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[4 min read] What is the association between diet and seborrhoeic dermatitis?

Seborrhoeic dermatitis – a form of skin inflammation that usually occurs on the scalp, face or torso, in or around areas that naturally produce an oily substance known as sebum – is a chronic disease and although there are a large number of treatments, none are curative.

Current treatments for seborrhoeic dermatitis provide only temporary relief, so identifying modifiable lifestyle factors may help to reduce the burden of the condition. As such, a study in the Netherlands assessed the role of antioxidants, which are commonly found in fruits and vegetables, as they have been shown to be effective for other inflammatory skin diseases. The objective of the study was to determine whether specific dietary patterns or total antioxidant capacity are associated with seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Participants were included from the Rotterdam Study with a skin examination and a food frequency questionnaire. Total antioxidant capacity was assessed on the basis of ferric reducing antioxidant potential of each food item. Dietary patterns were identified with principal component analysis. In total, 4,379 participants were included in the study, of whom 636 (14.5 per cent) had seborrhoeic dermatitis.

The study found that a high fruit intake was associated with a 25 per cent lower risk of seborrhoeic dermatitis, whereas a “Western” diet was associated with a 47 per cent increased risk, but only in women and not in men.

There was no connection determined between the location or severity of the disease and the diet, and the study did not investigate individual dietary components. The study recommended that people eat more than 200 grams per day of fruit and to have less meat, which is a main component of the Western diet. There was no association with total dietary antioxidant capacity.

As this was an association study, it does not prove that following this advice will help seborrhoeic dermatitis, but could be worthwhile informing patients who are interested in dietary advice.

Read more recent research.

Source: Association between Diet and Seborrheic Dermatitis: A Cross-Sectional Study. Sanders, Martijn G.H. et al. Journal of Investigative Dermatology , Volume 139 , Issue 1 , 108 – 114

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