Helping You Understand Seborrheic Dermatitis

Written on: Oct 23, 2019
By: Shari Hicks-Graham

Social media has heightened the public’s interest in beauty, as well as all of the products, procedures, and information associated with it. Our skin is literally the canvas for our image and while some seek guidance on ways to beautify your skin and hair online, many of you are going the expert route by visiting dermatologists and aestheticians at higher rates than ever before. I have seen the trends shifting in my office, for sure, but did you know that hair and scalp ailments alone cost people billions of dollars each year? With information never having been more accessible, I feel that people should know the facts about seborrheic dermatitis one of the biggest skin and hair disorders in the US and around the world.


The burden of skin disease in the United States is significant. A 2017 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (1) demonstrated that the total direct cost of skin disease in one year was nearly $75 billion. Narrowing it down a bit, $1.9 billion of those costs were related to hair and scalp disorders. Surprisingly, hair and scalp disorders cost more per capita to treat than acne! Seborrheic dermatitis, a disease related to Malassezia yeast, and the body’s inflammatory response to it, alone was responsible for $339 million in medical costs, excluding prescription or OTC drugs.

The symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis consist of dryness, flaking and itching, and may often be looked upon as dandruff when it is mild. When it is more severe, it can progress to a thick, greasy scale on the scalp and become very difficult to remove. The dry characteristics of seborrheic dermatitis may even become present on the face, near the hairline, and around the nose or eyebrows. On brown skin, the skin may appear ashy or grey/brown; or on light skin, it may appear red and inflamed.

Women, men, children, and infants are all capable of developing seborrheic dermatitis. It may become exacerbated during infancy or adolescence when hormones tend to activate sebaceous glands to a greater extent. Also, certain hair care practices like infrequent hair washing, hair extensions (2), or use of heavy pomade moisturizers are associated with worsening the condition.

Although it has been questioned whether there is a direct relationship between seborrheic dermatitis and alopecia, studies suggest that there may be an association. One recent Nigerian cross-sectional survey reported that out of 727 women, 33.7% of them had itching, and 24.4% had flaking or scaling of the scalp (3). Notably, 40.0% of the same group indicated that they had alopecia. Patients also had psychological complaints relating to their hair and scalp disorders like the feeling of uneasiness, frustration, poor body image, and anger. When examined by physicians, 31.6% of these women were found to have seborrheic dermatitis and 60.3% had traction alopecia.

Be careful not to discount these stats because this study may not have been conducted on a population sample in your home country. Findings such as these support what I witness every day in my dermatology practice here in Columbus, Ohio. When I began to notice trends relating to the burden of patient hair and scalp disorders and how common treatments often failed to provide an adequate solution, I felt compelled to act.

Typical treatments for seborrheic dermatitis involve the use of topical anti-fungal preparations, and medications may be prescribed to relieve inflammation in the skin related to the rash on the scalp or face, like topical steroids or other creams. However these products have historically been very harsh on the hair, and often cause severe dryness that makes it cosmetically unappealing to use on a regular basis. LivSo was created to bridge the gap between effective medications and desirable cosmetic products that can be applied in a simplified routine to help people feel more comfortable in their own skin.

LivSo ingredients were chosen to help reduce yeast levels, gently remove scale, leaving the hair and scalp clean, moisturized, and ready for styling. For severe cases or during times of more intense dryness or itching, prescriptions may still be necessary. However, LivSo fits in as part of a general maintenance routine of self-care - simple and effective, supported by our clinical study. We have received feedback that our system is meeting the needs of our customers, and we are driven to continue our work. If you know of someone who you feel would benefit from the scalp care that our system provides, please share LivSo with them. Also, do share your story of how your scalp or hair care routine impacts your life by visiting @livsolife on Instagram or on Facebook.


1 J Am Acad Dermatol 2017; 76:958-72
2 J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;64:253-62
3 Am Acad Dermatol 2019; 81:4, AB218

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