Does peppermint oil work for seborrheic dermatitis?

Peppermint oil is a popular topical treatment for seborrheic dermatitis but there is minimal evidence that it works. The oil may help improve the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis by giving your scalp a cooling sensation and reducing itching. However, topically applied peppermint oil can cause skin irritation and burning. I don’t recommend using peppermint oil on seborrheic dermatitis of the face.  

Let’s take a deep dive:

What is peppermint oil?

Peppermint oil is a natural remedy that has many purposes. The essential oil is extracted from the leaves of the peppermint plant and has a sharp scent that is cool and minty.

It can help to relieve pain, headaches, and migraines. Peppermint oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and a high amount of antioxidants. It’s important to know how to use it properly in order to reap the benefits.

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Is peppermint oil antifungal?

The antifungal activity of peppermint oil has been deeply studied in the agricultural field while exploring natural alternatives to toxic chemical fungicides. In one study, menthol, one of the compounds in peppermint oil, was found to have antifungal activities against common fungus affecting peach fruits.

Another study found that when broiler rooms were fogged with peppermint oil every 3 days, fungi count in the air, surfaces and litter were lower.

A 2009 review found that peppermint oil gives your scalp a cooling effect and helps to remove dandruff and lice. However, the review did not elaborate on how peppermint oil does that.

I couldn’t find any studies on the antifungal activity of peppermint oil against Malassezia specifically.

Is peppermint oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?

There is some debate over whether or not peppermint oil works for seborrheic dermatitis. Some people claim that it helps, while others say that it doesn’t do anything.

Certainly, most essential oil fans and supporters of natural treatments recommend peppermint oil as a treatment for dandruff, which is essentially seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp.

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Further reading: The best Aveeno products for seborrheic dermatitis

Looking at the evidence, I don’t think peppermint oil is an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. However, the cooling effect it gives your scalp may help you feel more comfortable and relieve itch.

However, I wouldn’t use the pure peppermint essential oil on the rest of my body, especially my face.

Benefits of topically applied peppermint oil

When it comes to skin care, there is a limited amount of research on the benefits of peppermint oil  It has antibacterial and antifungal properties that make it helpful for acne-prone skin.

Peppermint oil is effective against viruses, making it a good choice for treating cold sores. It can even be diluted and used as a topical treatment for patients with chronic itch.

Peppermint oil is also recommended as a natural treatment to engourage thick hair growth as it can increase blood flow to the scalp.

Further reading: The 8 best scalp oils for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff

Best ways to use peppermint oil for seborrheic dermatitis

One way is to mix a few drops of the oil with shampoo. This will help control inflammation and itching by giving your scalp that cool menthol sensation.

The other way I would use peppermint oil is in aromatherapy. The broiler house study (read above) intrigued me with how peppermint oil reduced the levels of aerial fungi in the air and surfaces. While this doesn’t directly treat SD, having less fungus in our environment is always a good thing. And you never know if air fungus is exacerbating your SD.

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You can also mix peppermint oil with other essential oils such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary for added benefits.

Side effects of peppermint oil

When used in small doses, peppermint oil is a great way to stop itching on the scalp. However, it’s important to be aware of the side effects of this oil.

Some people may experience skin irritation or an upset stomach from using peppermint oil. It’s also important to be aware that excessive use of this oil can cause headaches, dizziness and even allergic reactions.

Before you start using peppermint oil regularly, it’s a good idea to test it out on a small patch of scalp to make sure your body tolerates it well. And remember, both peppermint and tea tree oils have strong smells.

To wrap up

Peppermint oil isn’t a treatment for seborrheic dermatitis but it may help cool your scalp. There are plenty of other essential oils that work directly on Malassezia like tea tree oil and oregano oil.

4 thoughts on “Does peppermint oil work for seborrheic dermatitis?”

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