Clarisonic for Seborrheic Dermatitis

I started hearing rumblings of the amazing Clarisonic a few years ago. Devotees of the skin gizmo said it changed their skin for the better, dramatically so. The company that makes the Clarisonic claims that it cleans skin six times better than washing your face with soap and water in the usual manner. It’s soft bristles massage the face high speed.

So when I had a recent bout of my seborrheic dermatitis, I wondered if this expensive (about $100) tool would help. I did a lot of research trying to determine if the Clarisonic would help seborrheic dermatitis or not. There wasn’t much info, so ultimately, I decided to take the gamble.

And I’m so glad I did! I seriously love it! Even just using it with plain ‘ol Cetaphil, the Clarisonic cleared up my seborrheic dermatitis. I use it once or twice a day with whatever my cleanser dujour is, then follow it up with moisturizer – a day cream geared to sensitive skin in the morning and a generous slather of coconut oil at night.

I was most afraid the Clarisonic would be too intense for my sensitive skin, but it is very gentle. I try NOT to rub it on my face or drag it around. I hold it gently place and I don’t push into my skin whatsoever. Then I pick it up, move it over an inch and hold it in place for a few seconds there.

How is it that the Clarisonic helps the seborrheic dermatitis go away? My theory is that it cleans out your pores so thoroughly that it gets rid of the sebum, bacteria and yeast that contribute to SD. Also, the gentle exfoliation helps improve the tone of skin and get rid of the flakes. It is reported that your skin absorbs products better/deeper after using the Clarisonic, so it will also help your topical creams or moisturizers be much more effective.

The Clarisonic might not work for everyone, but it really helped me with my seborrheic dermatitis and even Rosacea. It’s an expensive thing to try, so talk to your dermatologist before jumping in.

I have no relationship with the folks at Clarisonic

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So . . . What IS Seborrheic Dermatitis?

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I didn’t know there was a fancy medical name for my dandruff or for the flaky skin on my nose and forehead. It was after more than ten years of itchy-red-yucky-hideous-unomfortable skin problems that I finally heard the words, Seborrheic Dermatitis.

Huh? What is seborrheic dermatitis? This sounds serious. Am I dying?!

Turns out, seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory skin disorder that is usually characterized by redness, flakiness, itchiness and all-around discomfort. It is often greasy scales, though it also seems dry at the same time, which is confusing when you are trying to self-treat. The most common places to suffer from seborrheic dermatitis is the scalp, face and torso or any area that has sebaceous glands.

What causes seborrheic dermatitis? It’s probably genetic and can be brought on by stress, hormones, other health problems or environmental triggers. The rash itself is caused by a over-production of sebum, which then turns into an infection . . . which then causes inflammation. There’s a widely-embraed, though unproven, theory that seborrheic dermatitis is an inflammatory response to yeast. More on that in another blog post.

Seborrheic dermatitis can really vary in appearance from one person to the next. Some people have yellow flakes, others gray or white. It can happen on your nose, nose folds, cheeks, forehead, chin, behind your ears, eyebrows, eyelashes, arm pitts, genital area, back, stomach, chest . . .it’s not fun, people! Oh, and probably the most common of all: the scalp! If only flakes could be the hottest hair accessory.

There are lots of solutions out there to help with seborrheic dermatitis, but no actual cure.

So that’s Seborrheic Dermatitis 101. I’ve covered the basics here, but if you are like me, you’re still left with LOTS of questions. Please feel free to ask questions or contribute to the conversation in the comments.

*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical expert. I’m just a regular ‘ol twentysomething (ok, thirtysomething) mom who has deat with acne and seborrheic dermatitis for almost twenty years. I want to write what I learn and what I experience as a sufferer of skin problems. PLEASE talk to a general practitioner or dermatologist before trying a new skin care regime.


How I Treat my Sebhorheic Dermatitis: Scalp Edition

Here is what works best for treating the sebhorreic dermatitis on my scalp, but only if I’m totally committed. (Some of the product links below are affiliate links to help fund the blog.)

How I treat my dandruff

You must have three or more different types of dandruff shampoo on hand, plus one regular shampoo.

1. Wash hair with regular shampoo first to clean scalp (sometimes I skip this to save time)

2. Wash hair with one dandruff shampoo. Let it sit there for a few minutes. Rinse well.

3. Wash hair with a second dandruff shampoo, let it sit, rinse very, very well.

Note: Cycle the dandruff shampoos constantly and introduce new ones often. Make sure they feature different ingredients. For example, on Monday I might use Nizoral and Selson Blue. On Tuesday I might use TGel and Head & Shoulders. On Wednesday, I might use Selson Blue and a tea tree oil shampoo.

4. Then I condition my hair, but keep it away from my scalp. Once again, rinse well!

5. I blow dry my hair or let it air dry down. If I put my hair in a ponytail wet, it turns into this green house or something and my dandruff goes bananas!

I sometimes dab on some coconut oil to the worst spots on my scalp and I want to try doing a full-on, crazy-lady coconut oil treatment weekly for awhile, to see if that helps. I only wish I had a Clarisonic I could use on my scalp? How weird would it be to use an electric toothbrush on my scalp? Yeah, you’re right. Pretty weird.

So that’s how I deal with my scalp dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis) . . . but it is not going nearly as well as the solutions I have found for my face.

Leave your best tips in the comments on how you deal with your scalp flakes!


My Skin’s Story

At one point, I am assured by old family photos, I had lovely porcelain skin. That flawless epidermis was soon splashed with freckles, which were replaced with pimples in adolescence. I started suffering from acne when I was 11 or 12.

To both combat and conceal the blemishes, my mom shuffled me straight to the Clinque counter, hoping that excellent skin care would fix the problem and that quality makeup could boost my sagging self-esteem in the meantime.

But no dice. It was another nearly ten years of dermatology appointments, antibiotics, birth control, topical creams, infomercial products, homeopathic treatments and lots and lots of tears before the acne subsided.

At the same time, I had weird patches of dry skin. Itchy, too. I remember in the afternoons I walked home from school, I would rub flakes from my forehead or nose with the ribbed fabric of my black hoodie. I’d pull the wrist of the hoodie over my hand and rub like crazy. I felt like I could rub my skin forever and never see an end to the flakes. They were tinted beige, thanks to the gobs of foundation I used.

face dandruff

When the acne started to fade away (never completely, but good enough), I had a few moment of actually feeling like I had pretty skin. Ah, bliss. Those were those days.

Soon, though I was struggling with those dry patches. I had never been diagnosed with seborrheic dermatitis, and I had never even heard of it. I only though of my skin as “dry and sensitive.”

Once, my husband and I were about to head out on a trip to New York City. It was a dream vacation for me, until I woke up with red, dry, itchy, flaky, splotchy skin! Even after exfoliating gently, applying cold compresses and carefully applying makeup, my skin still sucked. I was crying, wishing I could just cancel the whole trip. With minutes to spare, I raced to a local health food store and bought a product that claimed to treat Rosacea. I washed my face again and reapplied my makeup on the way to the airport. The product buuuurned my skin, but improved the appearance slightly.

As soon as we returned, I booked an appointment with a dermatologist. She looked at me for about twenty seconds, cocked her head and proclaimed, “Seborrheic dermatitis . . . Maybe a touch of Rosacea.” She wrote a script and was out the door in under a minute.

Once I started using the sulphur wash and Elidel, my skin improved dramatically. But when I got pregnant, my doc told me to stop using the Elidel for the Reston my pregnancy and while nursing. Since I planned to breastfeed for a year or longer, I felt a sense of panic at what would happen to my skin!

I think topical prescription creams can really save the day when your skin is at its worst, but I realized that I wanted to find a lifestyle treatment so I wouldn’t have to depend on these prescriptions, even if the risks are low. Since then, I have been trying to figure out the right skin care for my skin and scalp. I have been frantically reading everything online and trying different options.

No, it’s not the end of the world to have a little dandruff or red, flaky skin. But it can be physically painful, or at the very least aggravating. And we all want to look our best. I am still searching for the magical cure for sebhorreic dermatitis. There is actually a huge void of information online, in my opinion. I’m going to gather and post as much as I can on this website. Kiss your flakes goodbye!