Every doctor who sees a younger population in his practice, has to deal with Seborreic Dermatitis. It is not a life threatening disorder, nor is it markedly grotesque, but those patients who develop it, especially females, want it to go away yesterday!
No one knows what, specifically, is the underlying cause. We do know that a fungus, Malassezia furfur, is the criminal in this disease and a number of other skin diseases.
This fungus loves to chew on Fat Molecules, especially “Saturated Fat” molecules. It doesn’t like the “Unsaturated Fat” molecules and spits them out. Those dumb molecules get under the top layer of your skin and cause your immune system to go crazy. As a result, you get an “Inflammatory Response” which makes your underlying skin look a nasty red. And above this redness are a ton of scales of old skin.
You can have this happen anywhere, but as can be seen by the diagram, the place where it is most commonly found are the juncture areas of hair and skin. YUK!
So what do you do? See your weary, but always fiendly, “Doc” and ask him: “What can you do about this?” He has seen this so often, and has read so many articles about diagnosis and treatment, that occasionally he wakes up scratching his nose and wondering whether he himself has it.
A quick look into a mirror proves that he was having a nightmare, and he goes to sleep wondering if they would give him a Noble Prize for curing Seborreic Dermatitis.
WHAT DO DO?
There is an infinite list of treatments.
1. Attack the inflamation with steroids.
2. Attack the fungus with “Anti-Fungal” creams or lotions.
3. Change the diet.
4. Avoid stress and sleepless nights.
5. Have the patient take a vacation in the cool mountains. (This always brings on smiles.)
I like the idea of attacking the fungus, since the fungus is the underlying cause of all else. There are many anti-fungal creams, but Ketoconazole seemed to be the most efficacious. It normally took three to five days for a good result and then the anti-fungal had to be applied daily or there would be a re-occurrence.
Since there was an underlying fat involved, I would test for fat levels in the blood stream. These were generally negative. The disease seemed to have the same type of pattern as acne, but the treatments for acne were ineffective.
WHAT DO THEY USE IN ASIA?
A little research into Asian Medicine, Chinese and Indian, did not help. Finally, it occurred to me that Virgin Coconut Oil and Tea Tree Oil, from Australia, were excellent anti-fungals.
I wanted something that was low in cost, had no side effects, and could be used in a casual manner. Something that the patient would rub in without thinking it was a “medicine.”
Virgin Coconut Oil seemed perfect. I informed the patient that the VCO was not a proven treatment. That there could be allergic reactions, etc.
After a thorough disclaimer and an open choice, I gave the patient a prescription for an anti-fungal cream and appropriate advice concerning alternative methods of treating skin problems. I was very careful not to show preference for the alternative medicine.
Not all patients had positive results with the VCO. Some had no results and they were advised to try the anti-fungal cream. If the condition persisted a referral to a dermatologist was always available.
However, some patients had excellent results with the VCO. This could have been accidental. It could have been a misdiagnosis. Or, it could have been the fact that the Lauric Acid, a long fatty acid in VCO, had destroyed a large number of the fungus which was causing this complicated condition.
I, frankly, do not know. But I think VCO which is a popular food and used widely across the world, should be considered when this condition arises.