Ever wondered why everybody with seborrheic dermatitis aka dandruff swears by coconut oil? The miracle worker here is a medium-chain fatty acid called caprylic acid (also known as octanoic acid). Caprylic acid has excellent antifungal properties against fungi which causes seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp. Before opting for more irritating options like coal tar, or salicylic acid, read on to discover the benefits of using caprylic acid as a treatment for seborrheic dermatitis.
Properties of Caprylic acid
Caprylic acid is one of the 3 medium chain fatty acids (MTC) found in coconut oil. Below are the main benefits of this compound:
Antifungal and anti microbial effect
Caprylic acid is commonly used as a fungicide, to treat yeasts infections like candida or Malassezia which cause skin and hair disorders
Caprylic acid is usually paired with glycerin to produce a hydrating compound known as a caprylic triglyceride. This s a strong emollient used in both skin and hair care products to help seal moisture with the skin and the scalp.
Improves digestion and gut health
In addition to treating skin and hair conditions, caprylic acid also works to improve gut health and is recommended for the treatment of inflammatory digestive disorders like spontaneous colitis. This is due to its antimicrobial and well as anti-inflammatory properties.
How Caprylic acid Works for Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is a severe form of eczema that occurs on the sebaceous areas of the skin like on the scalp, nose, and back. This skin condition is known to be triggered by various factors among which is the overgrowth of fungi on the skin.
Malassezia is a fungus naturally present in the skin’s microbiome. While it is usually harmless, an overgrowth of this yeast on the scalp will trigger seborrheic dermatitis. Malassezia depends on fatty acids present in the sebaceous glands found on the scalp to grow. It breaks down fatty acids in the scalp by producing lipases irritating the skin.
Unlike most fatty acids present in the scalp’s sebum, caprylic acid is one of the few which Malassezia cannot break down as such its antifungal properties can prevent the growth of this fungi and restore a healthy scalp.
Caprylic acid is also used as a treatment for skin disorders such as acne and dermatophilus congolensis. This is mainly due to its antibacterial and antifungal properties. This explains why coconut oil is commonly used as a remedy for various skin infections.
What is the right dosage of caprylic acid for seborrheic dermatitis?
Caprylic acid can be applied topically, either as an oil or in a cream form, directly to the affected area. It is also possible to take caprylic acid internally by consuming foods with tenure or by taking caprylic acid supplements.
The best food source of caprylic acid is coconut oil. As such, using coconut oil as your cooking oil may be a great way of ingesting more caprylic acid. You can also consume a tablespoon of raw coconut oil once a day. Other food sources include palm oil, peanut butter, and human breastmilk.
If the idea of consuming coconut oil doesn’t sound enticing to you, you can try caprylic acid supplements. In terms of dosage, because there is no nutritional requirement for the intake of caprylic acid, a standard dosage does not exist yet.
However, according to the American National Yeast Infection Organization, the recommended caprylic acid dosage sits between 1000mg – 2000mg of caprylic acid supplement per day. Caprylic acid supplements can be taken 3 times a day 30 minutes before your meal.
Other seborrheic dermatitis treatments: Coal tar vs salicylic acid
As far as treatments for seborrheic dermatitis go, coal tar and salicylic acid are the most common and most prescribed.
Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid used in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis due to its exfoliating, anti-inflammatory, and sebum-regulating properties. Coal tar, on the other hand, is a by-product of bituminous coal. It belongs to a class of agents called keratoplastic which when applied to the skin causes dry skin cells to shed and slows the growth of new sell. This is beneficial to a seborrheic-prone scalp that tends to be flaky with clumps of sebum accumulating on hair shafts.
When used in the treatment of dandruff, 2-3% salicylic acid-based shampoos can be prescribed. Coal tar, on the other hand, is less commonly used as it has notable side effects which include, increased sensitivity to the sun, scalp inflammation, hives or bumps, severe dizziness, and difficulties in breathing.
Caprylic acid vs coal tar vs salicylic acid: Which is better?
Caprylic acid has been found to be a very effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. It is natural and does not have the same side effects as coal tar or salicylic acid. For this reason, it is the preferred choice of treatment when it comes to seborrheic dermatitis.
It is also important to note that results may vary from person to person and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. If you find that caprylic acid is not working for you, it might be worth considering salicylic acid or coal tar as an alternative. It is also important to consult a physician before trying any of these treatments to ensure safety and effectiveness.