two bottles of Milk of Magnesia (MoM) laxative

Q. My sister is coming over in a week. I have dandruff on my face (eyebrows, nose, forehead and inside my ears). Can I cure it with Vicks or other remedies? Please tell me how.

A. Facial dandruff is called seborrheic dermatitis, and it is usually caused by overgrowth of yeast called Malassezia. Applying Vicks to the flaky areas morning and evening should help because of its antifungal ingredients.

Milk of Magnesia (MoM) might also work. Apply a thin layer after you wash your face at bedtime and leave it on overnight. Wash it off in the morning with your usual cleanser. This frequently helps, though it may take more than a week to clear the skin completely.

Here’s one reader’s report on her experiment with Milk of Magnesia:

“Milk of Magnesia is FANTASTIC for rosacea, and it does a pretty good job on eczema. I use a cotton pad and dab it on affected areas morning and night. Let it dry, then apply whatever lotion or moisturizer you normally use. The moisturizer/lotion will make the white residue from the MoM disappear. Also, people with rosacea should not use foaming cleansers or toners with alcohol. They are too harsh chemically. Use cream cleansers instead. (I don’t use toners at all.)”

It probably won’t surprise you to learn that some readers have found dandruff shampoo helpful for seborrheic dermatitis (and also rosacea). Others have used Listerine for scalp or facial dandruff.

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  1. charlotte T
    Winnipeg, MB, Canada

    I have dermatitis on my face, ears and head, AND chronic dry eye, causing blepharitis, dandruff of the eyes. For my face, ears and hair, Apple Cider Vinegar is nothing short of amazing. I rinse and do not wash it off. If it’s between washings (hair), and my head is getting a little itchy, I will spray my scalp with ACV and occasionally I will, post washing (and here, I rinse), I squeeze and use the juice of a lemon and work it into my scalp, leaving it for an hour or so. Then I rinse well and the itch, and all the guck that was on my scalp is squeaky, clean, gone!

    As to the blepharitis, I’ve tried it all. I now use only organic honey to clean my face and, as honey has anti-inflammatory properties so it’s 100% organic, and beneficial. For eyes, put a few drops in distilled water, and use to alleviate dryness. Nothing has worked better for my eyelash dandruff which, at times, can be almost blinding and hugely painful. I also use a mixture of castor oil (compounded by a pharmacy) with a few drops of tea tree oil in it, and put this on my eye lashes in the morning and evening, and during the day when I have time.

    I have found my eyelashes are less brittle and less likely to fall out (another symptom of dry eye). I have glaucoma but my specialist has not found any of this treatment detrimental to the drops I am using to control my eye pressures and he is surprised at the improvement achieved with all natural methods. Try it.

    The ACV, depending on the severity of your facial dandruff, may have to be used as a toner every night, or at least until your face clears up. I find I have been unable to go for more than 3-4 days without requiring the use of it, so, to avoid forgetting, I just use it daily. My skin is healthier for not having to deal with all the chemicals in the products I WAS using, and my hair is amazing, requires washing only once every 7-10 days, AND I wash it with sifted Rye Flour and nothing else.

  2. Trisha

    I have had this for over a year now, quite bad. I tried everything from Dead Sea salt washes to coconut oil. The only thing that works for me is a combination of a Dermaveen face wash which I think has oatmeal extract, then a light layer of Skin natural facial moisturiser in the morning and night. I’ve been doing this for months and have had little to no symptoms.

    I recently stopped my routine as I wanted to try a scar cream as I have some scarring from scratching my face (which I used to do in my sleep). In three days the SD was back completely, and it’s still getting back to its normal level. Now I am using the Dermaveen and Skin again. Both products are under $10, and you can get them from any pharmacy in Australia – I seriously recommend trying this because it’s the only thing that’s helped for me.

  3. Mary

    I was bitten by a dog and the wounds were not healing very quickly. A friend suggested using raw honey. I apply, then cover the wound to keep the honey off my clothes.

    Google honey for healing and if interested, applying it to a test area when you can leave it on for a while without messing up your life, then shower off later on.

    Who wants to be ant bait?

  4. wayne

    vinegar works great for me. I use it full strength as a rinse in the shower, full head and face for about a minute then rinse. I use a good moisturiser after and have had good results.

  5. abigail

    Tea tree oil can produce reactions if used continuously for a long period of time.

  6. Jean
    San Antonio, Texas

    I completely cured my seborrheic dermatitis many years ago with Vitamin B3 -also known as niacinamide. It is an ingredient in a popular facial cream brand. Now I get an inexpensive organic serum containing 5% niacinamide on the internet to avoid parabens and other stuff I don’t want! This remedy works like a charm and benefits the skin in other ways as well.

  7. Linda

    Can anyone tell me the difference between Seborrheic Dermatitis and Seborrheic Keratosis?
    I have been diagnosed with Seborrheic Keratosis and I have no dandruff at all…. but I do have lots of bumps, craters and scab like areas on my scalp with lots of itching….. hair is thinning also. I see lots of articles on Seborrheic Dermatitis, but never on Seborrheic Keratosis. If you have any information for me, I would really appreciate it!

    • The People's Pharmacy

      Seborrheic keratosis is just as you have described it: bumps on the skin. People are more prone to these with aging, and we have not seen any drug or nondrug treatments that help. Luckily, seborrheic keratosis seems not to be dangerous, but many folks find it quite annoying.

  8. Kathleen

    Vinegar and tea tree oil also help.

  9. cpmt

    I got the same problem when I had MRI done … I didn’t know I was allergic to the dye. Maybe you are too? and check the food you are eating it is possible they are reactions to someone. Just an idea.

  10. Walt

    I had this dermatitis for many years on my head & face trying everything from the drug store. I grew a beard to cover it up. Finally I read about using apple cider vinegar in 50% solution with water as a rinse after shampooing. After a couple of weeks of rinsing with the solution the flaky-itchy condition has gone away & as a bonus my hair is much softer.

  11. Megan

    my doctor told me to use 1% hydrocortisone cream. Worked like a charm

  12. Michael W.

    I didn’t know about some of these remedies but I gotta try something new cause this condition is driving me nuts. I have a flare up right now on my face as usual….I’ve tried lots of creams…..but keeps coming back more often and seems to be harder to get rid of. I’m in germany right now but since the base closed near me I must drive a ways to get to the army px….geeeze what can I use that I might already have? I have benedryl and apple cider vinegar.

    • rusti

      Apple cider vinegar may help, and coconut oil, for some natural remedies. What I would consider also is to go organic as much as you can, having a whole food diet only. Since going organic for myself a dry itchy skin condition cleared up totally, not having to use anything for years. Organic raw apple cider vinegar such as Braggs contains all the enzymes and nutrients. It clears up dandruff I’ve read (which is a fungal infection) so it may help you as well.

  13. Tara

    I have used nearly everything under the sun and one day I was talking with my neighbor telling him about my condition and how I am so fed up with not finding anything that will provide relief. He told me to used Cetaphil Moisturing Cream. I noticed a difference after 1 week and I had been on prescribed medication for nearly 2 years. My face is clearer, it feels smoother, it isn’t dry nor irritated. I have been using it for 1 month now and my family and friends have noticed a big difference and I can see and feel the difference. Try it, it can’t hurt. You have tried everything else.

  14. Liz

    2 year’s ago I went to a Dermatologist about my facial problem to be diagnosed with seborrheic dermatitis, whatever! Go and get this steroid cream, that will fix you up. So I did and yes it did. It went then came back, a yo yo thing. Tried all sorts of good nourishing creams, wasn’t too bad until a week ago when I was so red raw. So fed up with this I started to Google this problem, why I didn’t do this 2 years ago I don’t know.

    Anyway saw a blog about water and sea salt. Open your pores up with splashes of warm water or a hot face cloth and then wash or submerse your face in good quality mineral salt. I have done this for only 2 days and my redness is less and flakey skin going away. I am smiling, obviously working. So happy. Went to chemist today to get liquid magnesia which apparently also works. Applied after shower, no flakey skin but have slight redness. Will see what is like in the morning. Wish me luck. I will let you know. Better though than creams, steroids etc. Sea salt great so far

  15. Mark

    There is a product made by Neosporin called Eczema Essentials. It’s a relipid formula. I purchased three tubes of it over a year ago and I still have about 3oz left so it lasts a long time and it works wonders clear skin in three days!

    • C.C.

      I use Cortazone for eczema everytime I wash my face and put on my trouble spots and it works wonders for me. No major flakes or red blotchs for weeks and theres been some cool winds blowing around here.

      • Cal

        cc. in Ky,
        Cortisone will thin out your skin. Be very carful using it.
        Do not use it for more then a week or so..

        Mark ,
        Neosporin burns the little bit of Eczema I have on one eye brow!..

  16. Reighn Buenaventura

    So yeah. I am a Filipino college student now. 19 years of age.
    I had this problem back when I was in 4th year High school (16 yrs old). I went to a dermatitis knowing that this is caused by the cold weather and stress. She had given me creams. The creams worked. Great relief.
    But after a year, the red spots with flakes came to show again. So I had to use the prescribed creams again. it worked well after a month of usage.
    Now, the problem is up again and I tried using the creams again but it has been a month now since i started uding the prescribed creams and nothing really happened but the condition gotten worse.
    I am loosing my self confidence now. And thinking why of all the people it has to be me. This is really depressing.
    Please leave me a message if you found solutions to this problem. Thanks. :)

    • mechanical man

      Hey reighn. I’m 22. Also a filipino. We have the same problem. When I was in first year college, I also went to a dermatologist and had this case checked. I was also given a cream but I don’t find it effective. What I did is I used vicks and found it effective. As for my maintenance, I use master facial moisturizer so that my skin will always be moisturized. I only use vicks when those irritating dandruffs appear.

  17. Josh

    The red itchy spots with the yellow spots in the middle that look like ant bites are hives. I get them as well on my face, especially when stressed. I take Ranitidine antiacid & and benadryl and it keeps them away, but I have to take them both once a day. Good luck!

  18. AMP

    For the last two years, I’ve been fighting a fungus which began around my ears and on my back during a very humid summer and spread to my scalp and eyebrows. I went to a bunch of lousy doctors who didn’t even look at the problem and all seemed to think I was crazy. I spent seven months of suffering and trying every shampoo and ointment possible to sooth the burning and swelling redness as it spread. When my hair began to fall out in circles all over my head.
    I finally went to a cedar sinai doctor who actually looked and found it was a fungal infection which began as seborrhic dermatitis. I got 4 weeks of oral fluconazole treatment and nizoral 2% prescription. Two years later, 90% has gradually regrown but still keeping my head shaved. It seems to be phasing out but will flare up again if I don’t stay on top of my routine. sometimes (like right now) my eyebrow is flaring and I lost all the brow hairs on one side.
    Recommended natural treatments:
    1) soak in apple cider vineqar
    2) extra virgin coconut oil
    3) tea tree oil and soap

  19. Rob

    The Olive Oil will also act as a moisturiser – just apply it lightly if you live in a hot climate, & allow time for it to soak in. (Try it first before going to bed, you might be able to use it at night rather than in the daytime.)

  20. UB

    As a doctor I am struggling with this condition. Prolonged steroid and antifungal use has side effects. For a quick relief I use SELSUN 1% shampoo, not selsun blue. I had this problem from years now and it is totally related to diet.
    Aggravating factors (dehydration, cold weather, soap use, carbonated drinks, sweets).
    Relieving factors (hydration, enough sleep, salads, sweating -after bath to ra some light exercise)
    Quick relief: selsun shampoo or lotion. Currently I don’t have enough time and most important diet checkup, if anyone has time, let me know, I will provide some material for study purpose and pinpointing probable cause.

  21. L.G.

    The information was very helpful. I live in a tropical climate region and like many of these people I have visited so many Dermatologists for the past 18 years. I’ve never totally gotten long term relief for facial dandruff. I’ve tried everything and I’ve developed a fear of trying new things because most product’s worsens the original problem.
    I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one dealing with this situation. It’s summer now when the problem seems to get worse. I will try some of these remedies. However I need to know a moisturizer that I can use in this climate please. Thank you.

  22. Donnie

    I tried the milk of magnesia only two applications and have already seen and can tell a big change for the better thanks so much for all your help.

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