It’s tough to beat an opponent when you don’t have all the information. That’s why treating seborrheic dermatitis – a form of eczema that affects the scalp and other parts of the body – is difficult. After all, its causes are a mystery.
Fortunately, products like shampoo that are designed to fight seborrheic dermatitis, the best of which we’ll review here, can get rid of its symptoms, including dandruff.
We’ll not only take a look at the best shampoos for treating seborrheic dermatitis – including our top pick, Nizoral A-D – but also discuss how to use the shampoo and answer some frequently asked questions.
Let’s being with some buying tips.
Table of Contents
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|Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo||Check on Amazon →|
|Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment||Check on Amazon →|
|Maple Holistics Pure Tea Tree Shampoo||Check on Amazon →|
|Puriya Sulfate-Free Tea Tree Oil Shampoo||Check on Amazon →|
|The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo||Check on Amazon →|
|Biolage Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo||Check on Amazon →|
|pHat 5.5 Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner Set||Check on Amazon →|
Before you buy: 5 Things to consider when purchasing a shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis
Seborrheic dermatitis isn’t easy to treat, and many people enlist the help of a physician or someone else in the know. Buying a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo doesn’t need to be complicated, especially if you keep the following things in mind.
The most important factor when purchasing a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo is its ingredients. The thing is, you’ll find many different ingredients in shampoos commonly used to treat the issues. Let’s consider typical ingredients first:
Ketoconazole is often used in dandruff shampoos – and others – as a means to treat seborrheic dermatitis. You’ll find it in many over-the-counter shampoos, and its primary attribute is that it inhibits fungus growth, which can lead to dandruff, one of the common symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis.
- Selenium sulfide
Selenium sulfate targets a specific yeast, pityropsorum ovale, that may lead to seborrheic dermatitis. It reduces the number of dandruff cells on the scalp while also easing itching and irritation.
- Pyrithione zinc
You’ll find pyrithione zinc in many over-the-counter dandruff shampoos, and it helps reduce bacteria on the scalp. It can also help with inflammation and itching.
- Salicylic acid
Salicylic acid is often effective for treating seborrheic dermatitis and used in conjunction with other treatments as a means to reduce scaling on the scalp.
- Coal tar
Coal tar is another ingredient sometimes found in anti-dandruff shampoos and helps suppress fungus while decreasing inflammation. Combined with ketoconazole, coal tar also helps reduce fungal growth.
2. Natural ingredients
If you’re willing to take a more natural route in treating your seborrheic dermatitis, there are some other ingredients (and remedies) to consider.
- Coconut oil
Coconut oil, used in many, many wellness products these days, has antimicrobial and antifungal properties.
- Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which may help shed excess skin cells on the scalp.
- Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil is an essential oil with antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Raw honey
Besides being antimicrobial and moisturizing to the skin, raw honey also has plenty of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes that help soothe the scalp and may prevent skin infections.
3. Talk to your doctor
When in doubt, talk to your doctor before purchasing a shampoo that helps treat seborrheic dermatitis – or talk to him or her if your over-the-counter shampoo provides no relief.
How often you need to use a shampoo that treats seborrheic dermatitis (and dandruff) varies from brand to brand. Check the instructions carefully to see how it fits into your grooming routine. Some shampoos are meant for daily use, while others are effective when used twice a week.
Medicated shampoos have a bad reputation for having a medicinal smell that isn’t to everyone’s liking. Make sure you have a good idea of how a seborrheic dermatitis shampoo smells before you purchase it. The good news is that many medicated shampoos have a pleasing scent.
Let’s move on to our reviews of the best seborrheic shampoos.
The 7 best seborrheic shampoos 2020
- Proven dandruff fighter
- Includes ketoconazole
- Don’t need to use it every day
You’d be hard-pressed to find any review of the best anti-dandruff shampoos that didn’t include Nizoral A-D. A big reason for that is that it works, which, in turn, is a good reason why it’s an Amazon bestseller.
Indeed, Nizoral A-D sets the gold standard for dandruff shampoos, and, as we know, dandruff is one of the main symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. In our minds, that makes Nizoral A-D the best seborrheic dermatitis shampoo.
The effectiveness of any dandruff shampoo comes down to its ingredients, and the key ingredient in Nizoral A-D is a 1% solution of ketoconazole. We talked briefly about ketoconazole and its role in treating a variety of hair conditions, including hair loss, and Nizoral is the only over-the-counter shampoo with 1% ketoconazole.
An antifungal medication, ketoconazole treats a variety of skin conditions, and researchers say that it’s linked to improvements in hair growth. It’s effective for treating male pattern baldness, and it keeps reducing excess levels of fungus on the scalp long after it’s applied.
As mentioned, ketoconazole binds to the natural protein of hair, which enables it to keep working long after it’s applied. Besides treating the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, it also relieves the flaking, itching, and scaling on the scalp common to dandruff.
While Nizoral A-D packs a powerful punch in the fight against dandruff and for treating seborrheic dermatitis, it’s still gentle enough for use in a salon setting. You can use it on color-treated and chemically-processed hair, and it has thick, rich lather that rinses cleanly while leaving your hair smelling fresh.
And that’s another plus about Nizoral’s A-D shampoo: it doesn’t have a heavy medicinal smell like other anti-dandruff and medicated shampoos. It has a subtle, fresh scent that’s not overpowering.
It’s also effective enough that you only need to use it a couple of times a week. Some users even report that Nizoral A-D helps thicken hair.
The folks at Nizoral advise users to leave their shampoo on the hair and scalp for several minutes after application before rinsing. That gives its ingredients a chance to treat and heal the scalp. Also, anyone 12-years-old or younger shouldn’t use it.
Nizoral comes in 4, sev7en, and 14-ounce bottles that have easy-to-use flip-top caps.
- It’s one of the most popular, and effective, anti-dandruff shampoos on the market and works well for treating seborrheic dermatitis overall.
- It gets to the root of the problem of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, thanks to its 1% solution of ketoconazole.
- It’s strong enough that you only need to use it twice a week but still gentle on hair.
- Some users report drier hair with regular use.
You might as well go with a proven product when dealing with seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. Nizoral A-D continues to be one of the best products of its kind.
- Treats even the most stubborn causes of dandruff
- Well-known brand and reputation for treating dandruff
- No prescription needed
Head & Shoulders has treated dandruff for what seems like forever, and their shampoos reflect that experience and know-how. The H & S Clinical Strength Seborrheic Dermatitis shampoo is an excellent product that offers a clinical-strength treatment without a prescription.
In this case, clinical-strength means treating the most stubborn cases of dandruff quickly and effectively. Also, it’s one the highest-rated medicated shampoos for itchy scalp available today.
While many dandruff shampoos include ketoconazole in their list of ingredients, the most important dandruff-fighting ingredient in the Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength shampoo is selenium sulfide. Selenium sulfide targets Malassezria irritants, a source of dandruff and itchiness.
It also removes excess oil and flakes and, despite being strong stuff, cleanses and moisturizes hair without leaving it overly dry. Moreover, it’s PH-balanced and gentle enough for daily use, and it’s safe to use on all hair types and textures, including color-treated hair.
- Made by a well-known brand that focuses on treating seborrheic dermatitis and all of its symptoms.
- Offers a clinical-strength solution to dandruff without needing a prescription.
- Gentle enough to use every day without worrying about drying out hair.
- Some users aren’t fond of its fragrance.
It takes a strong shampoo to fight seborrheic dermatitis and all of its symptoms. But Head & Shoulders has a clinical-strength shampoo that produces results quickly without needing a prescription.
- Tea tree oil has many benefits for the hair and scalp
- Natural ingredients
- Gentle formula
Maple Holistics makes a variety of shampoos and conditioners that target overall hair and scalp health, and their Pure Tea Tree Shampoo is an excellent product for treating seborrheic dermatitis.
But that’s nothing new for New Jersey (USA)-based Maple Holistics, which provides a wide range of holistic, premium products that are natural, chemical-free, and cruelty-free.
Their Pure Tea Tree Shampoo uses its main ingredient to fight scalp dandruff and other issues caused by seborrheic dermatitis. As we discuss at various points in this article, tea tree oil has many benefits, including that it fights dandruff, relieves itching, and has antifungal and antibacterial properties that help keep dandruff flakes from returning.
Tea Tree oil may also stimulate hair growth while slowing the effects of hair loss.
Maple Holistics’ Pure Tea Tree Shampoo includes other important essential oils, including argan oil, jojoba oil, rosemary oil, and lavender oil. Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, which has antioxidant properties that protect hair from everyday damage from pollution, chemical treatments, and grooming tools, such as hair dryers and curling irons.
Jojoba oil serves as an excellent moisturizer and is common to many hair and beard care products. Lavender oil, meanwhile, helps to stimulate hair growth and fight bacteria and fungus that contribute to seborrheic dermatitis flare-ups.
The Maple Holistics’ Tea Tree shampoo has a pleasant botanical smell, within which you’ll notice the many essential oils on its ingredients list, but it’s not overpowering in the least, and no artificial ingredients are involved.
This shampoo also has a mild lather – not too sudsy – that doesn’t strip your hair and scalp of natural oils. It takes away excess oils to prevent build-up but never too much that it leaves hair dry and lifeless. Also, argan oil helps to add shine to your hair.
- Maple Holistics makes a variety of natural products, including their Tea Tree Shampoo that has many benefits to hair health.
- It cleans hair of excess oils while still providing all of the hydration you need.
- Contains many essential oils that offer many benefits to the hair and scalp.
- Be careful if you’re sensitive to fragrances.
The Maples Holistics Tea Tree shampoo is another product that effectively fights seborrheic dermatitis without drying or damaging hair.
- Hydrates dry scalp
- Doesn’t leave an oily feeling
Puriya’s Tea Tree Oil Shampoo is proof that you don’t need a boatload of chemicals to treat hard-to-solve issues, such as seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff.
Instead, Puriya packs this shampoo with an herbal blend of botanicals that provide many benefits to the hair and scalp. Puriya’s blend includes tea tree oil, rosemary, arnica, and sage. It doesn’t include sulfates, sodium chloride, or parabens – the kind of stuff that can be harsh on hair and may come with harmful side effects.
But let’s look at what’s in Puriya’s shampoo:
- Tea tree oil
The extracted oil from the tea tree shrub has many benefits, not the least of which is that it can destroy microbes and fungi. It’s also an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial, and it treats everything from dandruff to sinus infections and earaches. It even kills lice.
Tea tree’s many benefits for the scalp and hair include that it fights the fungus that causes dandruff without drying out the scalp. Dry skin and dandruff clog hair follicles and can slow hair growth. Tea tree oil helps to clear those follicles while preventing a buildup of excess oil.
- Rosemary oil
Among other attributes, rosemary oil encourages hair growth by strengthening the blood flow to the scalp. That keeps hair follicles from being starved of blood and dying off – which leads to hair loss.
But rosemary oil also is used to treat dandruff, an itchy scalp, and even premature graying.
- Arnica oil
Arnica oil is native to colder regions, such as Siberia and Eastern Europe, and has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. That makes it helpful for treating hair conditions, because it clears away built-up oils and bacteria on the scalp.
Arnica oil can improve your scalp’s texture and relieve the itching and inflammation common to seborrheic dermatitis.
Sage is a good source of vitamins B and C, magnesium, zinc, and potassium, and it has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties that help improve scalp health.
The Puriya Tea Tree Oil Shampoo ingredients help deal with the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis in a variety of ways. For one, they provide superior hydration to the hair and scalp while helping to repair brittle and damaged hair. For another, they lock in moisture and rejuvenate the scalp.
Puriya’s Tea Tree Oil Shampoo removes excess oil, product build-up, and impurities on the hair while cleansing it gently. Your hair will never feel too oily when using this shampoo.
What it doesn’t do is bombard your scalp with a bunch of chemicals, because it’s sulfate- and paraben-free, and it doesn’t include synthetic fragrances. It’s also PH-balanced and gentle enough for daily use, and it’s suitable for all hair types.
It also comes with a money-back guarantee. If you don’t like it, send it back for a refund.
- Its blend of natural ingredients help moisturize and soothe the scalp and hair.
- You can use it daily, and it’s safe to use on all hair types, including children’s hair.
- It doesn’t leave an oily residue behind but moisturizes hair naturally, instead.
- More expensive than some other shampoos used to treat seborrheic dermatitis.
Puriya’s Tea Tree shampoo is good for the hair and scalp in many ways, including that it provides superior hydration when compared to many brands.
- Gently removes dandruff
- Soothes the scalp
- May help stimulate hair growth
Another ingredient that has many positive effects on the scalp is ginger essential oil. The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo takes advantage of those effects in a shampoo that features Sri Lankan ginger essential oil.
Why is ginger essential oil effective for hair health? Here’s a look:
- It has antiseptic properties that help reduce scalp infections and dandruff, both signs of seborrheic dermatitis.
- Ginger essential oil helps to promote hair growth, because it stimulates hair follicles. It contains many vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids that help strengthen hair strands to combat hair loss.
- It helps restore your scalp’s natural moisture balance.
- It acts as a natural conditioner and helps improve the look and feel of your hair. Its unique oils act as antioxidants that help protect hair against damage.
- Ginger essential oil helps to treat and prevent split ends. You can add ginger essential oil to your favorite leave-in conditioner or apply it before washing your hair.
You don’t have to worry about adding ginger to your favorite hair products with The Body Shop’s Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo, because it’s blended with other ingredients to create a potent blend with many benefits to scalp and hair health.
Other key ingredients found in this shampoo include birch bark, white willow extracts, and honey. Combined with ginger essential oil, the result is a product that gently removes dandruff flakes while soothing the scalp.
The Body Shop gets its fair trade – and community-produced – honey from the Beza Mar group of Ethiopia, which is dedicated to improving the livelihood of the country’s beekeeping communities while maintaining their traditional methods of working with bees. The honey helps to enhance the Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo’s moisturizing qualities.
The Ginger Scalp Care shampoo works in a variety of ways, including that it treats the microbes and bacteria that may lead to dandruff. It’s gentler than many other dandruff treatments but still has more than enough potency to help you rid your scalp of those unwanted white flakes.
For optimal results, The Body Shop recommends following up with its Ginger Scalp Care Conditioner.
- Its all-natural formula doesn’t contain parabens or sulfates.
- It treats scalp conditions common to seborrheic dermatitis, including dandruff.
- It helps to hydrate the scalp and relieves itchiness without being harsh on hair.
- Not recommended for use on color-treated hair.
The Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo by the Body Shop has many natural, unique ingredients that offer several benefits to the hair and scalp. It’s the best natural shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis.
- Relieves scalp irritation
- Controls dandruff
- Cool, refreshing sensation
Mint is another ingredient that we’re all familiar with but perhaps don’t realize has many benefits for hair health. It’s a key ingredient in Biolage’s Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff shampoo and helps make it one of the best seborrheic dermatitis shampoos out there.
But back to mint, one of the highest sources of beta carotene. The body converts beta carotene to vitamin A, and vitamin A is necessary for all cell growth, including hair cells. It also prevents dandruff – a deficiency of vitamin A can lead to a dry scalp and flaking – while it can also spur hair growth while slowing the rate of thinning hair.
Biolage’s Scalpsync shampoo takes full advantage of mint’s calming and anti-bacterial properties while treating the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis. It targets dandruff and bacteria that lead to scalp irritation and other issues.
It also acts as an ideal cleanser while washing away excess oil on the scalp. Plus, it has the cool, refreshing sensation that you’d expect from mint.
Another key ingredient in Biolage’s Scalpsync shampoo is pyrithione zinc, which we mentioned earlier in our seborrheic dermatitis buying tips. Pyrithione zinc reduces bacteria on the scalp and also helps fight dandruff.
Scalpsync also serves as a scalp conditioner while nourishing hair and giving it a healthy look – not one that’s dull and lifeless. You can also use it in conjunction with Scalpsync’s Conditioner for even better results.
Among the shampoo’s other ingredients is salicylic acid, which has proven effective in the fight against dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
Something else we like about the Scalpsync shampoo is that it’s suitable for all hair types, including color-treated hair. It’s the best shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis and colored hair.
- Contains mint leaf extract, which is a known dandruff and scalp bacteria fighter.
- It leaves a cooling, fresh sensation on your scalp, thanks to mint.
- You can use it on all hair types, including color-treated hair.
- Contains sulfates and parabens.
There’s a lot to like about Biolage’s Scalpsync shampoo, not the least of which is that it’s effective in fighting dandruff and scalp bacteria. You’ll like how your scalp feels after using this shampoo.
- Unique blend of natural ingredients
- No chemicals
- Soothes and moisturizes the scalp
Another company that makes the most of what nature has to offer is pHat 5.5. That’s evident when you look at the ingredients found in its Sulfate-Free Shampoo and Conditioner, including manuka honey, aloe vera, and cehami.
The result is a shampoo that provides gentle yet powerful relief of seborrheic dermatitis symptoms without the use of sulfate, parabens, and other chemicals that can irritate the scalp.
Manuka honey, sourced from New Zealand, is considered “medical grade” and has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Aloe vera forms the product base and soothes irritation while relieving inflammation. A variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants help provide nourishment directly to the scalp.
Phat 5.5 is all about restoring the natural pH balance of the scalp and skin, which helps make this shampoo very effective. The right pH balance helps the scalp to restore moisture and oil levels.
The deep moisturizing provided from the pHat 5.5 shampoo ingredients helps to relieve itching while treating dandruff.
- Strong but natural formula for fighting seborrheic dermatitis.
- The shampoo helps restore the scalp and skin’s natural pH balance.
- Gentle enough to keep hair hydrated and inflammation at bay but strong enough for the fight against dandruff.
- It may take time to see results.
Another company to watch is pHat 5.5, which produces some very effective natural products. Their shampoo and conditioner set is excellent for fighting seborrheic dermatitis.
7 Tips for using seborrheic dermatitis shampoo
Let’s be clear: you can’t cure seborrheic dermatitis. It’s a recurring condition that you can treat while reducing its symptoms greatly. Treatment also has many benefits, including that it can prevent a skin infection while reducing swelling and itching caused by seborrheic dermatitis.
Using a shampoo designed to treat seborrheic dermatitis is a great way to reduce symptoms and even keep them from coming back on a too-frequent basis.
1. Use over-the-counter shampoos frequently
OTC shampoos often are effective for treating seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff, and many of them are good for daily use until symptoms ease. Make sure that the shampoo penetrates the scalp deeply and leave it on for a few minutes to let the ingredients do their work before rinsing it off.
2. Follow your doctor’s instructions
Always follow your physician’s instructions when using a medicated shampoo available by prescription only. The instructions may vary depending on your age and the severity of your symptoms. Stick to the plan.
3. Alternate with regular shampoos
In some cases, it’s OK to alternate between two shampoos, i.e., you can use a dandruff shampoo one day and your regular shampoo the next.
4. Ease off, if needed
As your dandruff and other symptoms lessen, you may want to decrease your use of shampoos designed to treat seborrheic dermatitis, or, in some cases, a shampoo’s formula is strong enough that you only need to use it a couple of times a week from the start (such as Nizoral A-D).
5. Avoid styling products when possible
It’s a good idea to skip styling products, such as sprays and gels, as you’re treating seborrheic dermatitis with shampoo. Also, you should avoid hair products that contain alcohol, because they can make symptoms worse.
6. Use oils to remove scale and flakes
Mineral oil and olive oil work great for removing scales from your scalp. Your shampoo will lift and remove dirt and excess oil, but a hot oil treatment – in which you apply oil to your hair with a processing cap and leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes – will loosen dandruff flakes. You can use oil as a pre-shampoo or by itself.
Note: Never apply oil without intending to rinse it off. Additional oils, if left on the hair and scalp a long time, will cause irritation and inflammation.
7. Use a conditioner
You can follow up your shampoo with a deep conditioner that helps seal in moisture while making your hair softer and more manageable.
How we chose these products
Shampoos designed to treat seborrheic shampoo do many of the same things but may take a different path to achieve this goal. Where they diverge is in their lists of ingredients – some use ketoconazole and others don’t, for example – but they’re all designed to achieve the same end goal.
We looked carefully at every shampoo’s ingredients, and we favor natural ingredients whenever possible. We also considered the brand’s reputation and, as always, the reviews of others, particularly the reviews of customers.
Price is another factor we consider in our product reviews, and we try to review products in a broad price range, but effectiveness remains the most important criterion.
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
What is seborrheic dermatitis?
Seborrheic dermatitis is a skin condition that mainly affects the scalp. Signs of seborrheic dermatitis include red skin, scaly patches, and dandruff. It may affect other oily areas of the body, as well, such as the eyebrows, face, and chest.
How is seborrheic dermatitis treated?
Treatments for seborrheic dermatitis include shampoos, creams, and lotions. All of the treatments focus on reducing scalp inflammation and swelling, relieving itching, and loosening scales that lead to dandruff. There are also various home remedies for treating it.
What causes seborrheic dermatitis?
Doctors aren’t sure what causes seborrheic dermatitis, but it could be related to yeast found in the oil secretion of the skin or an irregular immune system response.
How to get rid of seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp
Medicated shampoos, creams, and lotions can reduce and even eliminate seborrheic dermatitis on the scalp. There are also many home remedies, including over-the-counter shampoos that your doctor may recommend before trying prescription-based remedies.
How to get rid of seborrheic dermatitis naturally
There are many natural solutions for treating seborrheic dermatitis. Aloe vera, probiotics, fish oil – all can help enhance scalp and hair health, while essential oils, such as tea tree oil, can also help.
How often should I wash my hair if I have seborrheic dermatitis?
It’s advisable to wash your hair frequently when you begin using shampoo to help treat seborrheic dermatitis. You can cut back a bit when you start to see positive results. Be careful when using medicated shampoos, however, because they can be harsh on hair follicles.
What is the best shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis?
Nizoral’s A-D Anti-Dandruff shampoo, which we discuss in our reviews above, is the best shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis. It treats and prevents dandruff and includes ketoconazole, an ingredient that binds to the natural proteins of hair to kill dandruff.
How to prevent seborrheic dermatitis
Preventing seborrheic dermatitis is tricky, because researchers still aren’t sure what causes it. However, they do know that it isn’t caused by poor hygiene and that it’s not an allergy, but there are several ways to treat it, including with the shampoos listed in our reviews.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a difficult condition to address, but thanks to products such as shampoos designed to treat it, its symptoms can be managed effectively. We think our list of shampoos above will help make your symptoms much less prevalent.
Do you use a shampoo designed to treat seborrheic dermatitis? If so, which one? We’d love to hear from you and welcome your feedback and suggestions.