What Is Seborrhoeic Hair Loss?'

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seborrhoeic dermatitis sebderm itchy flaky scalp An example of seborrhoeic dermatitis


What is seborrheic hair loss please?

Answer: Hi, Quincy. There is a scalp problem known as seborrhoeic dermatitis but this is a chronic dermatological issue rather than a hair loss condition. In infants it is referred to as cradle cap.

We have heard reference to 'seborrhoeic hair loss' or 'seborrhoeic alopecia' before but this is something of a misnomer. Seborrhoeic dermatitis - also known as sebderm - causes flaky skin to form in patches that can be greasy, red and itchy, these may also 'weep'. It can cause flakes of skin in the hair, and, particularly in colder weather, may also lead to dandruff. This issue can also be exacerbated by stress.

Although it is most commonly found on the scalp, sebderm can also affect the face, the ears (inside and behind), and other areas of the body - typically those considered 'greasy' (sebaceous) skin zones.

It is linked to an overgrowth of the yeast malassezia on the skin which can lead to inflammation in the affected areas. This is understood to be triggered when the sebaceous glands produce sebum in larger-than-normal quantities.

The only known links between seborrhoeic dermatitis and hair loss revolve around this inflammation sometimes deterring localised hair growth, and repeated scratching of the itchy scalp.

Due to the intense itching sensation it can cause, it is not uncommon for people with sebderm to scratch their scalps to the point where they become bloody from broken skin. This can then cause damage to the hair follicles.

In the majority of cases, where the follicles are still functional and on-going treatment is sought for the effective management of seborrhoeic dermatitis (usually in the form of a medicated shampoo containing ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, selenium sulphide or ketoconazole, or topical steroid solutions), normal hair growth should resume naturally. In extreme cases, where the scalp has become scarred and follicles are no longer able to produce hair, there will be permanent hair loss in these areas.

If you are concerned about hair loss and any scalp conditions you may have, a consultation with a professional hair specialist can be an easy way to get a diagnosis, as well as personalised treatment recommendations, where appropriate, tailored to their findings.

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