Seborrheic dermatitis, also known as dandruff, effects an astounding 5-10% of the American population alone. This article outlines 7 most essential seborrheic dermatitis shampoos currently available.

The list focuses on one seborrheic dermatitis shampoo per active ingredient. There are many other alternative shampoos currently on the market which use the same active ingredient in their products. The ones examined here are the most popular products for their respective ingredient.

This article will examine each one and briefly outline the ingredients that go into the shampoo. Additionally, my experience with each is provided.

In the end, I took a slightly different approach to getting my seborrheic dermatitis under control. The general details of my approach are provided towards the end of this article.

Update March 2016: Since the publishing of this post, I have been accumulating a lot of new research. Based on this I have created my own regimen which has been working well for me. This approach is discussed here: My Seborrheic Dermatitis Skin Regimen 2.0 (tons of useful information in the comments section of that post as well).

Line-up of 7 best seborrheic seborrheic shampoos discussed in this article
From left to right: T/Sal 3% Salicylic Acid Shampoo, Head & Shoulders 1% Pyrithion Zinc Shampoo, Paul Mitchels Tea Tree Oil Shampoo, Jasön Sulfur Shampoo, Nizoral A-D 1% Ketoconazole Shampoo, T/Gel Coal Tar Shampoo

Table of Contents

General Usage Advice for Using Anti-fungal Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Please know that each of these solutions appears to be effective only if left on the skin for the recommended amount of time (or more). For the anti-fungal properties of a shampoo to begin to take effect, the active ingredient must be left on the skin for enough time to do their job.

What is Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis is believed to be a chronic skin condition that affects roughly 3% of the population. When the condition affects the scalp, it is more commonly known as dandruff (believed to be a more mild form of seborrheic dermatitis with limited inflammation. though some disagreement exists).

The condition is characterized by dryness, patches of dry (often greasy) skin flakes, significant itching, and general irritation of the affected skin.

Though not universally accepted, the majority of literature on the subject concludes that seborrheic dermatitis is caused by the Malassezia fungus (1, 2). This fungus is present on the skin of healthy individuals as well, but for those of us unfortunate enough, the fungus is believed to be responsible for the seborrheic dermatitis symptoms we experience.

A thorough discussion of the condition is outside the scope of this article, but if you like to learn more about the condition, you refer to the seborrheic dermatitis owner’s manual. This is a publically accessible online eBook that documents my collective findings on the topic.

Accurate diagnosis is a critical component of successful treatment

In order for a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo to be effective, it’s important that your symptoms are indeed related to seborrheic dermatitis and not a visually similar skin condition (such as plaque psoriasis). Many individuals underestimate the importance of accurate diagnosis and spend effort trying to treat the wrong condition.

1. Head and Shoulders – Pyrithione Zinc Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Head and Shoulders Zinc Pyrithion Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis
Head & Shoulders - Classic Clean Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo

This is the single most popular shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis. In fact, it is so popular that people use it every day, even without seborrheic dermatitis or dandruff. Through effective marketing campaigns, simple product packaging, affordability, and effectiveness, it is has been able to become one of the top selling shampoos on the market.

Head and Shoulders (Procter & Gamble) has done or sponsored many studies on dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and scaling. They have pioneered much of the work relating to the the malassezia furfur yeast/fungus (which many researchers believe is responsible for seborrheic dermatitis).

The company and its research team, strongly believe this small skin yeast/fungus is the main culprit behind all seborrheic dermatitis problems. In turn they’ve developed an effective anti-fungal agent which kills malassezia yeast/fungus (along with many others). While doing little harm to the natural skin cells (as they say).

Is Head and Shoulders a Safe Shampoo

Proctor and Gamble (the owners of Head and Shoulders) have funded a vast amount of safety and toxicology studies to prove that Head and Shoulders is not harmful to the average consumer. Through these studies, they have been able to demonstrate that their shampoo is safe for external use by us humans. It’s safety is also demonstrated by the fact that is sold in a very large number of countries around the world (as many countries require their own safety testing).

There is one thing I did want to point out though. Zinc Pyrithione becomes highly dangerous at high concentrations (+20%) and has even been associated with DNA damage (3). This really scared me at first, but after further research I found that the concentration of practically any substance can significantly change the substances safety.

For example, sodium chloride (salt) diluted with water presents on danger of burning the skin. However, as you increase the concentration you increase the chance of irritation. In relation to salt, I’ve also written an article that summarises my experience using it to treat my seborrheic dermatitis.

How Well Does Head and Shoulders Work

In my experience, Head and Shoulders is highly effective and the results come within hours of first use. Itchiness subsides practically right away. Irritation and dermatitis start to die down, and redness subsides right after use.

Flakiness and dryness are the symptoms which only start to disappear after more frequent usage. In fact dryness was actually increased during use for me and was only aided by moisturizers and conditioners.

Key Takeaways

Head and Shoulder works amazingly well for seborrheic dermatitis. Its active ingredient, zinc pyrithione, is very effective for treatment of seborrheic dermatitis and has been demonstrated to be safe.

However, I’ve personally found several negative aspects to its long term usage. This include things such as pale skin, sun sensitivity, and dryness.

2. Neutrogena T/Gel – Coal Tar Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Neutrogena T Gel Coal Tar Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo Package Photo
Long-lasting relief of itching and flaking. Starts working after just one use.

Coal tar has a long history in medicine for its use in treatment of various skin conditions (4). Additionally, there are also many more natural alternatives such as pine tar and sulfonated shale oil (which I actually highly recommend, but did not include here because it’s almost impossible to find in a commercially available product).

These tar based products work mainly by slowing skin cell reproduction, normalizing the skins inflammatory response mechanism and killing off bacteria/fungus.

Why Tar Shampoos May Not Be As Popular

The main negative point associated with these products is the strong smell and their ability to easily stain clothes.

The first one regarding the smell is true, it was quite a strong smell, but once you get used to it, you actually start to enjoy it (at-least I enjoyed the pine tar soap).

The second point regarding the staining is not as true (at least it was not for me). Yes it is brown and obviously it will make things brown if you get it on fabric. However, in my experience a thorough wash was more than enough to quickly get it out.

Are Coal Tar Shampoos Safe

Neutrogena and other manufacturers have likely done their duty and conducted a fair amount of safety research (at-least I would hope they have). I would imagine safety research for a medicated shampoo would be a requirement before going to market.

The more natural tar alternatives have much less hard data and facts regarding their safety, but seem to have been tested by time. However, some research does claim that sulphonated oils have superior safety to tar preparations (5).

There are potentially concerns regarding the neurotoxicity and carcinogenic aspects of tars, however, to date there has not been a direct connection to threat in humans (6).

How Well Does Coal Tar Work

This was actually my favorite solution out of the commercial products I’ve tried. The ingredients list was much shorter than the Head and Shoulders one and it didn’t dry the skin as much.

Overall this was probably my second most used anti-fungal shampoo product. The only reason it is not number one on this list, is that I didn’t use it nearly as long or as much (as Head and Shoulders).

Knowing everything I know now, if I was faced with seborrheic dermatitis a coal tar based shampoo would likely be my anti-fungal shampoo of choice (from the ones outlined here). However, towards the end of my issues with seborrheic dermatitis, I used a sulphonated shale oil based shampoo. That shampoo is super hard to find, thus I have chosen to exclude it from the list. This is the shampoo on Amazon, but recent reviews suggest issues with the new formula (price is high as well).

Other tar products I’ve used, such as Grandpas Pine Tar soap have also been quite effective. They did dry the skin out more then the Neutrogena. But I actually thought the smell of those was much more natural and likeable (like a camp fire).

Neutrogena tried to mask their smell with strong perfume. What they ended up with smells somewhat strange to me, but I guess it makes it much more marketable to women.

Key Takeaways

Neutrogena T/Gel works well for seborrheic dermatitis. Its active ingredient, coal tar, is very effective at controlling seborrheic dermatitis and studies suggest it’s relatively safe. It has a fairly short ingredients list, is less drying then zinc pyrithione based products, smells strong, and is of natural origin.

3. Nizoral – Ketoconazole Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Nizoral A-D Ketoconazole Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo - New Packaging
Controls flaking, scaling, and itching.

This to me was the strongest anti-fungal shampoo I’ve ever tried for seborrheic dermatitis. When applied to the skin or hair, it felt like a nuclear bomb was just dropped and everything has been completely eradicated.

This stuff is honestly the strongest thing on this list and it also quite expensive.

It’s so strong that previously it was only available in the USA under a prescription. When used as a hair shampoo, it feels like your hair has just been turned into dead grass/straw. It nukes everything living good or bad and sucks the moisture out like nothing else I’ve used. Perhaps your experience may be different, but that was mine.

Due to how strong it was, I was only able to use this product twice. It just didn’t feel right. Yes it did eradicate redness, itchiness, flakiness, and all the bad stuff associated with seborrheic dermatitis. However, it also felt like it eradicated every single nutrient and skin cell in its way.

Are Ketoconazole Shampoos Safe

Based on all research papers I’ve read, Nizoral/Ketoconazole is completely safe if used according to the 2-3 times per week recommendations (7). However please note that the strength of the solution will play a big role in its safety. All the data I’ve looked at used a maximum concentration of 2% (which is the max you will find anywhere for sale anyway).

How Well Do Ketoconazole Shampoos Work

Th simple answer is yes it does work and it works fast. Using this stuff feels like brining a gun to a knife fight. It just seems to go over the top in its anti-fungal killing ability. Feel free to give it a try, but I couldn’t really recommend it because it seemed much too strong for me.

Studies do demonstrate that it’s almost as effective as hydro-cortisone cream though (8).

Another thing I found interesting, is that if you are losing hair in connection to your seborrheic dermatitis, Nizoral might be a very good and appealing option for you. Studies suggest that it can significantly improve hair growth in terms of both hair shaft thickness and overall hair density (9). Out of the all things they tested in one study it was the most effective thing (10). There are even reviews on Amazon of people using it to reverse/delay early balding.

Key Takeaways

Nizoral shampoo works extremely well for seborrheic dermatitis. Its active ingredient, ketoconazole, is very effective for seborrheic dermatitis and balding, however, its safety is a little bit more unclear.

It is a very drying shampoo, is quite expensive, used to be available only by prescription, increases hair growth, and is one of the strongest topical anti-fungal agents available over the counter.

4. Selsun Blue – Selenium Sulfide Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Selsun Blue - 1% Selenium Sulfide Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoo - New Packaging
Tough on dandruff... Great for hair. Targets the source to control dandruff.

To me this looked like one of the stranger products. It’s blue color and thick consistency make it look like slime from a kid’s move. There are many cases around the internet in which people swear by its effectiveness.

In truth, I’ve never tried the product so I do not really have my own opinion of it. The reason I didn’t try it is quite simple. By the time I learned about it, I was completely done with anti-fungal usage. Even then there were some times were I really wanted to give it a try, but didn’t. Additionally, the one thing that was always in the back of my mind, where it’s safety concerns.

Are Selenium Sulfide Shampoos Safe

Research has recently demonstrated its safety, however, there have been some inconclusive studies (11). The product is banned in Japan and in several countries around Europe. It is also considered a carcinogen by the EPA and state of California. However, this hasn’t stopped many people using it on a regular basis and swearing by its effectiveness (which is realistically the only reason I had to include it here).

How Well Do Sulfide Shampoos Work

Based on the results people online have been able to obtain, I’ve come to the conclusion that it is highly effective for seborrheic dermatitis. Clinical studies equate it to being as effective as ketocanazole based shampoos (12). Even potentially more so then the Head and Shoulders (pyrithione zinc) and T/Gel (coal tar).

It also appears to have less effect on the skins ability to tolerate the sun (which the others strongly affect). If you are reading this and have used Selsun Blue, share your knowledge with other readers in the comments below.

Key Takeaways

Selsun Blue works extremely well for seborrheic dermatitis. Its active ingredient, selenium sulfide, is very effective for seborrheic dermatitis. There are, however, significant safety concerns of prolonged use (13). Regardless of this, many people online swear by its effectiveness. Due to the fact that I’ve personally never used it I can’t really make any first hand observations.

5. Neutrogena T/Sal – Salicylic Acid Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Neutrogena T-Sal Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment
Clears and helps prevent flakes and scalp build-up

Here is another effective seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) shampoo form Neutrogena. It works by removing the dead skin and any yeast build up using a fairly strong acid.

Salicylic acid is of natural origin and is derived from the willow trees bark. Additionally, it is frequently used in many other skin care products as an effective solution for acne. At higher concentrations it is used to remove warts and corns (14).

When used for seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), it is extremely effective at removing the flakes (15). It leaves the skin feeling very tight and bright pink.

Specifically for me, it did not seem to have very lasting results. However, one of my favorite aspects of it were how mild it was.

Are Salicylic Acid Shampoos Safe

Salicylic acid seems to be one of the safer products listed here. Its popularity in a wide variety of applications has allowed for quiet an impressive amount of safety data to be gathered around it (16). Some people with very sensitive skin have been show to experience slight discomfort from its use (likely due to its highly acidic nature).

Do Salicylic Acid Shampoos Work

Yes and no. It seems to work very well when the seborrheic dermatitis is quite mild, however, as seborrheic dermatitis becomes worse, it does very little to help. This is likely due the infection getting deeper into the pores and salicylic acid’s fairly week anti-fungal properties (17).

Also from my latest and research, salicylic acid combined with sulphur seems to be a much more effective solution for seborrheic dermatitis, then salicylic acid on its own (18).

Key Takeaways

Neutrogena T/Sal works pretty well for mild seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff). Its active ingredient, salicylic acid, is quite effective for removing the flakes and scales caused by seborrheic dermatitis. However, for aggressive seborrheic dermatitis it is far too weak in combating the yeast/fungus deep in the skins pores.

6. Jason Natural Dandruff Relief – Sulfur Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Jason Dandruff Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis
Fortified with MSM, olive, rosemary oils & colloidal sulfur.

This goes hand in hand with the suggestion from the previous section. This shampoo takes both sulfur and salicylic acid and combines them into one single shampoo formula. The smell of this shampoo is quite off-putting and will make your hair smell like rotten eggs for a while. Which would obviously be worse if your hair is longer.

The sulfur and the salicylic acid act as a perfect team. One acts to effectively remove build up and scales, while the other does the dirty work and fights the yeast/fungus.

Are Sulfur Based Shampoo Safe

Both of the ingredients in the Jason shampoo (salicylic acid and sulphur) are of natural origin and have been used for centuries. They have strong safety data and I would consider them to be one of the safest products listed here (while still being extremely effective).

The only potential safety concern I have is the very bad smell. Which can be dangerous when going out, as it could detour people away from you.

How Well Do Sulfur Based Shampoos Work

They seem to work and actually quite wonderfully. In my experience, the results was on par with Head and Shoulders. The results obtained from this shampoo also appear to stay around for longer than any of the others listed here. There is a ton of praise for this shampoo on many of the different online retailers (the bad ratings are typically from people who either have not used it consistently enough or can’t stand the smell).

Please note, it does take a little longer than the others to start working. However, once you get things under control the maintenance schedule is much more slack.

Key Takeaways

Jason Natural Dandruff Relief works well for seborrheic dermatitis if used properly. It’s main active ingredient, sulphur, is effective for seborrheic dermatitis only if used according to the recommended schedule. The strong smell will likely detour many consumers, especially those with longer hair. The combination of salicylic acid and sulphur works in harmony and can produce amazing results.

7. Paul Mitchell – Tea Tree Oil Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis

Paul Mitchel Tea Tree Oil Shampoo for Seborrheic Dermatitis
Invigorating cleanser

This is another shampoo that has made the list which I’ve never used before. It has been included because many people claim that it works well for them.

I have, however, tried many other different tea tree solutions. However, for some reason they never really gave me the results I was after. Yes they did help with the scaling from the seborrheic dermatitis, but they never really helped with the redness or blotchiness (of the facial area). And I’ve even written a detailed overview of tea tree oil treatments for those seeking more information.

A product which I have tried from the same line, is their tea tree styling gel. Which, I believe did help reduce my dandruff a little bit. However, I do not think that it helped by fighting the dandruff, but by simply providing an alternative to regular styling wax which caused my scalp to become quite greasy.

Are Tea Tree Oil Shampoos Safe

Tea tree appears to be the oldest studied thing on this list (19). If you are considering this method because you are in search for a natural treatment option, be aware that Paul Mitchells shampoo does contain some negative ingredients. Which, people looking for a more natural approach generally stay away from (such as SLS and others). However, overall it much better than most other commercial shampoos.

How Well Do Tea Tree Oil Shampoos Work

Research studies evaluating the effectivness of tea tree oil shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis show good potential:

  • A lab study evaluating tea tree oil’s anti-fungal potenial against malassezia showed significant supression and noted tea tree oil may be “useful in the treatment of conditions involving M. furfur” (20).
  • A real-world single-blind study with 126 participants over the age of 14 years showed a 41% improvement rate (just under half of the people showed good progress). Though the scaliness component was noted to have the least imrpveoments, the study concluded that 5% tea tree oil is an “effective and well tolerated” treatment of dandruff (21).

The effectiveness of this particular shampoo for me remains unclear. I’ve read about people getting results, but after regular usage with similar products, I saw absolutely no change in my seborrheic dermatitis (nor better, not worse). The smell of the shampoo was very nice and the product did have a premium feel to it, which made usage more pleasant.

Key Takeaways

Solely based on my experience with with tea tree oil in general, I could not conclude that they are very effective for treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. However, there are studies which demonstrate its effectiveness (22). So, perhaps the concentrations in the shampoos I used were off.


All this effectiveness data and safety information is valuable when choosing a shampoo for treatment of seborrheic dermatitis, however one must not forget common sense.

First of all, each of the shampoos listed here depend on their specific active ingredient to be effective. The activate ingredient is typically a strong anti-fungal and anti-microbial agent. This sounds very good, but truth be told your skin has its own complex biologic system.

There are many other valuable micro-organisms that live on the skins surface. Many of which can also be the friendly bacteria that make up your natural skin flora. These friendly bacteria help to fight infection and disease cause by foreign invaders (pathogenic bacteria, yeast and fungus).

When you use a strong agent such as the zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole or any other anti-fungal, you unwilling kill of many of these beneficial bacteria. Some researchers are now making claims that prolonged usage can have a detrimental effect on the natural flora and cause many future issues (23).

Your Body’s Natural Defenses

This same effect is also seen in other areas of medicine, such as asthma, dysbiosis and other atopic conditions (24). What happens here, is the body’s natural defence mechanisms are damaged due to under stimulation (since you manually kill of the bad bacteria with external agents) and over sanitation. And as a results, over time, your skin/body becomes dependent on external agents to do its work for it.

Obviously, if you use these agents once in a while, you are unlikely to cause any long term damage. However, if you get in the habit of every day usage, imagine what will happen when you stop. How will your skin react to its new microbial filled world?

Truth be told, I used Head and Shoulders almost every day for several years. Not because I needed to, but because I did not know any better.

My Own Experience

Once I started experiencing seborrheic dermatitis on my facial skin I started doing research. This led me to finding a temporary solution of using Head and Shoulders directly on the facial skin.

My seborrheic dermatitis quickly receded and my skin returned to normal. After a few weeks of great results things quickly deteriorated and my skin became the worst is has ever been. It was constantly pale, dry, flaky, and red at the same time. I wanted answers, I wanted to know what was happening.

Looking back now I think the head and shoulders was not truly a solution, but actually played a significant role in developing the problem.

Then I decided to develop this site and find a more workable solution. After several months of fighting myself to not use anti-fungal shampoos, my seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff became markedly worse.

My scalp was constantly flaky, my skin very oily, and the skin yeast/fungus seemed to be enjoying life on my skin. Honestly this was one of the hardest periods of my life. As I would consistently enjoy staying indoors, just because I was embarrassed and ashamed of my appearance.

The Point of No Return

After about one and a half months in this horrible state, I decided to research other solutions. After trying a myriad of natural anti-fungal solutions I decided to take a different approach. The first step in my transition was the use of a more natural mild shampoo containing the sulphonated shale oil anti-fungal agent briefly described above.

My skin slowly began producing less oil, my scalp became less flaky and in my skin tone greatly improved. Another couple of weeks went by and this is when the most progress was seen. My scalp started to actually look normal, oil was no longer a problem, dandruff was practically gone, itching and redness subdued and seborrheic dermatitis was barely there.

Since the sulphonated shale oil shampoo was so hard to find and so expensive, I decided to revamp my approach once again. This time I went against all common recommendations and purchased a relatively natural highly moisturizing shampoo (here it is on Amazon). Haven’t looked back since. I’ve been using this shampoo for about a year now and my dandruff rarely bothers me. There have been a few odd times were it would return, but things never get out of control.

However, this is a slight over simplification of how things really went. My approach was a little more comprehensive then just switching a shampoo. It took several years of intensive research (using medical journals, textbooks and not online forums).

What I Do Now – Updated September 2016

For more then a year now I’ve been fortunate enough to get my skin under control. Here is a quick breakdown of what I’ve been doing:

  • Stopped using anti-fungal shampoos
  • Only wash my face with water
  • Follow up each face rinse with my own custom solution
  • Take shorter showers
  • Use the moisturizing shampoo described in the previous section

It literally took years to get to where I am now. And along the way, this website has become significant part of my daily life. Hopefully you can benefit from that work that goes into it.

Quick Overview of Other Variables

Another thing that I believe played a very significant role in helping get things under control was my fairly clean eating habits, glutamine supplementation and an H. Pylori diagnosis.

The H. Pylori was diagnosed by accident when a member of my family had issues with systemic acidity (thus the whole family got tested). I came back positive from the breath test and was prescribed antibiotics. Which, hopefully successfully got rid of it (follow up testing came back negative).


The moral of the story is please do some research and use common sense when using an anti-fungal shampoo for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff). Yes it might help visually and instantly, but what do you think its long term effects are.

Take the time and really learn about seborrheic dermatitis. Having a good understanding of your skin condition can be one of the biggest steps to long term recovery.

I strongly believe the best thing you can do right now, is to take the time to fully understand the condition. And a good place to start may be the comprehensive guide I’ve been working on for the past couple of years.

If going the shampoo route, the most popular shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff) appears to be Head & Shoulders. However, more natural ones have been gaining popularity in recent years.

For me, going with a more unorthodox approach seems to have paid off in the end. However, it seems that everyone is different and seborrheic dermatitis is a complex condition that the medical community still struggles fully understand.

How much do you think the companies selling the stuff benefit/profit from your ongoing problem? What else have you been doing to control your condition? I believe there are many factors which need be to considering when deciding to use an anti-fungal shampoo long-term.

If you have any experience with any of the seborrheic dermatitis shampoos described above or a different shampoo which worked for you, leave your feedback in the comments below.

This post is also available in: deDeutsch (German) esEspañol (Spanish)

Discover my current SD regimen (since August 2015) more info

About Michael A.

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.

Your Guide to Seborrheic Dermatitis

Your complete resource to everything I've learned about seborrheic dermatitis:

What causes seborrheic dermatitis

How to best treat seborrheic dermatitis

Are antifungal treatments the best approach

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49 Responses to “7 Essential Seborrheic Dermatitis Shampoos Reviewed”

  1. Anna-marie Profile Photo

    I would like to say sesun blue shampoo works but it made my head burn when I’d put it on not sure what caused this. I recently bought Jason and have used only once but did not have the burning.

  2. Wendy Profile Photo

    Why does my SD crank up at night? it wakes me up the itching is either so sharp or so strong. Is it my head creating a heat source with the pillow or does the M yeast prefer the dark .

  3. Bill Thorkelson Profile Photo
    Bill Thorkelson

    I’ve used just about all the shampoos, prescription and over the counter, mentioned in the article over the years, with mixed results. I finally read some testimonials about Selsun Blue shampoo, extolling the great results. I though this was hard to believe, as this shampoo has been around for many years, and I never heard that it was so effective for Seborrheic Dermatitis. I purchased a bottle and began to use it, with incredible results!!! My face has cleared up, as well as my scalp. I use it every three or four days to maintain the effect. I wish I had known about this treatment many years ago. I’m now 78 years old.

  4. Vera Pilecki Profile Photo
    Vera Pilecki

    I will buy head & shoulders today. What helped for your facial skin? I have the red spots by my nostrils, middle of my forehead and chin. I hate it. Thx for all your info!

  5. Edgar Chase Profile Photo
    Edgar Chase

    From the perspective of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the problem is not usually well treated from the exterior of the body. According to Chinese medicine, diet plays an important role in controlling seborrheic dermatitis. Foods that produce dampness and heat, such as spicy and greasy foods, sweets, and meats such as lamb, chicken, capon, duck, and shrimp, should be avoided during the course of treatment. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol should also be discontinued or limited. I know this is the hardest part, but will bring the greatest relief.
    If you have the opportunity to see a traditional Chinese medicine doctor, or acupuncturist, you may find help from a direction you did not expect. I hope this helps! We’re all in this together!

  6. judy h. Profile Photo
    judy h.

    Thr first 5 shampoos listed will turn one’s head of hair into a nasty, dried out, broken off mess. All of the ingredients in them are poison for the health of your hair. I have been through most of them and suffered the disastrous results. Please do more research, there are many organic shampoos and scalp treatments which will successfully treat your SD and leave you with your beautiful head of hair.

  7. tim Profile Photo

    The safety of these shampoos is a huge issue. The chemicals present, when applied to our skin, may be toxic or carcinogenic. Just because a company makes a product doesn’t mean that it is safe. Regarding the coal tar shampoo T-Gel, I can’t believe that the author would state thus: “Neutrogena and other manufacturers have likely done their duty and conducted a fair amount of safety research (at-least I would hope they have).” Right. Companies with a vested interest in selling us their product would never obfuscate or mislead the public, perform the minimal amount of research required to get a product on the shelf, or downright lie as to the safety of their product.

    My point: The descriptions in this list are nothing but one person’s personal experiences with a small dash of research. Use the advice herein with a grain of salt and be wary of the sections describing the safety of these chemical products.

  8. Susan Profile Photo

    Are you still using the Andalou organics shampoo? Recent reviews on Amazon say that the formulation has changed and it now contains more irritating ingredients. I am looking for a super sensitive zinc based shampoo. I have sebopsoriasis that reacts with almost everything that touches it. The only shampoos I can use currently are kerytol pso and body shop ginger scalp remedy. These shampoos don’t prevent the scalp condition from happening, just keep it at Bay. Still having scale buildup, pain and hair loss (breaking at root). Would love to not wash my hair but it gets greasy within one day and if I don’t wash, the build up/hair loss gets out of control.

  9. Khurram Profile Photo

    My dermatologist advised me Betnovate Lotion to apply on my scalp and it amazingly works within 24 to 48 hours. Also Advanton creame for skin. I never used shampoo for SD treatment.

    • jennifer singh Profile Photo
      jennifer singh


      how do u use the lotion? do you put it on before a hair wash or after? whats the process?

  10. Ananga Anthony Profile Photo
    Ananga Anthony

    I have serborrheic dermatitis.. Having been using alot of African medicines but not going off… Some of the medicines you listed are not on Ghana markets

  11. Tiffany Profile Photo

    I appreciate this write up. I was diagnosed with SD about 10 years ago. I had a huge white flaky patch in the back of my head that inched incessantly. I went to the dermatologist and they diagnosed it. I was prescribed Loprox shampoo and Olux foam which worked wonders but is too expensive. I’ve used Neutrogena T-Sal for years when it flares upeople but I have a very mild case that doesn’t require constant treatment. Today I purchasedon’t Dermarest shampoo as my scalp has been a little itchy lately. Hoping it works as well as Neutrogena but at a more reasonable price.

    Also, I’ve noticed my hair doesn’t grow as well on the side and or in the area of my head that gets the flare up. It has grown but it’s much slower and not as full.

    • John griffin Profile Photo
      John griffin

      I have had Dermitits for about two years. I have seen 3 M Ds& two allergy Dr. Never been told to use anything but a cortzone cream. It doesn’t work. The itchy rash has move down my neck and started down upper part of my arm. I use Prednsone for relief. I worry this is going to destroy my bones. I just ordered BIMO8 . I only found out about this last week. THANK YOU JOHN GRIFFIN

  12. P Gradwell Profile Photo
    P Gradwell

    I shall be trying Argan Oil shampoo and conditioner as nothing else, including Cortisone creams and cortisoneshampoo has helped.

  13. Emily Profile Photo

    So I’ve had this for a year now but it gets worst in the snowy winter months especially. I used up almost an entire bottle of Head and Shoulders but it literally did nothing for me. We then bought Nizorial and I thought it worked slightly but then I just realized it was super strong and intense because I scratch my hair every hour so I have irritated skin everywhere on my scalp. Now my husband helps me put tea tree oil on my scalp (it’s on my lower half which is weird), but I don’t think we’re making huge progress. It’s hard because I have curly hair and I’m not supposed to wash it every day because it’s bad for it. Do you suggest I just deal with it and wash it every day? Is that my problem? I have it in my ears too and I just can’t stop itching everywhere. I don’t know what to do.

    • Lyssa Profile Photo

      Hi Emily,
      Have tried tea tree oil too….just made it worse actually and saw more flakes than ever….they say tea tree oil can cause skin / scalp reactions….

  14. Sourav Profile Photo

    Your article is very well written.I want to know the frequency of using the ‘Andalou..’ shampoo? do i have to use it daily?

  15. Farah Profile Photo

    Hey, I’ve been experiencing SD for like 6-7 years. I just knew that I’ve been diagnosed with SD for like 6 months ago when i went to see a dermatologist. From the beginning i thought it was only a normal dandruff but then after a year and another year passes by it became worst. I got a very flaky, itchiness, redness around my scalp. Trust me I’ve been using a lot of anti-dandruff shampoos but nothing worked. I even used selsun blue but the effect wasn’t really good. When i did a research, I thought it was psoriasis or eczema but when i went to dermatologist he told my diagnosis was SD. So far he prescribed me with Pinetar shampoo, u-closone cream ( i have it on my face as well but just a mild) and cetrizine to reduce the itchiness. For the 3 months I’ve been using that products and i have to say it works but the problem is that it goes on and off i mean i only got this SD when some factors trigger me like stress, climate changes. I felt very frustrated because i want it to be resolve. Right now the only method i have to do is get rid of the trigger factors. Is there any suggestions that i could try other methods?I really hope it helps me very much.

  16. Simon Profile Photo

    I have been living with SD for quite a long time. It first started showing up when I was 12 years old ( 19 years before), my pillow used to be full of flakes, where ever I sit and touch my hair always leaves traces, itching and irritation …God!!! very bad experience. I tried anything which family and friends were recomdending applied egg yolk, ginger, aleo vera, lemon, orange peel, lot of types of grasses, a lot types of shampoos with anti dundruff written on them, you name it….. But one day in 2004 a friend of mine brough for me a shampoo named CLEAR. I can’t forget that day. It worked wonders for me. I washed with it the first time, it was itching to the extreme. The next wash itching was moderate and the skin irritation subsided. Third, fourth and so on. No irritation no dundraff at all. But that time the brand was new and their product was so effective in short time but this time its is a bit weaker I donno why( or may be I got used to it i cant figure out). That time i used to put a small amount on my hand and wash with it and faom it on my scalp and face wait like 3 mins and rinse. This time I have to put as it is thick on my face and and with little water on my scalp for 3 to 5 mins to be effective. 13 years I am using it as my regular hair shampoo and have never had any issues with it. It even made my hair more softer and better looking. I came up to this site to look for a long time and permanent solution for dundruff on my way I am also sharing my experience. Thanks

  17. Paul Profile Photo

    I wanted to comment on Selsun Blue. During college I broke out in sweat related Tinea (a fungus) on my sides and back. After research online and going through expensive prescription creams, I tried the Selsun Blue. Due to the color, I used to call it “Smurfing Myself”. I would put a thin layer over the effected area and sit shirtless for about 30 minutes, then wash it off in the shower. In about a week my Tinea was gone.

    Post college I decided to grow a beard and discovered I have dermatitis. Once again, I did some research, and found out that smurfing my face this time might be the answer. Sure enough, it works very well. I had to shave my beard to keep it at bay, but the Selsun Blue works wonders and I swear by it. I use the Selsun Blue on my face at night, shave in the morning after my shower, moisturize, and I’m good to go.

    I hope this helps!

  18. Mary Davidson Profile Photo
    Mary Davidson

    I have this condition on my scalp only (thank God!). I used Selsum Blue twice a week as instructed and it did wonders for me. My sensitivity also went away after a few uses and as long as I used it like that, I had no problems. Over the past six months or so, I stopped it because…I foolishly thought it was fine. But holy crow, my dandruff, the itching, and sensitivity are back with a vengeance! I also used Head & Shoulders for a while and I liked it too but it wasn’t as strong as Selsum Blue. Though I still use both for face wash once a week and my skin is super clear. I have a very sensitive body in terms of maintenance so to find two products that cheap that both work for me was a treasure. Now my Selsum is not working as well but I haven’t used it a while, which means the expiration date has passed. So both H&S and SB worked very well and I never noticed any long term effects from them; however, I now pay attention to the dates because they do actually matter. I use Clear conditioner and that helps soothe any of the itching. Great post! Very insightful.

  19. Rita Profile Photo

    Hey so I’m 13 I’ve been struggling with SD for two years now,
    I had it as a child and it went away for a while and it’s not back I’m assuming due to
    Puberty. I’ve been using sebcur t for the past few months as it has been prescribed by my dermatologist and it seems to have really worked but it’s only perscribed to be used 2-3 times a week and then gradually use it less and less. I’m unaware of what to use in between cause I’m only using that shampoo 2-3 time per week and soaking my head in Dead Sea salt to dry the scalp. I need a gentle refractive shampoo to use in between do u know of any??

  20. C.R. Kleinman Profile Photo
    C.R. Kleinman

    Shortly after we were married, my husband developed an awful case of seborrheic dermatitis, and even the prescription shampoos did little to abate the mess. His scalp was oily, smelly and the flakes came off in huge greasy patches. I remembered having something similar as a child and my grandmother using apple cider vinegar directly on my scalp and thoroughly coming off as much of the scaling as she could. She then took a bar of coal tar soap, scrubbed my scalp and hair and then took a huge glop of mayonnaise, worked it into my hair and covered it with a hot towel. After about 30 minutes, she rinsed out all the mayonnaise and let my hair air dry. She did this three times in total over the span of a month and I had no more flakes, no more itching ever again.

    I did this regimen to my husband and it kept the whole mess away for over 7 years. Then, he developed chronic asthma from a moldy duplex we were living in and I had to go thru the whole procedure again.

    Unfortunately, when he has to take certain asthma meds, the gnasty mess comes back – but so far using organic apple cider vinegar, coal tar shampoo and a good hot oil treatment afterwards seems to do the trick. I honestly believe that the apple cider vinegar is the keystone to controlling the fungus. You might smell like a salad for a bit, but it’s worth it not to have the greasy flakes gracing your wardrobe!

    • Kendell Profile Photo

      Can you clarify please: was coal tar shampoo or bar of coal tar soap what you used?

  21. Monica Profile Photo

    Thank you so much for writing this! I thought I was going to go crazy trying to figure out what kind of shampoo to use to get rid of this mess on my scalp, but I found your review and it definitely saved me a huge headache! It also makes me feel better knowing that I am not the only one who has to deal with seborrheic dermatitis. It’s made me feel so insecure lately, but thanks to your review, I feel less alone, less embarrassed, and know what to look for when I go to the store!

  22. Abhishek K Profile Photo
    Abhishek K

    I recently knew that I have Seborrhic Dramatics on my scalp. I was using “f-biwash+” shampoo( with Apple Cider Vinegar for about a year.

    Apple Cider Vinegar may have reduced my red spot but I found that my scalp is not improving. There is still lots dandruff in the roots of my hair, which cause lot hair fall.

    I also used Head and Shoulders Anti-hair fall shampoo (Zink Pirithione Shampoo) for about a week. But that does not seem to work well. After using this shampoo, there is always a soft white layer of wet dandruff on my whole scalp. If I try to remove them ,then there is lots of hair fall.

    Which of these Shampoos will be best for me?

    Should I use

    I don’t want to use “f-biwash” anymore. It is totally waste of money !!

    • Nancy Profile Photo

      I have the same problem the white layer that looks like dead skin and if a rubbed it my hair comes off so easily and my hair is falling a lot for more that a year. Have you doing now ? Are you getting better ?

  23. this must be sponsored Profile Photo
    this must be sponsored

    head and shoulders does NOT WORK AT ALL, actually makes the problem worse
    this must be seriously sponsored

  24. Frances Profile Photo

    Hi everyone. My scalp is literally a snow storm and itchy with dried lumps of skin, that come away when picked. Sometime these very itchy bits then break and become sore. I’ve tried so many shampoos from my GP over the last year and nothing has cleared it. I’ve turned to pure organic products,containing burdock and Neem, for irritated scalps…no improvement. I’ve soaked my head in cider vinegar, which took the redness away from my hair line, and rubbed tea tree oil in. Nothing has touched the snow storm . I’ve noted various other shampoos that have been mentioned, and if I can purchase them , I’ll try them. Coal tar made my scalp go mental!! I’m into natural products where possible, but my scalp is now just getting me down. Nice page here though exchanging ideas. Thank you.

  25. Robin Leonard Profile Photo
    Robin Leonard

    I used Neutregena T-gel every time I washed my hair for a number of years and suspect that it caused ongoing hairloss for me. I stopped using it and with each passing month my hair grew back to its normal fullness.

  26. Sms Profile Photo

    Thanks michel for this review its realy helped , im newly diagnosed with SD and i use triderma shampoo containing salicylic acid its just work for one day doesnt help so much , i just wonder about the safest product in pre pregnancy and during preg and breast feeding???

    • Michael A. Profile Photo
      Michael A.

      HI SMS,

      Thanks for the positive feedback. And sorry to hear about your results with that shampoo.
      A more natural approach is likely best in this situation. My current regimen (My Seborrheic Dermatitis Skin Regimen 2.0) uses all natural fatty acids to control my facial seborrheic dermatitis and some people use it with great results on their scalp as well.
      Personally, simply using this shampoo: Andalou Naturals Moisture Rich Shampoo, seemed to clear by scalp issues.

      A medicated shampoo you may want to consider is this: Kertyol P.S.O.
      It uses a supposedly more natural alternative to coal tar and is considered to have a better safety profile (and is much more popular in Europe).

      Hope that helps and look forward to any updates.

      • Jessica Sanford Profile Photo
        Jessica Sanford

        The kerytol psi site doesn’t work right. It cuts off parts of sentences and switches to other products when you’re trying to read. Too messed up to bother with. 🙁

  27. Vic Profile Photo

    After first use of Nizoral, the seborrhea has increase and itching has increased 2 times it was before.

    Is this normal. Should I continue using it.

    • Michael A. Profile Photo
      Michael A.

      Hi Vic,

      This isn’t normal and it seems your skin isn’t agreeing with it.
      Personally, I would stop usage and attempt something else.

      Let me know if you have any updates.
      Best of luck!

  28. Tuan Profile Photo

    Hi, I have just recently found out that I have seb derm, never knew until then. But only on my scalp, but problem now is hairloss. I used to have tons of hair but now they become thinner and thinner , and I think it’s due to seb derm . Now I use selsun once a week and Head&shoulder Classic Clean daily, to keep my hair away from flakes. I just wonder, do you and the others, who also have seb derm, have the same issue like me ?
    Best regards!!

    • Michael A. Profile Photo
      Michael A.

      Hi Tuan,

      In the majority of the research I’ve came across, hair loss typically accompanies seborrheic dermatitis. This is because the malassezia fungus likes to invade the hair follicules and this can get in the way of healthy hair growth. The second edition of Seborrheic Dermatitis – The Owners ManualeBook will contain a section devoted to explained the hair loss associated with SD and potential ways to resolve the issue.

      Overall though, once the seborrheic dermatitis is controlled, hair loss usually returns to normal. Both Ketoconazole (Nizoral) and Pyrithione Zinc (Head and Shoulders) have been shown to help improve hair growth in a significant number of studies. Some individuals who have issues solely with hair loss even use Ketoconazole.

      Hope that helps.
      All the best!

    • Nancy Profile Photo

      Reading your story it sounds like mine exactly the same , have you found anything that has help you with the hair loss ? I will be so happy to hear from you .

      • Cynthia Profile Photo

        I lost all my hair a few years back due to the worst case of SB. The only thing that grew my hair back (After extensive treatment of the SB which took about 2 months) was JAMAICAN BLACK CASTOR OIL. Cheap and saved my hairline!

  29. Jack Profile Photo

    Fantastic write up. I have red sores on my scalp for the last few years and switched from head and shoulders when I learned about the nasty ingredients used. I tried Jasons shampoo which definitely helped a little but then I found Reviive Organics, not sure if you have heard of them but my sores on my scalp have completely gone. I no longer need to wash my hair every single day and would recommend for you to do a writeup on this also !

    • Michael A. Profile Photo
      Michael A.

      Hi Jack,

      Thanks for the feedback and your input. Took a quick look at the Reviive products and they seem fairly good. But I believe they are priced way to high. There are many other natural/organic products on the market with very similar ingredients that are much cheaper. The ingredients used for both their shampoo and conditioner are fairly standard among the natural product offerings from other companies.

      All the best.

    • Patricia Profile Photo

      Jack, I am interested in your complaint of noticing red sores on your scalp after using Head and Shoulders. While, out of all if the med shampoos I have used, the zinc pirythione seems to be the one med that actually impacts my seb term (temporarily) , I too often notice sores on my scalp…i figured it may be due to the heavy sudsing ingredients….are you aware of a particular ingredient in H and S that causes these sores? I am looking into other ways to use zinc pyrithicone on my scalp besides H and S

  30. GC Profile Photo

    In my opinion the Holy Grail of medicall shampoos for very bad breakouts is: Kertyol by Ducray, this was prescribed by a dermatologist when I had an extremely horrible breakout of SD (my head was full of wounds and dry flakes, and my hair was falling in patches from the worst affected areas).

    I used this one
    It worked like magic, so from a head full of scales and wounds, to an extremely happy clear skin that felt great, my hair had a nice herbal smell and the overall feeling was amazing. After few weeks the skin normalized so I was able to switch back to a normal Zink Pirithione shampoo for maintenance (head and shoulders or Syoss).
    I would have liked to continue with Kertyol but it was too expensive for me for long term use.

    Warning: There are many types of Ducray products for different types of SD or for Psoriazis, so it is good if a doctor is familiar with it and will prescribe it according to your condition. Or do your research first

    Selenium Sulfide Shampoos are also effective for me, but it took a long time to become effective_ 2-3 weeks until clearing up 100% of the dandruff.

    Zink pirithione shampoos as Syoss or Head and Shoulders are effective from first uses but only for long term maintenance, not for treating a breakout. If you have a horrible breakout, these might not cut it, you might need a strong medical one like Kertyol for a while.

    Nizoral is one of the worst ones, don’t try it, waste of money. It clears the skin but the skin does not feel good afterwards, Also it is only working for a very short amount of time, and then the problem is back in full force. My doctor said that he would not recommend it because it looses effectiveness very quickly and patients usually don’t like it.

    • Michael A. Profile Photo
      Michael A.

      Hi GC,

      Thanks for the update. Look’s interesting, but it seems like it has very limited availability. Have been actually quite interested in the active ingredient in this (which appears to be a combination of ichthyol and crotamiton.

      Itchyol has quite a good track record and is similar to coal tar, but a more natural version. It is also known as sulfonated shale oil. Unfortunately it’s availability in the North American market is fairly limited and I believe this is due to some issues with FDA approval. However, I strongly believe that this is a much better and safer alternative to coal tar (based on all the research that I’ve seen). Personally, I think it’s simply not being allowed on to the market due to competitor interests. Regardless, I was able to get pure itchyol from a personal friend in Russia. It worked very well at getting rid of the seborrheic dermatitis, but I wasn’t quite able to find a way to integrate it into a easy to follow routine (it’s basically a tar -> stick, black, and smells like resin).

      The one shampoo I did find that contained itchyol was this one:
      Morrocco Method Pine Shale Shampoo
      Worked well for me. However, it was really expensive and went bad before I could finish the bottle.

      Completely agree regarding the other points. Except, personally I never attempted any selenium sulfide products, at this time I had already found that natural products can be just as effective.

      Thanks again for the detailed comment and adding on to the discussion.
      All the best.

      • GC Profile Photo

        Hi , I am pretty sure it did not contain Itchyol, that ingredient is only in their shampoos for Psoriazis.
        The shampoo that I used in the past is now called Squanorm, but I am not sure if they changed the recipe.

        Now I am using a new one called Kelual DS for Seborrheic Dermatitis which is quite expensive but really effective.

        I also started to use the Kelual DS cream ( for face and ears combined with Biom8.
        The combination is really good: Kelual DS cream stops the flaking but sometimes the itchiness comes back, and Biom8 reduces the itchiness and increases the effectiveness of the treatment. I am not cured completely but my skin looks and feels quite normal when I apply this combination.

        • Michael A. Profile Photo
          Michael A.

          Hi GC,

          Thanks for the response. Will look into these in more detail and potentially add them into the main post as well.
          How exactly have you been combining the two? Would be interesting to hear. Potentially, a good idea would be for me to add a section to the Biom8 website for users to provide details on their own unique approaches to using it (get some pretty creative ideas through email). Also, have you attempted solely Biom8 usage?

          Thanks again and best of luck!
          Hope things continue indefinitely.

  31. john Profile Photo

    I am a bit confused. You state at the end how none of these shampoos helped you but you dont mention that till the end. And you also dont mention what helped you during the two month period when you just stayed at home. Was it the honey treatment?

    • Michael A. Profile Photo
      Michael A.

      Hi John,
      Sorry for the confusion. The shampoos did help greatly in controlling my seborrheic dermatitis, but my skin seemed to become overly dependent on it. Additional most of them made my skin overly sensitive (particularly to UV rays). Neutrogena Coal tar was probably my favourite as it seemed to be a little more gentle.

      The two month period was when I abruptly stopped using all anti dandruff shampoos and solutions. For about a month I tried not doing anything at all, but found skin quite oily after exercise. Then I started my own regimen and its been quite effective ever since.

      The honey was very good as well. But, its quite a time consuming treatment though. Also it lost some effectiveness over time, but this was probably due to my laziness and lack of consistency.

      Hope that helps. Best of luck.

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