I wanted to share with you all my own experiences with SD, and most importantly, give hope to those who are unsuccessfully searching for answers. I'm not saying I have a definite cure, but I myself am able to control my condition, and have successfully done so for the last 4 months. Sorry this is along post, but well worth the read!
Having suffered from SD almost my whole life, I, like most of you, was pretty much resigned to the fact that there is no cure. And that the only treatment was topical ointments, creams and shampoos. Now and then I would get frustrated and seek the advice of another GP or dermatologist, only to receive the same answer.
So years went by, and my curiosity and interest in my condition grew. Surely there had to be another treatment other than harsh corticosteroids and anti-dandruff and anti-fungal shampoos? More frustratingly I found that the steroids were the only consistently effective treatment. The shampoos would sometimes work, but other times they would lead to unwelcome side effects such as smelly scalp and oily hair.
I went through it all - embarrassing dandruff, itchy flaky red skin on my face scalp and back, weeping raw skin, smelly scalp. So frustrating! What I did start to notice that there was a certain pattern to my flare ups. If I had a particularly "unhealthy" week i.e. junk food, partying = lots of alcohol, my SD would seem to flair up. Having monitored this for a few months, I mentioned this to the GP during my next corticosteroid refuel stop. To which he laughed and replied, "well I guess you can use your condition as a warning sign of when you haven't been behaving" yeh thanks... I did always have a sneaking suspicion that my chocoholic ways could perhaps be related to SB breakouts, but I was never certain, nor did I want to know! :)
About 6 months ago, I noticed something else about my health which was also bothering me. I realised that I would more often than not bloat after certain foods. I hadn't worked out which foods at this stage, but I would know when it would happen as my wife would point out that I had an instant double chin. On top of this I did need to lose a few pounds, so I started hitting the gym and drinking protein shakes. What I noticed was that these protein shakes would have an instant effect on my bloating. Oh oh.
So it began.... a dairy free diet! eeek! I love dairy and always have. I could live on a diet of milk, cheese, buttered bread and chocolate! Instantly I noticed the bloating became less, although, it did not improve completely. After a month of the diet, I also noticed another thing. My SD was practically gone! there were only a few slight breakouts in a month and no corticosteroid treatment!
With this information, I went and saw a GP that was recommended to me. This GP had diagnosed my friend with Coeliac desease. I told her about my findings, and she listened to me patiently. She then informed me that, whether or not it's true, western medicine doesn't believe in a relationship between diet and seborrheic dermatitis. She then gave me the usual malassezia fungas explanation, prescribed ketaconzole shampoo and cream and then addressed my apparent food allergy as a separate matter. She booked me in for a lactose and fructose intolerance breath test.
The lactose test came back negative, and I never did the fructose test as I accidentally ate an apple the day before the test! anyway, I was still sure I had a dairy allergy, so I decided to (reluctantly) go and see a naturopath. I have for years been a sceptic of alternative medicines, going so far as to call them witch doctors! But I swallowed my pride and I didn't regret it.
The naturopath put me on some celloid supplements and digestive protein to aid my digestion, and within 2 weeks my bloating had stopped. However, just so none of you think I'm ALL for the naturopaths and against western doctors, one thing that I have realised is that no practitioner, no matter how learner or heralded they are knows the answer to everything. The sooner you all realise that, the better. Question everything! So anyway, the naturopath made up a moisturiser from Vitamin e, lavender oil and geranium oil which I started using on my face for the minor SD breakouts. Almost instantly after seeing the naturopath my SD got progressively worse on my face. It was the worst it had been in years: red raw, burning, tight, flaky. The naturopath's explanation was that the supplements were "detoxing" my body, and the skin was the last line of defence. this sounded logical enough, however, it didn't get better. So I stopped using the cream and I bought other creams, from milk udder cream to manuka honey based creams, some of which worked better on my SD than others. It wasn't until a few months later that I worked out the creams themselves had been causing the reactions!
Anyway, I will keep the rest as short as possible event though it was quite a journey!I tried all sorts of allergy treatments, from NAET allergy elimination to elimination diets, but the difficulty was that my SD would not flair up for a few days after I would eat whatever the culprit was. this made it extremely difficult to diagnose myself.
Finally I was referred to a pathology lab who do blood test testing for IgE allergens in the blood. The great thing about this test is that you don't have to have eaten the allergens before doing the test for it to be accurate. So i did the IgE 93 test which tests against 93 different foods.
And the results were on a scale of +1 to +3, +3 being the strongest sensitivity.
+3 - Cow's milk
+2 - Bakers and brewer's yeast, cola bean
+1 - Soya bean, wheat, almonds, cashews, rice
So no surprise with Cow's milk, but some of the others were a bit. I was told the +3 should be eliminated from the diet, the +2 can be consumed on occasion, and the +1 should not be eaten every day, but can be consumed. The idea is that after giving the body a rest, the immune system can build up a resistance and hopefully I can one day be cured of these allergies!
So the new diet began. I can tell you, it wasn't easy, and I lost a lot of weight and muscle mass, however, now after 4 months, I'm in the best shape of my life and I can't put on weight if I try! I also cut down the sugars in my diet and don't eat sweets at all any more, as I have also found that excess Sugar consumption can also flair up the SD. I now been going 4 months without any major flair ups and when i get a minor one i know it has been knowingly self inflicted cos I had a moment of weakness! And now it takes about a week for my SD to flair up after dairy, whereas it used to take a few days.
I can only hope this story helps someone out there. Sorry it was so long, but I felt that every detail was relevant as you can never know how it may all be related! The moral is that don't just take your GP or your dermatologist's opinion or diagnosis as gospel! Seek several opinions, and don't be afraid to seek alternative treatments! We're fortunate here in australia to have a free healthcare system, however, not everything was covered for me and it was quite an expensive process. But as you can imagine it was well worth it!