Treating Seborrheic Dermatitis with Raw Honey

Raw honey is believed to be an effective natural treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. However, not everyone reports success and results can vary.

This article examines::

  • How raw honey is commonly used for treatment
  • How it differs from regular honey
  • The preliminary research that highlights it’s potential
  • Reader submitted tips and suggestions

You can find additional discussion in the comments section at the bottom of this page and please let me know if you spot any mistakes in the writing.

What is raw honey

If you have never heard of “raw” honey, it is basically an all natural unheated and unfiltered honey. Raw honey is opaque and is typically solid at room temperature, while regular honey is quite clear and typically liquid.

The easiest way to tell the difference between regular honey and raw honey is to simply read the label. Most honey manufactures clearly label raw honey as it is gaining popularity as a health food. If you don’t see raw honey on the shelves alongside regular honey, make sure to check out the health food isle where it might be hiding.

So now that you know the difference between regular honey and raw honey, we’ll dive deeper into the methods that people have successfully used raw honey to treat seborrheic dermatitis.

Preliminary research study supporting raw honeys potential

In the study patients applied a raw honey and water mixture to the seborrheic dermatitis effected skin and left it on the skin for a 3 hours. This procedure was performed every second day for four weeks. At the end of the 4 week period patients who improved stuck to prophylactic once weekly applications for an additional 6 months.

For most of the improved patients who did not undergo this additional 6 months the seborrheic dermatitis quickly returned. While the patients who continued to use the raw honey experience complete clearance of their seborrheic dermatitis.

Alongside this study there are many people online who recommend using this raw honey approach.

The most difficult part of this is sitting with raw honey on you face for 3 hours every second day. The honey typically starts to warm up, melt and drip off of the skin. Resulting in quite a sticky situation. However, the results obtained from this treatment can typically outweigh any mess made.

One of the significant takeaways from the research paper that not many others have mentioned online was that the treatment had to continue for the additional period of 6 months in order to be truly effective. These 6 months together with the initial 4 weeks makes up a total of 38 treatments (totalling 114 hours). That is quite a bit of time to spend with raw honey on your face.

Raw honey treatment method from the study

Here is a general outline of the treatment used in the study. This is pretty much the exact method all people on forums and blogs recommend as well.

  • Combine 9 parts raw honey to 1 part filtered water
  • Mix thoroughly
  • Gently apply a thin layer of this mixture to all effected skin (try to cover your whole head if possible, including scalp)
  • Leave the mixture on the skin for 3 hours
  • Gently rinse the mixture of with lukewarm and let air dry

That’s it. The skin should now feel supple and refreshed. You might experience a slight tingling sensation as the pores adjust after the sticky honey.

A good time to do the treatment is evenings. Not only is it typically the only time you are home for +3 hours, but it also seems the skin continues to further repair and improve while you sleep.

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Five ways honey is used to treat seborrheic dermatitis

Now that you know the documented approach, you may also find the following user submitted variations useful. Additionally, my experience with each method is provided for your reference.

1. Raw honey facial masks

Raw honey facial masks are super simple yet slight inconvenient method to treat seborrheic dermatitis. The first time I came across this method I was looking through Google Scholar for natural treatment options for seborrheic dermatitis. In my research I came across this particular research paper that concluded that raw honey was a very effective treatment method for seborrheic dermatitis.

My experience using raw honey facial masks

In my experience this raw honey treatment was extremely effective. Even though 3 hours was quite a long time to devote to sitting around with raw honey, the results it gave me was worth it. After just the first application you can see how well this really works.

The raw honey melts and washes away the scales. The sugar in the honey pulls moisturise into the skin making it soft and supple. After the honey is washed off the skin feels refreshed and calm.

When attempting this treatment I went for about 2-3 weeks of continued applications. Then due to school and other events I had to miss a few days. After missing a few days the treatment seemed not to work as well. Sometimes the results would be as spectacular as initially other times the skin would stay red and inflamed. It’s as if the skin wasn’t sure what to do with the honey any more.

Ever since that break in the treatment I could never finish the full course outlined in the research paper. This is mainly due to the fact that the results have become inconsistent forcing me to attempt other solutions.

If I was to personally recommend treating seborrheic dermatitis with raw honey I would strongly underline the importance of sticking with it from beginning to end. Making sure that there are no interruptions during the 7 month period (4 weeks + 6 months).

2. Raw honey facial mask in combination with coconut oil

In addition to regular raw honey facial masks discussed above, many recommend following up with virgin coconut oil as a moisturiser. These individuals claim that the virgin coconut oil is essential to keeping the skin moisturised after the honey has been washed off.

However, I strongly disagree with this approach. Coconut oil is actually sometimes used in laboratory conditions to grow and culture the malassezia yeast (considered to be the main culprit behind seborrheic dermatitis). As a result the application of the coconut oil can actually adversely effect results obtain from the raw honey. Please also note that the coconut oil used in labs for yeast growth is probably not organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil, but its hard to be certain that their is such a huge difference.

3. Raw honey as a facial cleanser

This was another method I read about. It doesn’t control the seborrheic dermatitis nearly as well as the extended face masks, but is quite effective as an intermediary treatment.

To use raw honey as a facial cleanser simply mix 9 parts raw honey with 1 part water. The water will help the raw honey become more liquid and allow easier application. Once you have the mixture ready simply rub it between your hands and gently into the facial skin. If possible give it a few minutes to soak in and wash off with lukewarm water. Now simply let the face air dry and go on with your day.

My experience using raw honey as a cleanser

During the few days between treatments I would typically use raw honey as my regular facial cleanser when the face became sweaty from exercise. It was effective at removing the sweat and dirt yet very gentle and highly moisturizing.

Even long after I stopped using the raw honey face masks I continue to keep cleansing with raw honey. It was simply, quick and usually helped soothe seborrheic dermatitis. Or at the very least it wouldn’t anger the skin as regular soap or cleanser did.

4. Consuming raw honey to treat seborrheic dermatitis from Inside

Some people believe that the main reason why seborrheic dermatitis appears is purely internal (some type of infection). As a result there are people who claim that simply by consuming an adequate amount of raw honey (believed to contain anti fungal and antibacterial agents) you can rid yourself of the internal infection and the seborrheic dermatitis will go away on its own.

When I first read about this approach I was struck with joy. What if something so simple (unless you are allergic to honey) and so easy to do can truly get rid of my seborrheic dermatitis forever? Could it really be that simple?

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My experience with the internal approach

In the end this approach along with all of promised results was too good to be true. Even if I consumed several tablespoon of raw honey every single day (did this for about a month) no clear results were obtained. Even if I added propolis, royal jelly and pollen to the raw honey, still nothing. The seborrheic dermatitis seemed to be following its own schedule and the consumption of raw honey had absolutely zero effects.

Currently I do not really consume any honey. For me the taste of maple syrup is more enjoyable then honey. Also I never really enjoyed honey to begin. Don’t get me wrong the sweet taste of honey is quite pleasant, it is just not something I go out of my way to eat.

5. Raw honey mixed with propolis

As noted in the previous section some people add other bee products to the raw honey to make its healing power even stronger. The most common bee product to add to raw honey specifically for seborrheic dermatitis is propolis.

Propolis has been proven as quite a strong and effective anti fungal and antimicrobial agent. There are many studies outlining its superior natural ability to help fight local infection and many cultures have been using it for centuries.

As a result some people have attempted to add propolis to raw honey face masks or consume it on a daily basis. The theory is quite straightforward. The propolis will control and fight the yeast that causes seborrheic dermatitis and the seborrheic dermatitis will go away.

On paper and in theory it looks that propolis alongside raw honey could be the magic bullet. However, in practice the results aren’t quite clear.

Royal jelly and bee pollen can only be added topically. The are less potent as an antimicrobial than propolis,but much more nutrient packed. The only way I’ve heard people use royal jelly or bee pollen is internally in combination with honey. They are said to strengthen the immune system and help fight off infection. However, their results in relation to treating seborrheic dermatitis are unclear.

My experience with the combination of raw honey and propolis

Out of the three bee products mentioned above propolis was the only one that seemed to have some sort of effect on the seborrheic dermatitis. The first time I used it was together with raw honey and water in a face mask.

This combination worked about roughly identical to the raw honey alone. The addition of the propolis did not seem to improve the regular raw honey treatment.

When the regular raw honey seborrheic dermatitis treatment stopped working for me I kept attempting to use the propolis mixture as a super powered spot treatment for areas most affected by seborrheic dermatitis. My logic was the addition of propolis would make the treatment more potent and fight the dermatitis even when the honey alone was unable to. However, this was not really the case and at times the mixture would even further irritate the skin where it was applied.

There were also fairly long periods where I experimented with consuming propolis, royal jelly and bee pollen. Each on their own or even all combined with raw honey. During this time of experimentation I went through about 2 small bottles of propolis, one medium jar of royal jelly and another one of be pollen. In the end the results were unimpressive and I have since stopped consuming any of these three.

Overall I did not feel like the addition of any of these 3 bee products had any positive effects on the seborrheic dermatitis. The raw honey alone was the preferred choice for me.

Raw honey treatment summary and conclusion

List of benefits honey for skin and seborrheic dermatitis
The benefits of honey in skin care [1]

The overall benefits of using raw honey to treat seborrheic dermatitis are unquestionable. The limited research shows that this method has some real potential and my results confirmed the research.

Even though raw honey did stop working for me as an effective seborrheic dermatitis treatment I would still recommend it to any who has not given it a try. Before beginning I would make absolutely sure that skin does not have any adverse effects to raw honey. To test this you can simply dab a minimal amount of raw honey on some easy to cover up skin and observe for any adverse reactions.

If you do decide to attempt treating seborrheic dermatitis with raw honey I would highly advise you stay on schedule and stick with it for the full treatment program (4 weeks plus 6 months) outlined in the research study. If you have any questions or would like to share your results please leave a comment below.

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  1. Bruno Burlando, Laura Cornara "Honey in dermatology and skin care: a review." Journal of cosmetic dermatology 12.4 (2013): 306-13. PubMed
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About Michael Anders

After being affected by seborrheic dermatitis, I have made it my goal to gather and organize all the information that has helped me in my journey.