Is fish oil good for seborrheic dermatitis?

There is no evidence that fish oil is an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis but it has been shown to reduce inflammation in other skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. Theoretically and anecdotally, fish oil can help reduce the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis and prevent another flare.

Let’s take a deep dive:

What is fish oil?

Fish oil is a type of oil that is extracted from the tissues of oily fish. Fish oil is a true powerhouse when it comes to health benefits. It’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial to human health. Numerous studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids can protect against heart disease, stroke, and cognitive decline. Omega-3 fatty acids are also anti-inflammatory. 

Fish oil contains 2 omega-3s; docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Your body can’t make these fatty acids and they are essential for lots of functions. If you don’t eat much oily fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna, taking a fish oil supplement can help you get enough omega-3s. 

Fish oil supplements are available in capsules or liquid form. They are generally safe, but side effects may include fishy breath, indigestion, and nausea.

Nordic Naturals Ultimate Omega, Lemon Flavor - 90 Soft Gels - 1280 mg Omega-3 - High-Potency Omega-3 Fish Oil Supplement with EPA & DHA - Promotes Brain & Heart Health - Non-GMO - 45 ServingsCheck it out on Amazon

Benefits of fish oil

Fish oil supplements can help improve overall health and well-being. It’s best known for being heart-protective. As you know heart disease is a leading cause of death worldwide. 

Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to prevent the onset of mental health disorders and improve symptoms in those who are susceptible. 

Fish oil supplementation may also improve age-related macular degeneration. I’ve always suffered from dry eyes and found that fish oil supplementation improved my symptoms slightly. 

Two randomized controlled studies found that omega-3 supplementation lowered production of inflammatory cytokines and anxiety in medical students and obese pregnant women.

You can see that fish oil, either directly from fish, or as a supplement has a multitude of health benefits. Omega-3s also maintain healthy skin. But does it do anything for seborrheic dermatitis? Or does fish oil make SD worse?

Can fish oil help seborrheic dermatitis?

There is no research evidence that fish oil supplementation is an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. However, some research suggests that fish oil may be helpful in treating seborrheic dermatitis symptoms such as dryness, scaling, redness, and itching.

There is some evidence to suggest that taking fish oil supplements may be helpful in relieving other conditions related to inflammation, such as eczema, acne or psoriasis. As seborrheic dermatitis involves uncontrolled local inflammation due to Malassezia by-products, it would make sense that fish oil can benefit SD as well.

The benefits of fish oils for seborrheic dermatitis likely stem from the omega-3 fatty acids present in them. Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce the severity and frequency of skin flares associated with this condition.

Fish oils are also thought to promote skin healing and improve skin moisture levels which will also contribute to symptom relief. While there is limited evidence supporting the use of fish oils specifically for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis, taking a balanced approach including natural therapies like fish oil may provide some benefit over conventional treatments alone. 

Can fish oil cause seborrheic dermatitis?

Unless you’re slathering fish oil on your face and clogging your pores, fish oil doesn’t cause seborrheic dermatitis to get worse or cause an SD flare. 

However, rarely, fish oil can cause an allergic rash in some people with allergies to fish or shellfish

Can I apply fish oil to my seborrheic dermatitis rash?

You most definitely can apply fish oil to your rash! If you want to smell rancid and fishy all day. You’ll also clog your pores. As good as ingested fish oil is for your skin health, you can’t just break a capsule and apply the contents to your skin. 

The only moisturizer I know of that contains omega-3 is Paula’s Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer. This lightweight cream also contains passion fruit and guava extract, ceramides, and shea butter to soothe and hydrate dry, flaky skin. Don’t worry about smelling fishy, the Omega-3 is this moisturizer comes from flax seeds and chia seeds, not fish oil. 

Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Lightweight Face Moisturizer, Shea Butter & Plant Oils, Brightening Vitamin C - For Dry & Sensitive SkinCheck it out on Amazon

Or get it cheaper from Dermstore

What is the best fish oil for seborrheic dermatitis?

As always, the best way to get fish oil is by eating oily fish. But not all of us can afford to eat that much fish or even want to. Especially with concerns about mercury accumulation and warnings not to eat more than 2 servings of fish a week.

This is where fish oil supplements come in. Plus, our Western diet is way too rich in omega-6 fatty acids and way too deficient in omega-3 fatty acids. There are hundreds of fish oil supplement brands out there but which should we choose?

You wouldn’t believe the vast differences in quality when it comes to fish oil supplements. 

This is how you choose a high quality fish oil supplement:

  • high relative omega-3 content, at least 500 mg of EPA and DHA a serving
  • one single type of fish as its source (it’s harder to control for quality when multiple fish oils are mushed together in one supplement)
  • processed with as little oxidation as possible

Stick to reputable brands like these ones:

NOW Foods - Ultra Omega-3 500 EPA/250 DHA - 180 SoftgelsCheck it out on Amazon


NOW Foods uses anchovies for their fish oil. The fish oil concentrate is teested to be free from harmful levels of contaminants like PCBs, dioxins, mercury and other heavy metals. 

Nature Made Fish Oil 1200mg, 230 Softgels Mega Size, Fish Oil Omega 3 Supplement For Heart HealthCheck it out on Amazon

Nature Made sources their fish oil from wild-caught fish (not farmed) and actually ships their purified oil to the USA for quality testing before encapsulating. 

Side effects of taking fish oil

Fish oil is generally safe when taken in the recommended doses. As with any medication, there is always the potential for adverse effects if you’re not careful. 

If you are on blood thinners, fish oil may increase your chance of bleeding. For the same reason, pregnant women are advised to stop fish oil in the last few weeks of their pregnancy to reduce risk of bleeding during delivery. 

Fish oil can also cause nausea, heartburn, or loose stools in some people. 

To wrap up

There is no evidence that fish oil supplementation treats seborrheic dermatitis but many people (myself included) have found it helpful and continue to take it regularly. 

You may also be interested in What vitamin deficiency causes seborrheic dermatitis?

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