Seborrheic Dermatitis – Causes, Symptoms and Ayurvedic Treatment

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Seborrheic Dermatitis (SD) and dandruff are of a continuous spectrum of the same disease that affects the seborrheic areas of the body. Dandruff is restricted to the scalp and involves itchy, flaking skin without visible inflammation. Seborrheic Dermatitis can affect the scalp as well as other seborrheic areas and involves itchy and flaking or scaling skin, inflammation, and pruritus. Various intrinsic and environmental factors, such as sebaceous secretions, skin surface fungal colonization, individual susceptibility, and interactions between these factors, all contribute to the pathogenesis of Seborrheic Dermatitis.

In Ayurveda, it can be correlated with Darunaka. It is a Kapalagata Roga (disease of scalp), but Acharya Sushruta has described this disease as a Kshudraroga (minor diseases) due to the vitiation of Vata and Kapha Doshas with symptoms like Kandu (itching on scalp), Keshachyuti (falling of hair), Swapa (abnormalities of touch sensation on scalp), Rookshata (roughness or dryness of the scalp) and Twaksphutana (breaking or cracking of the scalp skin).

Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis

The definitive cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown. However, the proliferation of Malassezia species has been described as a contributing factor.

Symptoms of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Symptoms include:-

  • Skin flakes (dandruff) on your scalp, hair, eyebrows, beard or mustache
  • Patches of greasy skin covered with flaky white or yellow scales or crust on the scalp, face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, chest, armpits, groin area or under the breasts
  • Red skin
  • Itching
  • The signs and symptoms may be more severe if you’re stressed, and they tend to flare in cold, dry seasons.

Ayurvedic Reference of Seborrheic Dermatitis (Kapalagata Roga)

Seborrheic Dermatitis

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Ayurvedic Treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

The Ayurvedic line of treatment is to normally modify doshas through internal medicines, diet, and lifestyle management along with Panchakarma therapy. Some special herbs are administered to purify the body of accumulated digestive impurities.

Internal Medicines for Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Panchatiktaka Kashaya
  • Manjishthadi Kashaya
  • Mahatiktaka Kashaya
  • Arogyavardhini Vati
  • Triphala Rasayana
  • Triphala churna
  • Yashti churna
  • Saptamrita loha 
  • Chandanasava 
  • Bhringaraja Taila 
  • Triphaladya Taila 
  • Brahmi Taila
  • Malathyadi Keram
  • Durdurapatradi Keram

External Therapies for Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Snehana (Massage)

Purificatory Therapies in Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Raktamokshana: Bloodletting therapy with Jalaukavacharan 
  • Nasya (nasal instillation of medicine) 

Single Herbs Used in Seborrheic Dermatitis

  • Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri
  • Bhringaraj (Eclipta alba
  • Amalaki (Emblica officinalis)
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Diet Management in Seborrheic Dermatitis

Pathya (Do’s)

  • Food with good nutritive value; include fiber-rich foods, salads, fruits, and lentils.
  • Adding coconut water to the diet and always using healthy fats like ghee in cooking is also recommended.
  • Eating sweeter, juicy fresh fruits, cooked greens, and leafy green vegetables with a bitter taste will help in hair treatment.
  • Fenugreek, turmeric and coriander, cumin, ghee, the oil will also help purify fat tissue and strengthen bone tissue.

Apathya (Don’ts)

  • Avoid using hot water for hair wash.
  • Don’t apply heat and direct sunlight on the scalp
  • Don’t comb your hair before getting dried after the wash.
  • Avoid excess sugar, salt, dairy products, meat, acidic food 
  • Avoid spicy, fatty, hot, and penetrating foods, junk food, and aerated drinks

Yoga and Pranayama for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Postures include:-

  • Pashchimottanasana 
  • Adho Mukha Swanasana 
  • Chakrasana
  • Sarvangasana

Pranayama include:-

  • Kapalbhati
  • Nadishodhana Pranayama
  • Bhastrika Pranayama
  • Bhramari

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: What is Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Answer: Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that mainly affects your scalp. It causes scaly patches, red skin, and stubborn dandruff. Seborrheic dermatitis can also affect oily areas of the body, such as the face, sides of the nose, eyebrows, ears, eyelids, and chest.

Question: What are the Causes of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Answer: A yeast (fungus) called Malassezia is in the oil secretion on the skin and an irregular response of the immune system may be the probable cause.

Question: Can seborrheic dermatitis go away on its own?

Answer: Seborrheic dermatitis is a chronic condition and it needs proper treatment but there is a poor chance that it will improve or even go away on its own.

Question: Can Ayurveda cure seborrheic dermatitis?

Answer: Ayurveda treats seborrheic dermatitis effectively by eliminating the root cause, this means that seborrheic dermatitis can be completely cured through Ayurvedic treatment. The Ayurvedic management of seborrheic dermatitis has a strong possibility to break down the pathogenesis of the disease.

Question: What are the causative factors of seborrheic dermatitis?

Answer: As per Ayurveda, non-application of oil on head, sleeping during the day time, lack of hygiene, exposure to dust, hot weather etc. are the causative factors.

Question: What is the Ayurvedic treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Answer: In Ayurveda classics, various procedures and medications including Shamashaman Chikitsa, Shirobhyanga are said to be effective due to its properties such as Snigdha Guna (unctuous) which act through its Vatahara (Vata pacifying) and Vrishya (rejuvenation) properties which ultimately help in the regulation and proper functioning of Srotasa (micro-channels).

Question: How oiling is effective in seborrheic dermatitis?

Answer: Due to the Vatashamak property of oil, it helps in cleaning off the debris and prevents the scalp from secondary invasion of microbial growth.

Question: How Ayurvedic treatment for seborrheic dermatitis works?

Answer: In Ayurvedic practice, herbs having Madhur-Tikta-Kashaya Rasa, Ruksha and Guru guna, Ushna Virya, Katu Vipaka are prescribed. Herbs having these properties help in improving blood circulation of scalp thus promote cleaning of the debris.


  1. Sushrutha Samhita Nidana Sthana, Chapter 13, Kshudraroga Nidana, Sloka 34.
  2. Govind Das. Bhaisajya Ratnavali. Prof. Siddhinandan Mishra., editor. Kushtharogadhikara -54/64, Varanasi: Chaukhambha Prakashan; 2015. p. 866.
  3. Bhava Mishra. Bhavaprakash Nighantu. Chunekar KC editor.Haritakyadi Varga/43, Varanasi: Chaukhambha Bharati Academy; 2013. p. 12.
  4. Chandrabhushan Jha. Ayurvediya Rasa Shastra. Varanasi: Chaukhambha Surabharati Prakashan; 2015. p. 449.
  5. Sahil Gupta, Ayurvedic Aspects of Allergies and Fungal Infections, Edition 2021, Seborrheic Dermatitis  Chapter No. 40, Page No. 239-244.

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Dr. Sahil Gupta completed his Bachelor of Ayurveda in Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) and Master’s Degree in Health Administration (MHA) India. He is Registered Ayurvedic Doctor & Vaidya in India having Registration No. 23780. He is the CEO and founder of IAFA. After completing BAMS, Dr. Sahil Gupta started practicing Ayruveda by giving prime importance to allergic disorders management. He became the first Ayurvedic doctor to cure Food Allergies through Ayurveda. Read More About Dr. Sahil Gupta.

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