheic dermatitis. It is important to find a moisturizer that contains the right ingredients, and more importantly, doesn’t contain the wrong ingredients.

The only moisturizer I use at the moment is MooGoo Scalp Cream. Even though its name is confusing, it’s actually a natural moisturizer made of oils like olive oil and coconut oil, and soothing ingredients like aloe vera to more closely resemble our natural sebum. I slather it on my face during a breakout and it’s the only cream that doesn’t burn.

MooGoo Natural Scalp Cream - 120g - For relief of dry skin around the scalp, ears, hairline, eyes, and along the side of the noseCheck it out on Amazon

Choosing the right moisturizer can help hydrate your skin, reduce flaking, and allow your skin cells to repair and heal. It can also help with the appearance of  your seborrheic dermatitis and make you feel more comfortable in public.

Moisturizing before putting on makeup can make all the difference. While I don’t use makeup anymore during an SD flare, you can still use makeup to help you feel more confident in public. 

Can moisturizer make seborrheic dermatitis worse?

Unfortunately, some people find that moisturizers make their seborrheic dermatitis worse. If you have seborrheic dermatitis, it’s important to know what triggers your symptoms and avoid those triggers as much as possible.

For some people, using the wrong skin care products can flare your SD. The only way to know is to track your symptoms and list down all the products, foods, and activities that you did before to find your triggers. For example, I notice when I use a heavier, more emollient-type moisturizer, I almost immediately start to itch. I thought a colloidal oatmeal moisturizer like Aveeno (which is usually really good for eczema and dry skin) would be good for my neck but all it did was made my neck feel oily and itchy. Don’t get me wrong, I still use Aveeno for the rest of my body, just not on my seborrheic dermatitis.

Aveeno Skin Relief Fragrance-Free Moisturizing Lotion for Sensitive Skin, with Natural Shea Butter & Triple Oat Complex, Unscented Therapeutic Body Lotion for Itchy, Extra-Dry Skin, 18 fl. ozCheck it out on Amazon

Further reading: The best Aveeno products for seborrheic dermatitis

Should you moisturize seborrheic dermatitis?

You are probably a bit confused and worried by now. So should you or shouln’t you moisturize SD? You definitely should use moisturizer during and especially after a seborrheic dermatitis flare. But which moisturizer you use makes all the difference.

There are many different types of moisturizers available, and it may be helpful to try a few different kinds to see which one works best for you. Some people find that really light lotions work well, while others prefer slightly heavier products that contain ceramides or hyaluronic acid.

During an active SD flare, I’m really careful with what I put on my face. I usually use an OTC topical anti-fungal cream like clotrimazole on the affected areas twice a day followed by my MooGoo Scalp Cream every few hours depending on whether I am in an air-conditioned environment or not.

3 Pk. Family Care 831527005052-1 Clotrimazole Anti-Fungal Cream , 1% USPCheck it out on Amazon

After a flare, when my skin is all dry and peeling, I go a bit heavier on the moisturizer to protect my skin barrier. Again, I use the MooGoo Scalp Cream as often as needed. But I also layer my NIOD Hydration Vaccine on top to reduce moisture loss.

Niod Hydration Vaccine (50 ml)Check it out on Amazon

Read my detailed review of the NIOD Hydration Vaccine.

Should you moisturize eyelids and eye area affected by seborrheic dermatitis?

During my worst flares, SD affected my eyelids and inner corner of my eyes. It made my eyes feel dry and trying not to pull at my eyelids and scratch it was torture.

Initially I use regular eye moisturizers just to keep my eye area hydrated. I found ‘longer-acting’ eye moisturizers like Clinique Moisture Surge Eye helpful. Then, I started using MooGoo scalp cream on my eye area as well. I found it just as good. Because it was so light-weight, it didn’t cause any pore clogging or other issues around my eyes.

Moisturisers by Clinique Moisture Surge Eye 96-Hour Hydro Filler Concentrate / 0.5 fl.oz. 15mlCheck it out on Amazon

Read my detailed review of the Clinique Moisture Surge Eye. 

How to choose the best moisturizers for seborrheic dermatitis?

There are many moisturizers on the market, and it can be hard to decide which one is best for you. However, there are a few that are more suitable than others for seborrheic dermatitis sufferers.

Avoid oil-based moisturizers and emollients. These tend to be heavier. They may be more effective at locking in moisture but they also make your skin more oily, which can worsen SD.Use a hyaluronic acid serum underneath your moisturizer instead.

Some experts recommend moisturizers with alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs). AHAs are beneficial because they exfoliate the skin, removing dead cells and helping new cells to grow. This can improve the appearance of seborrheic dermatitis. You can try AHAs in between flares to encourage skin turnover. However, I definitely don’t think you should use AHAs or any other exfoliants during an SD flare. Also make sure you don’t overdo exfoliants as that can be a trigger for another flare.

I find that with SD and sensitive skin, simple cream-based light-weight moisturizers are best. These are good for people with oily skin, as they help to control oil production.

My most essential tips for finding a suitable moisturizer for seborrhoeic dermatitis include:

  • do not use oils. They clog your pores and are too heavy
  • avoid products with fragrance, parabens, SLS etc. the more natural the better.
  • look out for ingredients like menthol or mint which can worsen the sting.
  • ‘hypo-allergenic’ doesn’t mean natural. Scrutinize the ingredient list.

You might need to try out a few moisturizers before finding what works best for you. You can test out a product by dabbing it on a small area of your face to see how it reacts.

Also remember that you might need different moisturizers during an active flare vs when you’re in maintenance mode trying to prevent an SD flare.

Further reading: Is shea butter good for seborrheic dermatitis?

To wrap up

That’s my take on moisturing SD. Having tried many different ones, I found that simple, light-weight, moisturizers that contain natural active ingredients work best, especially during an SD flare. You might be dealing with SD for a long, long time so it’s worth putting in the effort and time to find moisturizers that work for you.

You might be interested in facials for seborrheic dermatitis too.

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