Is manuka honey good for seborrheic dermatitis?

Manuka honey is a natural product that has many benefits. It is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antifungal. Manuka honey has also been shown to be an effective treatment for numerous health conditions, including the common cold and wounds. Some people use manuka honey to treat skin conditions, such as eczema and dandruff.

Manuka honey is touted as a natural remedy for seborrheic dermatitis. It works to soothe the skin, soften flakes and reduce itch. Small studies found that applying manuka honey regularly can improve seborrheic dermatitis. 

Let’s take a deep dive:

Does honey help seborrheic dermatitis?

There is no cure for seborrheic dermatitis, but there are plenty of treatments. Honey has been touted as a natural remedy for seborrheic dermatitis symptoms and there is actually evidence to support this claim.

Honey is easily available and can be found at the local corner shop. Just make sure you get raw honey rather than regular honey. Most SD sufferers have given topical honey a try at some time or another. You can use honey as part of your cleansing regimen but it’s more often used as a face or hair mask.

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Some people find that honey helps relieve their symptoms. As with any other treatment, some others have found honey aggravates their SD. However, to see continued effect with honey, you need to apply it regularly.

Check out these DIY soothing facials to do at home.

Effect of manuka honey on seborrheic dermatitis

I only found one small human study on raw honey’s potential to treat seborrheic dermatitis. This is still one better than none.

This study looked at 30 patients with seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, face and front of chest. They were asked to massage diluted crude (raw) honey (90% honey in warm water) into their SD lesions every other day. They then had to leave it on for 3 hours before gentling rinsing it off with warm water and to repeat the process for 4 weeks. All patients responded markedly well. Itching and scaling disappeared within one week! In fact their lesions disappeared within 2 weeks. Honey even helped with hair loss.

After 4 weeks of intense alternate day honey mask treatment, half of the patients were asked to apply topical honey once a week for 6 months while the other half served as controls (didn’t continue honey treatment). Interestingly, none of the patients who continued with their honey treatment recurred while 12 out of the 15 controls had their SD come back within 2-4 months!

This tells us that honey works. But it’s time-consuming treatment and you need to do it regularly to see continued effects.

In vitro studies (studying cells in culture) show that raw honey and manuka honey reduced healing time and encourages local production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, allowing fater healing to occur. I find this really interesting since it’s postulated that seborrheic dermatitis occurs because of pro-inflammatory cytokines on the skin surface reacting to Malassezia byproducts.

Obviously more research needs to be conducted in order to make a definitive conclusion about whether manuka honey can help reduce symptoms associated with seborrheic dermatitis. However, honey is off to a good start.

In case you’re wondering, raw honey contains many more beneficial nutrients compared to regular honey. This is because raw honey is only strained before it is bottled while regular honey is processed.

Manuka honey refers to a type of honey. It’s better than regular honey as it contains methylglyoxal that is responsible for its antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Wedderspoon Raw Premium Manuka Honey, KFactor 16, 17.6 OunceCheck it out on Amazon

How to use manuka honey to treat seborrheic dermatitis?

Honey has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various scalp and skin conditions. However, if it’s your first time applying honey topically, test it on a small area first as honey can cause allergic reactions in some people.

Manuka honey and raw honey are considered the best choices for SD treatment because these types of honey have many more nutrients and anti-inflammatory compounds compared to regular processed honey.

Both manuka honey and raw honey can be expensive. Honey may prove difficult to apply and can cause a mess. There is also potential for ants to be attracted by the sweet honey smell.

Honey can be used in a few different ways to treat seborrheic dermatitis:

Honey face wash

Put a dollop of honey on your finger tips and massage it into your face for a few minutes. Then gently rinse off with warm water.

You can also use  commercial honey face cleansers. Beloved Beauty’s Honey Cleanse Powder is only made of a few edible ingredients:

Honey Cleanse Face Calming Wash-100% Organic Face Cleanser- Ingredients with Honey and Oat -Treatment for Blemishes, Rosacea, Psoriasis, Acne scars and Blackheads- Non-toxic Facial Cleanser- Exfoliating, Soothing Natural Face wash for Sensitive SkinCheck it out on Amazon

Honey face mask

Following the study discussed above, you can dilute 9 parts honey to 1 part water. Leave the mixture on for 3 hours then rinse off with warm water. The only issue is that because honey runs when it’s warm, it will melt off your face, making it a very messy affair.

A compromise would be to use honey masks. You can mix honey and curd to make an exfoliating home mask. Unlike many other honey masks, I’m From Honey Mask contains mostly honey and closely emulates raw honey:

[I'M From] Honey Mask 4.23oz | wash off type, real honey 38.7%, Deep moisturization, Nourishment,and Clear Complexion.Check it out on Amazon

Honey moisturizer

I can’t imagine leaving on pure honey on your skin as a moisturizer. It’s just too sticky and messy. However, you can buy moisturizers containing manuka honey like the Earth to Skin Manuka Honey Day Cream:

Honey Manuka Day Gel CreamCheck it out on Amazon

Honey hair mask

You can also dilute honey with water and apply it on wet hair before shampooing. I’ve never done this before. It’s just too messy for a mom of two to handle. I use commercial honey masks instead:

SheaMoisture Intensive Hydration Hair Mask For Dry, Damaged Hair Manuka Honey And Mafura Oil To Smooth Hair 12 ozCheck it out on Amazon  

Ingesting honey

Honey has a lot of benefits. I’m a huge fan of a spoonful of honey when my throat is sore and burning. However, it’s also full of sugar. And we know high blood sugar causes more sebum production. Sugar also causes a host of other problems including inflamation and aging. So it’s a no. Regardless of the benefits of honey, you shouldn’t ingest honey regularly for the sake of treating seborrheic dermatitis. 

To wrap up

Manuka honey is a proven natural treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. However, you need to use it regularly. It can also get messy. That’s why I prefer to use commercial skin care products that contain honey instead.

If you’re looking for the benefits of honey without the mess, try manuka oil as a natural remedy to treat seborrheic dermatitis. 

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