I've been an online writer for over 10 years. My articles primarily focus on product reviews.
Many people suffer from dandruff. In some cases, it's caused by dry scalp, but chronic dandruff is caused by a fungal growth. If you've ever had athlete's foot, the same kind of sweaty and oily environment can be a feeding ground for dandruff-causing fungus. Fortunately, it's easy to go to the drug store and pick up an over-the-counter shampoo. The two most commonly used dandruff shampoos are Head & Shoulders and Selsun Blue. While these shampoos work for light to moderate dandruff, though, they do not do well for severe flaking.
Those who suffer from severe dandruff need something more. The active ingredients in these common shampoos are not enough to deal with fungal growth. It may sound gross that a fungus is growing on your scalp, but dandruff is a condition that can seriously impact self esteem.
Head & Shoulders
Head & Shoulders is probably the most recognized dandruff treatment on the market. When I first had dandruff, it did an okay job controlling the flakes, but as some of you may know, it doesn't always work. Sometimes, it would work and then completely stop working, as if the fungus develops an immunity to the treatment. Head & Shoulders only seem to work for people with light dandruff. Using it is fairly pleasant. It has a distinct but light odor. It lathers moderately well too.
Selsun Blue is the more serious version of Head & Shoulders. Everything about it is more intense. If you had a severe dandruff outbreak and used it for the first time, you would feel it sting your scalp. It's a strange sensation. The smell is also very strong and "medicinal." It lathers on strong and feels very heavy. The odor can linger after rinsin, even if you've rinsed thoroughly. It may be a good idea to apply a conditioner after using it to mask the strong odor.
Pyrithione Zinc vs. Selenium Sulfide?
The active ingredient in Head & Shoulders is pyrithione zinc. Pyrithione zinc is an anti-fungal ingredient that treats mild dandruff well. If you've never had dandruff before, using pyrithione zinc is an easy and cost-effective way to control dandruff.
Selsun Blue's active ingredient is selenium sulfide. Selsun Blue have been acclaimed for being more effective than Head & Shoulders in treating flakes and ranks second in the treatment of dandruff. First time users will be overwhelmed by the strong scent but will be happy with the results compared to Head & Shoulders. If you have moderate dandruff, Selsun Blue may be right for you. It's is available over the counter with 1% pyrithione zinc or with a prescription increasing the strength to 2.5%.
Nizoral is currently the best treatment for chronic dandruff. Not surprisingly, it is also the most expensive. A small bottle can cost over $15. Nizoral not only works great, it is also the most discreet. When you buy it, it looks very generic as not many people know about it. This can save you some embarrassment in the checkout line. It also lathers the best out of the three. It lathers strong and smells like a regular shampoo. It has a very light feel and the smell is very pleasant. It doesn't linger too long either, so no one will know you are using it. It doesn't have the "medicinal" feel of Selsun Blue yet it is the strongest dandruff shampoo you can purchase over-the-counter. It was originally a prescription shampoo having 2% ketoconazole as the active ingredient while the over-the-counter is 1%.
Ketoconazole Is the King
Dandruff is a common condition that is seemingly minor compared to other health problems. Unlike others, though, dandruff can affect other aspects of your life. Especially your social life. If you have chronic dandruff, you may be shy to go out or hide under a hat.
At the moment, there is no cure for dandruff. There are only treatments. There are speculations that in 5 to 10 years there will be a cure. Some people including myself believe a cure already exists, but is kept secret to protect the industry. Why cure it when it can be treated for years?
While over-the-counter ketoconazole is the best treatment for dandruff, it is important to follow other habits to control your flaking:
- Do not wear a hat. Hats trap moisture and sweat. Fungi thrive in damp and dark places. What better place to grow than under a sweaty baseball cap?
- Go out in the sun. Shed some stimulating light on your scalp.
- Eat your vitamins. Fungus seem to grow poorly in zinc-enriched diets. This means eat your avocados and oysters.
- Also, throw away your pillows and change them regularly. They are fairly cheap and having dandruff-ridden pillows can mean regression after a long period without flaking.
Another noteworthy mention is hair loss. Some studies have suggested that ketoconazole helps in the treatment of hair loss. The benefits even rival the popular hair-loss product, Rogaine.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
John on February 23, 2020:
head and shoulders clinical strength also have selenium
Sayeh on August 25, 2018:
People ignore that hair loss can also be a result of seborrheic dermatitis which is an aggressive form of dandruff that results in clogged follicles which then either stop growing or grow in weaker. Ketoconazole happens to be the best treatment for S.D. so I'm guessing that's how it treats hair loss. I doubt it actually acts on DHT receptors, especially at the OTC strength.
Mike J. on December 19, 2017:
Good info, TY!
Set's All Set (author) from New England on April 05, 2017:
For all you guys(and girls) out there who may suffer from thinning hair, ketoconazole have been in scientific studies that suggest it can reduce hair loss. Plenty of articles on it if you perform a standard search.
Damon on November 16, 2016:
It only inhibits testosterone synthesis locally. In other words, it acts on your scalp and that's a good thing because excessive testosterone is the major cause of male hair loss. So unless you're using ketoconazole on an open wound, or your using it to wash your pubic hair or scrotum, I wouldn't worry about hormonal inhibition. In fact balding men would welcome it.
Reality on November 24, 2015:
Ketoconazole inhibits testosterone biosynthesis in men according to the NIH. I'll take the dandruff, thanks!
Nguyen on January 10, 2015:
Well, its bad for your hair to shampoo it earyedvy, so you should do it every other day. Its good that you put conditioner, that way, your hair gets to be soft and shiny!Well, I'm not sure that this question has a best answer or not .but washing means cleaning or something I guess, so you are still treating your hair Like another answerer said, I guess it counts if you want it to count! :]
Ruben on December 29, 2014:
Good one. I'm very sensitive with peranosl space too. I love the analogy here. I also like what you mention about it not quite feeling right and I think that's good too. Sometimes things just don't work and it's good to listen to that feeling.I get new web designers asking me every once in awhile to critique their designs. Most of the time, the designs aren't really bad, but they make the same mistake. I tell them, give it margins and paddings and even it all out . Which, is pretty much the techie css way of stating what you are saying give it room to breath and make it symmetrical. Amazing how much better a design becomes just by doing that alone.
HuZzaeimah on December 27, 2014:
Good one. I'm very sensitive with poarensl space too. I love the analogy here. I also like what you mention about it not quite feeling right and I think that's good too. Sometimes things just don't work and it's good to listen to that feeling.I get new web designers asking me every once in awhile to critique their designs. Most of the time, the designs aren't really bad, but they make the same mistake. I tell them, give it margins and paddings and even it all out . Which, is pretty much the techie css way of stating what you are saying give it room to breath and make it symmetrical. Amazing how much better a design becomes just by doing that alone.
larry sanders on April 25, 2013:
for thos who use head and shoulders.. there is absolutely no reason to spend 5 bucks on this stuff... the store brands and generic brands have the same exact active ingrediant and work exactly the same.. the smell, the color, the lathering, and the same consistency and they the same job on dandruff.... actually those dollar stores that are popping up lately all over the country sell anti-danfruff shampoos with the same active ingrediant head and shoulders uses for only a dollar !! .. yes a dollar !! .. these brands are made in canada and they are not as greedy as american companies... don't ever get brain washed with the name brand folks... you work hard for your money...
Diego on January 24, 2013:
This article describes my experience with dandruf 100%. I tried all the different Head & shoulders shampoos (dry scalp, dry hair, etc.) and none of them worked. I switched to Selsun Blue and it was the same thing. I then tried Nizoral and that finally did the trick. I'm Dandruff-free and I feel so much better and more comfortable with myself!
butterflystar on September 02, 2012:
Awesome, i will have to try this :)
RichardCMckeown on August 25, 2011:
Great hub! A wonderful information I got here.THanks.
Set's All Set (author) from New England on November 20, 2010:
Ketomac contains 2% ketoconazole. Nizorol contains 1% but their prescription strength is 2%. I have not tried Ketomac but Nizorol is very pleasant. There is no stinging nor is there any strong odor. It smells like a regular shampoo. You don't get the burning sensation with salicylic acid shampoos.
divyanshi on November 19, 2010:
is ketomac better or nizorol??