Is Head and Shoulders good for seborrheic dermatitis?

Seborrheic dermatitis is an itchy, red skin condition that most commonly affects the scalp, face, and neck. There are many treatments available, but some people find that using Head & Shoulders shampoo and conditioner helps relieve their symptoms. In fact, globally, about one hundred bottles of Head and Shoulders are sold every minute.

Let’s take a deep dive:

Is Head and Shoulders shampoo effective?

Head & Shoulders is a great option for those with seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp. It contains zinc pyrithione, which has anti-fungal properties to combat Malassezia growth. It alo strips away excess oil, reducing flaking.

Head & Shoulders Shampoo is definitely effective for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, especially in the short term. However, as the shampoo exerts a direct effect on killing Malassezia, the yeast will grow back. You’ll need to use Head & Shoulders regularly to see continuous results.

Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Daily-Use Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, 13.5 Fl Oz, Pack of 2Check it out on Amazon

Is Head and Shoulders clinically proven?

Head & Shoulders claim that their shampoo formula is clinically proven on the website. I haven’t found the list of clinical studies. However, the active ingredient in Head & Shoulders shampoo is zinc pyrithione which is proven to control dandruff.

Having said that, in moderate to severe seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, ketoconazole 2% trump zinc pyrithione 1% shampoo in efficacy.

Ketoconazole 1% shampoo is available over-the-counter but you will need a prescription for ketoconazole 2% formulations:

Nizoral A-D Ketoconazole Anti-Dandruff Shampoo 7 fl oz (Pack of 4)Check it out on Amazon

Further reading: Is zinc pyrithione good for seborrheic dermatitis? Is it safe?

How to treat seborrheic dermatitis using Head and Shoulders

Head and Shoulders is an anti-dandruff shampoo that can help to treat seborrhea by removing flakes and oils from the scalp. It contains zinc pyrithione, an anti-fungal that kills Malassezia.

However, you need to use Head & Shoulders shampoo regularly to keep the Malassezia population in check. When you stop using the shampoo, the yeast levels will rise again, causing itching and flaking.

After massaging Head & Shoulders into your scalp, leave on for 10 minutes. Then wash out all the shampoo thoroughly with luke warm or cool water. Make sure you condition afterwards, either with a Head & Shoulders conditioner or any other brand that doesn’t irritate your scalp.

Head and Shoulders Conditioner, Moisture Renewal, Anti Dandruff Treatment and Scalp Care, Royal Oils Collection with Coconut Oil, for Natural and Curly Hair, 13.5 fl ozCheck it out on Amazon

I usually wash my hair every other day, especially in summer. How often you wash your hair depends on how quickly your scalp gets oily and itchy.

If you find that Head and Shoulders isn’t providing relief from your seborrhea symptoms, talk to your doctor about other treatment options. He or she may recommend a combination of a dandruff shampoo, an antifungal agent, and a topical steroid.

Further reading: The 8 best scalp oils for seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff

Why is Head and Shoulders not good for your hair?

When using Head and Shoulders for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis, there are some potential side effects that you may experience. These include skin irritation, dryness, and a rebound increase in oil production.

I’ve definitely found that the more often I use Head & Shoulders, the quicker my hair gets oily. Over time, I find myself needing to wash my hair more frequently. This is because the shampoo really dries out your hair and scalp, even causing your hair to feel brittle and rough.

Head & Shoulders have now come up with the ‘Supreme range’ which is supposed to not only treat dandruff, but also soften and smoothen your hair. I just bought it. Will keep everyone posted on how it goes.

Head & Shoulders Supreme Dry Scalp Care and Dandruff Treatment Shampoo and Conditioner Bundle, with Argan and Jojoba Oil, Nourish and Smooth Hair and ScalpCheck it out on Amazon

If you have a child with cradle cap, Head & Shoulders is not suitable to use. You can try a Cetaphil Baby Shampoo instead.  

Can Head and Shoulder make seborrheic dermatitis worse?

There is some concern that using Head and Shoulders products for seborrheic dermatitis could make the condition worse. Head and Shoulders don’t make SD worse for most people. However, it can exacerbate SD in some. If you are experiencing flaking or rebound oily scalp, it might be a good idea to stop using Head and Shoulder products and switch to a different shampoo.

Can Head and Shoulders cause dermatitis?

Head and Shoulders is specifically formulated to treat dandruff and mild seborrheic dermatitis. However, due to the active ingredients and relative harshness of the product, it can cause irritant or allergic dermatitis, especially if you have sensitive skin.

If you get a reaction to Head and Shoulders, stop using the shampoo immediately. There are other less irritating options out there.

Avalon Organics Therapy Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, 14 OzCheck it out on Amazon

If Head & Shoulders doesn’t agree with you, another strong medicated shampoo for scalp SD is Dermarest. The active ingredients in Dermarest are salicylic acid 3% and zinc PCA. 

Further reading: Is salicylic acid good for seborrheic dermatitis?

Can I use normal shampoo if I have seborrheic dermatitis?

If you’re experiencing mild dandruff, using a regular shampoo is fine. Even with moderate seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, I find the flare reduces over a few days even without using any anti-fungal or anti-dandruff shampoos. Just make sure your regular shampoo doesn’t cause build up on your scalp as that can make dandruff worse.

If your symptoms don’t go away after two weeks of daily use, it’s worth considering an anti-fungal shampoo. There are a number of different treatments available for seborrheic dermatitis, some of which are over-the-counter.

Even though you can use normal shampoos, the good thing about using anti-dandruff shampoos is that you might reduce the duration of your current SD flare and prevent another one from happening so soon.

Can I use Head and Shoulders shampoo on my face?

Your facial skin is thinner and more sensitive than your scalp. I don’t recommend using Head and Shoulders on your face like a mask. It might cause irritant dermatitis or dry your face out so much that it exacerbates your seborrheic dermatitis. However, if the shampoo runs over your face while you’re washing it out from your hair, that’s entirely acceptable, doesn’t cause any problems (except stinging eyes) and might even help a little with SD of the face.

Further reading: Check out the best anti-fungal creams for seborrheic dermatitis of the face.

To wrap up

Head and Shoulders is an effective shampoo for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. However, it doesn’t work for everyone and is less effective for moderate to severe seborrheic dermatitis. If your symptoms continue after two weeks of use, switch anti-fungal shampoos or consult a doctor.

You may also be interested in this article: Will zinc oxide help seborrheic dermatitis?

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