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Seborrheic dermatitis is essentially a more severe form of dandruff, but what’s behind it? Find out what causes seborrheic dermatitis and how you can keep it under control.


Like dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis is caused by a naturally occurring microbe called Malassezia globosa that’s found on everybody’s scalp.

Your scalp produces natural oils called sebum, and Malassezia globosa breaks it down into an irritant – oleic acid.

The scalp’s natural reaction is to rapidly increase the production of new skin cells, which build up in clumps on the scalp and become visible flakes.

Seborrheic dermatitis can’t be cured – it’s what we call a recurring condition – but usually it can be easily and effectively managed with the right products and routine.

Why are some people more prone to seborrheic dermatitis than others?
It’s mostly down to genetics…

Some of us are simply more likely to have scalp problems if it’s in our genes to be more sensitive to the oleic acid produced by Malassezia.

People with particularly high oil production might be more likely to suffer from seborrheic dermatitis too, as more oleic acid is produced from the sebum.

Don’t forget hormones…
Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis can also flare up during hormonal changes, for example during adolescence or at particularly stressful times.

So how can you get rid of it?
Since seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff have the same cause, a powerful dandruff shampoo may provide enough relief to help eliminate your symptoms.

Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Shampoo is specifically developed to help stop the toughest dandruff without a prescription. It contains a different active ingredient than our other dandruff shampoos, 1% selenium sulphide, and is clinically proven to tackle the more severe flaking, like that associated with seborrheic dermatitis.

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