The Best Shampoos for Seborrheic Dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis is a common skin condition that mainly affects your scalp, but can also affect other oily parts of the body, including your face and chest. It results in an itchy rash with flaky scales. It can occur in infants, and adults, and can be tricky to manage. If you’re finding that seborrheic dermatitis is interfering with your day-to-day life, read on to find out the best ways you can manage this condition.
What Causes Seborrheic Dermatitis?
The exact cause of seborrheic dermatitis is unknown but is thought to be a combination of hormonal changes, infection, and inflammation. Malassezia yeast (fungus) is linked with seborrheic dermatitis, and it is thought that this fungus activates an immune response, leading to inflammation and, eventually, to flares of symptoms. Many treatments are directed at targeting this fungus to address the root cause.
Seborrheic dermatitis tends to present in individuals with oily skin, a family history of dermatitis, immunosuppression, some neurological or psychiatric conditions, including Parkinson’s and down syndrome, lack of sleep, and stressful events.
How Is It Diagnosed?
Dermatitis is diagnosed based on the appearance, location, and behavior of lesions. Your doctor may also take a small piece of your skin (biopsy) for study in a lab. See your doctor if you think you may have seborrheic dermatitis to see what treatment options are available for you.
How Is It Treated?
A key factor in treatment is education, helping you to understand the steps you can take within your skincare routine to help minimize the symptoms. Lifestyle alterations may be recommended, for example making changes to your diet, as some foods can provoke dermatitis. This may entail diets that minimize or eliminate yeast-containing foods, including breads, cheeses, wine, beer, and excessive carbohydrates. In adults, the condition is commonly chronic.
Your treatment may involve a special shampoo that is medicated or one that controls inflammation.
- Antifungal gels or creams: Applying creams to the skin is generally the first-line treatment option for seborrheic dermatitis.
- Antiinflammatory creams or lotions: Your doctor may give you a corticosteroid to help with your treatment. However, these are only to be used until symptoms clear up, as they may result in unwanted side effects if used for longer.
- Antifungal medication: This will likely be taken as a pill and is often prescribed when other treatments haven’t been working, or in the case of more severe dermatitis.
It is not uncommon to lose some self-confidence when experiencing seborrheic dermatitis. Of course, appearance plays a large role in how we see ourselves, and it can be particularly hard if dermatitis is localized on your face. This means that alongside starting a treatment routine, it’s important to look out for yourself in other ways too. Meeting all of your needs—physical and mental, spending time with people you love, and continuing to participate in things you enjoy.
What Ingredients Should I Be Looking Out For?
It may take time to determine which shampoo your body reacts best with. We have outlined some ingredients so you can understand their role and trial which formula works best for you.
- Ketoconazole: Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication used to treat skin infections caused by a fungus (yeast). It is generally used to treat certain types of dandruff, dermatitis, and athlete’s foot. Ketoconazole-based shampoos are generally recommended to be applied twice a week for two to four weeks.
- Selenium sulfide: Selenium sulfide is an anti-infective agent that relieves flaking and itching of the scalp. It is generally recommended to be applied twice a week for two weeks, then once a week.
- Pyrithione zinc: Pyrithione zinc has both antifungal and antibacterial properties, used for treating both seborrheic dermatitis and dermatitis.
- Sulfur: Sulfur can be found within shampoos or administered separately, and works as an anti-infective. It can be used in combination with salicylic acid.
- Tar: While tar is not something you might expect to find in your shampoo, it can work wonders and is included in some of the best shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis. It treats the itching, scaling, and flaking by helping the skin to shed its outer layer of dead skin cells and slowing the overall growth of skin cells.
The downside of some options is that they can result in excessive drying of the scalp. This means that most medicated options are recommended to be used around twice per week, so you can alternate with normal shampoo to keep your hair looking well-nourished!
1. Blu Atlas Shampoo
Blu Atlas came onto the scene in early 2022, and since then, no one has been able to stop talking about them. It’s no wonder that they quickly became world leaders in the world of personal care, given their strong attention to detail and expertly crafted products.
They have created a powerful range of unisex products that cater to your needs.
With science-backed ingredients, you can rest assured that you will get results—products that work and are good for you and the planet. Saw palmetto counters DHT, a hormone known to promote hair loss. It also possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera is another star ingredient that is great for dermatitis. Aloe is a natural moisturizer with anti-bacterial properties, which can prevent complications of dermatitis. Jojoba oil is great if you have dry skin, given its strong hydrating benefits and hair-strengthening effects.
2. Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
This powerful formula prevents fungus growth while relieving symptoms of itchiness and flaking.
This clinically proven formula has antifungal action to address the potential underlying cause of seborrheic dermatitis. It’s only required for you to use it twice a week, making it easy to add to your routine. It also comes at an affordable cost and offers a refreshing scent making it a perfect option.
Users claim that they see results even after one use of this shampoo, and they love that Nizoral gets to the root of the problem by targeting the fungus that may be causing or worsening your flaky scalp. It’s also received glowing reviews among people who’ve had more stubborn cases of dandruff or dermatitis, making it a great option if you’re finding that alternatives have failed.
3. Selsun Blue: Anti-dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner
Selsun Blue is another highly regarded brand used to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. It is a selenium sulfide option, and you may want to talk to your doctor before trying to ensure it’s the right one for you. Your doctor may have advice about potential drug interactions when using Selsun Blue. Selenium sulfide is an anti-infective agent that reduces itching, redness, irritation, and scalp flaking.
Initially, you should use this shampoo around twice a week, then lower your usage as symptoms improve. Better yet, this product is a combined shampoo and conditioner, so you can get the best of both worlds at an affordable cost.
Users love it for its quick-acting results, even for people who have been struggling with more severe issues with their scalps. In addition, it still leaves their hair looking healthy and nourished after use, unlike some other products that can excessively dry out the scalp.
4. Roycederm Seborrheic dermatitis
With thousands of 5-star reviews, this shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis is one you don’t want to miss. It’s built for seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis and relies on a powerful herb blend to target your symptoms. If you’re reluctant to use any strong chemicals and want to keep things natural, this brand has perfected its all-natural approach without holding back on results. Snake jasmine has powerful anti-fungal effects, combined with sweet viola for its delicious scent and strong moisturizing effects. Cruelty-free, paraben free, and a 100% natural approach make Roycederm’s seborrheic dermatitis shampoo stand out from the crowd.
They recommend wetting your hair, massaging this shampoo into the scalp, and leaving it for three to five minutes before rinsing out to get the best results. Users have described this shampoo as a “miracle in a jar” for its quick-acting soothing effects on the scalp.
5. 2% Zinc Pyrithione Soap
Pyrithione zinc has antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antifungal properties that combine to fight against seborrheic dermatitis.
Because this comes as a soap, it can be used on the face and in your hair, so you can address your symptoms in one go. Massage into the skin for at least thirty seconds before rinsing off for the best results.
Some consumers experience drying of the skin when they first use this shampoo, so it’s best to start with one use to see how your skin reacts, then gradually add this to your daily routine. Some people are allergic to zinc pyrithione, so check in with your doctor before starting to use this soap. If you’re more prone to sensitive skin, they also have a 1% zinc option to try out too.
In addition to regulating and relieving symptoms of an itchy, red scalp, this soap bar can help to regulate oil production and promote hair growth, boosting the overall health of your scalp. Shampoo soaps are a great option as they save on water, and use more potent ingredients, making them last longer. They also save on the plastic, making them a better environmental choice.
6. Paula’s choice: Skin Perfecting 2% BHA liquid
Suitable for mild to moderate dermatitis, this shampoo nourishes and hydrates the scalp. Tea tree and peppermint oil deliver invigorating scents and deeply moisturize.
They are also climate-pledge friendly, highlighting that they are committed to helping to preserve the natural world, including using sustainable energy and natural preservatives.
They opt for exotic and rare ingredients from around the world to strengthen and nourish your hair. Their natural ingredients are aimed at improving your hair in the long run. While it’s on the more expensive side of the products on this list, you’ll be glad you spent the extra money on their exotic ingredients and premium essential oils.
Users love it as it helps with other scalp problems, including hair loss and scalp itching, and it gives their hair some extra volume.
7. Keralyt 5 Shampoo
Using salicylic acid, this shampoo shows strong exfoliating powers to remove roughness, resulting in a clear and smooth scalp. Salicylic acid softens keratin, a protein that forms part of the skin structure. This results in the loosening of dry, scaly skin, making it easier to remove.
The directions for use depend on whether you are using this shampoo as a scalp treatment, or as part of a medicated shampoo. For scalp treatment, apply it directly to the affected parts of your scalp, leaving it on for 5 minutes or longer. If you are using the shampoo as a medicated shampoo, you should first wet your hair, and then apply the shampoo directly to your scalp, massaging vigorously for a few minutes.
8. Vanicream Dandruff shampoo
This zinc pyrithione shampoo is great for keeping the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis at bay. It targets the irritation, redness, itchiness, flaking, and scaling in one go. It’s free of sulfates, gluten, parabens, and fragrances, making it a perfect option if you have more sensitive skin. Vanicream also offers a medicated cleansing bar, and a conditioner, to complete your shower routine.
Buyers love it for its fragrance-free formula, as fragrances can be a source of irritation. Some users found huge improvements just from one wash, and it performs well on curly or thick hair.
Vanicream was founded by two pharmacists working in a hospital, who didn’t dream of manufacturing. Hearing from dermatologists about the need of their patients, they decided to create a new and improved formula that was aimed at sensitive skin, which is now distributed in the US and around the globe.
9. Erha: Erhair Scalperfect Piroctone Olamine & Climbazole Shampoo
This Indonesian-based brand has become highly regarded for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis and other conditions affecting the scalp. Piroctone Olamine is great for reducing hair loss and has antifungal properties to target the cause of seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Climbazole also has antifungal properties, allowing these two products to work together to work hard against seborrheic dermatitis.
Lavender oil, green tea extract, and aloe vera enhance the nourishing properties of this shampoo (not to mention they are responsible for its delicious scent!).
10. Petal Fresh: Scalp treatment shampoo
It’s pH-balanced, vegan, and sustainably sourced—making this shampoo a responsible choice for your hair and the planet. They have a wide variety of fragrances to choose from, including aloe & citrus, lavender, pomegranate & acai, and tea tree. Infused with essential oils, you can expect your hair nourishment and refreshing scent to last all day long.
This Australian-based brand loves the long-lasting Aboriginal legends of tea tree oil, hailed for its healing benefits. It’s seen as a magic ingredient with versatile benefits. For your hair, tea tree oil acts as a natural exfoliant and moisturizer all in one. Tea tree oil works for some people with seborrheic dermatitis, so you may want to give this a try if your symptoms are less severe or you’d prefer to stick with a more natural approach.
People love it for its great smell, great packaging size, and the ability of this shampoo to unclog your scalp and allow it to breathe. If it doesn’t work for your seborrheic dermatitis, it is also a great option for use in between your medicinal shampoo.
11. Healthy Hair Plus Antifungal Shampoo
This hugely effective shampoo uses emu oil for its natural anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Jojoba oil balances oil production, while coconut oil is great for its antibacterial properties and moisturizing action. Grapefruit seed extract also aids in the promotion of healthy hair growth. While this shampoo doesn’t contain active ingredients (such as ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc, or selenium sulfide), some users still find it hugely effective. So, if you have more mild symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, it may be worth giving this a try rather than going straight for medical shampoos.
Users have described this shampoo as “working wonders” on their hair and recommend buying their condition too to get the full treatment package.
12. Dermazole plus
Ketoconazole and zinc pyrithione are responsible for the powerful effects of this shampoo. It is recommended to apply for around three to five minutes.
Users love it for how quickly it works, allowing you to quickly regain your confidence. It’s also relatively affordable as you only need to use a small amount at a time, allowing it to last much longer.
13. Regenepure DR Hair Loss Shampoo: For Hair Growth and Scalp Treatment
While Regenepure is formulated around preventing hair loss, it contains all the right ingredients to promote healthy hair overall. Regenepure contains ketoconazole, a key ingredient for fighting against the root cause of seborrheic dermatitis.
With vitamin B3, you’ll notice the difference in your hair’s moisture. Vitamin B3 protects the skin barrier, helping to reduce dryness and improve scalp moisture to help with dandruff. It also boosts hair growth! This shampoo is suitable for all hair types, whether you have more oily, dry, combination, or average hair. Jojoba oil maintains your scalp’s oil balance, working alongside emu oil.
14. Sent From Earth Caffeine & Saw Palmetto Peppermint Shampoo
Before you look at the price tag—read on to find out the secret ingredients responsible for the success of this shampoo. Your scalp is its own ecosystem, needing all the right nutrients to grow and thrive. This shampoo is packed with ketoconazole for your seborrheic dermatitis, caffeine, and saw palmetto to promote hair growth, and wheat protein for added shine and volume. They’re also packed with a fine selection of vitamins, including vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and zinc, to boost moisture retention and overall scalp health.
Users describe this shampoo as being “sent from heaven,” offering the 1% ketoconazole found in many medicated shampoos, yet also providing a balanced approach with natural, nourishing ingredients. Sent From Earth’s products are cruelty-free, born and bred in the USA, and use only natural ingredients. Topped off with an invigorating peppermint scent, this earthy shampoo has all the answers.
15. Hair Restoration Laboratories: Professional Strength DHT-Blocking Hair Restore Shampoo
Last but not least, we have this powerful hair restoration shampoo built for men and women. Like many other formulas on this list, this shampoo contains ketoconazole to deliver antifungal effects to your seborrheic dermatitis.
Antioxidants, essential oils, amino acids, and plant extracts combine to strengthen hair and brighten its overall appearance. DHT is a hormone involved in hair loss that interferes with the hair growth cycle, making it easier for hair to fall out, and more difficult for hair to grow back. Blocking DHT can enable long-lasting improvements in hair growth and hair retention. This brand has also been thinking outside the box, incorporating ingredients such as pea extract, bark extract, and black seed oil for their unique antioxidant and hair-strengthening effects.
If you’re willing to spend the extra money, this shampoo is worth it for its all-around treatment to your hair so you can look and feel confident!
Frequently Asked Questions
Is seborrheic dermatitis the same as psoriasis?
While these two conditions share many of the same symptoms, it’s important to recognize the difference as they may have different treatment recommendations. Both can cause patches of red, flaky skin, although seborrheic dermatitis tends to be restricted to the scalp.
The scales of psoriasis tend to be thicker with clearer edges, appearing on the knees, scalp, elbows, and trunk. In psoriasis, skin cells don’t regulate correctly and instead multiply up to ten times faster than normal. It is rare to have both of these skin conditions at the same time.
Treatment for seborrheic dermatitis can involve shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis, or oral medication in severe cases. Psoriasis tends to be treated with steroid creams, which reduce inflammation and the production of skin cells and itching. An alternative therapy if steroids don’t work is phototherapy, which uses ultraviolet light to reduce inflammation and skin cell production. If you’re unsure about your symptoms and which condition you might have, talk to your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and follow the best treatment protocol.
Are there any natural remedies that work?
You might want to try some natural, at-home remedies to use alongside a prescription shampoo to experiment with what your hair responds best to.
Apple cider vinegar: ACV is one of the most popular options for treating seborrheic dermatitis at home. ACV has strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties and may have additional antifungal properties. ACV hasn’t been extensively studied as a treatment option, but anecdotal evidence has highlighted its potential benefits, so you may want to try it.
To use ACV, mix five parts water to one part ACV and apply to your hair; leave for a few minutes, then wash out with cool water.
Honey: Honey is a pH-balancer and has additional antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. It’s also been reported to reduce hair loss and is full of vitamins and minerals that promote overall scalp health. To use it, add some water to make it less sticky, then massage it into the scalp and leave it in for a few minutes. You can use a honey mask one to two times per week.
Coconut oil: Some people have reported using coconut oil for their seborrheic dermatitis, reporting great results. It’s important to remember that these natural remedies haven’t been extensively studied, so we can’t guarantee results. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not worth a try, and you can always try a coconut oil mask alongside your regular shampoo routine.
When applying coconut oil, you have a few options for the best results. We recommend using it as a mask, rubbing it through your hair, and letting it sit for thirty minutes to a few hours. Naturally, it may be challenging to find time to do this during the day, so your other option is to massage coconut oil into your hair before you go to sleep, then wash it off in the morning.
Does my diet influence seborrheic dermatitis?
There is some truth behind the statement “you are what you eat,” as your diet can impact the severity of your seborrheic dermatitis. One study involving over 4,000 participants found that a high fruit intake is associated with less seborrheic dermatitis and more seborrheic dermatitis with a western diet (characterized by potato, meat, and alcohol consumption). While it’s not known if eating more fruit will directly affect your symptoms, there is no harm done in adding more fruit to your diet and opting for more healthy, varied options overall.