First, I visited an allergist and found out I had a mild allergy to wheat, eggs, rye and milk. I also avoided using products like heavy oils, butters and petroleum jelly because these ingredients cultivate fungus on the scalp. It’s surprising how many products have those ingredients in them. I went from having a closet full of products to only being able to use two in my routine, but analyzing the ingredients and scaling back accordingly has helped prevent any flare-ups.
Shortly after, I found out that I was allergic to acrylic, which put other things into perspective. It made sense why certain hairstyles caused such intense reactions for me. My allergy to acrylic (which is found in synthetic hair, yarn, etc.) would cause contact dermatitis, which then caused a flareup of my seborrheic dermatitis. Knowing these things narrowed down the products and styles I could try, which also meant that I had to rethink how I expressed myself through my hair.
I Decided to Bring Protective Styles Back into My Life.
I used my hair as a form of expression for over a decade, so to no longer have that option felt like I lost part of myself. I knew that my hair grows the most when it’s locked because of how little I need to manipulate it and the simplicity of the products I use (usually just some water and oil on my ends). Though it’s not the style I want to wear all the time, it’s a style I had to settle for. There wasn’t much else I could do with my hair because of my allergies.
When I tried braids again, it was exciting because I was finally able to change things up. It also was good to see that applying a rice water spray had the greatest impact on my scalp. It wasn’t irritating and it didn't trigger any allergies. However, adding fake hair did cause a slight irritation (since it’s made of acrylic) but not nearly as much as it usually does. Since then, any protective style I do has to involve human hair or just my own hair. So far, I’ve done mini twists, cornrows, box braids— you name it, I’ve tried it.
It’s Been An Adjustment Living with Seborrheic Dermatitis.
I'm a very impulsive person, so when I see a style I like, I immediately start planning how I'm going to wear it. The only difference now is I find alternatives and consider how the style may affect my scalp. This limit on my creativity forces me to put my focus elsewhere like my hair health and length retention.
My routine now consists of low-manipulation styles, washing my hair 1-2 times a week and avoiding oils on my scalp. I even started working on my own hair tea to nourish my strands and scalp. I haven't quite gotten the formula down yet, but it's in the works.
I also give myself daily scalp massages to help circulate blood flow and gently lift any buildup (or flakes) from the scalp, which aids in hair growth. I hope my hair continues to grow healthily and I'd also like to create better home remedies for my scalp.
While my current routine is pretty boring, I'll take boring over a scalp flare-up any day. Before, I never really thought about my relationship with my hair outside of how I expressed myself through different styles. Now, I'm excited about reaching new hair goals and I'm grateful that my scalp is no longer irritated. I'm open to slowly introducing new styles that work for my hair, and with my scalp issues finally under control, I'm hopeful that I can finally grow my hair out.