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Will Smearing Greek Yogurt on the Face Ease Flakes?

Slathering Greek yogurt on a flaky face and scalp can help stop the itching and irritation of seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.

Have you ever heard of seborrheic dermatitis? This skin condition resembles dandruff on the face. Probably the cause of both conditions is an overgrowth of the yeast that normally co-exists with other microbes on our face and scalp skin. The prime candidates belong to the genus Malassezia. This type of yeast loves the oils that human skin produces (Triana et al, Frontiers in Microbiology, Sep. 14, 2017). Dermatologists prescribe topical steroids or immune modulating compounds to treat this condition (Gupta & Versteeg, American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, April 2017). But one reader reports significant success with Greek yogurt.

How Do You Use Greek Yogurt to Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis?

Q. I had been diagnosed with seborrheic dermatitis and I also had dandruff. One day I read in a magazine that Greek yogurt could help.

I decided to give it a try and shampooed with it, also applying it to my face. The next day the dermatitis was gone. I continue to apply yogurt before washing my hair.

That was over eight years ago, and I haven’t had dandruff or dermatitis since. I use Chobani but I suppose any brand of Greek yogurt would work.

A. There is a community of microbes that normally live on our skin and scalp. When the balance is disrupted, the result can be dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. This skin condition is similar to dandruff on the face, causing itching, redness and flaking.

Restoring Microbial Balance:

We have not seen any studies of your approach, but research on a probiotic solution applied to the scalp showed that it helped restore microbiome balance (Kao et al, Journal of Microbial & Biochemical Technology, Aug. 2016). The acetic acid produced by the probiotic in the studied solution was thought to be beneficial. While yogurt may not have acetic acid, the lactic acid in yogurt might work in a similar fashion. Several years ago, one reader reported that taking a probiotic orally was beneficial against dandruff.

Other Home Remedies for Dandruff and Seborrheic Dermatitis:

People have found other home remedies helpful for dandruff. They include soaking the scalp in old-fashioned amber Listerine or a baking soda solution. Some people have had success with salt water, apple cider vinegar or milk of magnesia.

Noxzema for Seborrheic Dermatitis:

Some other readers have found relief with Noxzema. Here is one such story:

Q. My dermatologist prescribed both a gel and a cream for seborrheic dermatitis, but neither worked. Then I happened to clean my face with Noxzema, although I had not used it for 50 years.

The seborrheic dermatitis has gone away. I had already stopped using the prescription medication, so Noxzema gets the credit.

A. Noxzema is a non-soap facial cleanser. Many readers have found it helpful against eczema. Perhaps others with seborrheic dermatitis (a skin condition characterized by flakes, itch and redness, like dandruff on the face) may also find it helpful.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
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