The most common treatment for seborrhoeic eczema is the use of specially developed shampoos. These have a double effect: they remove skin scales and inhibit the formation of new skin. Various ingredients are used. Read on to find out what you need to know when looking for the best seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo!

Care for a sensitive scalp

Seborrheic eczema is a skin disease that can be triggered or aggravated by various factors, for example stress. A successful treatment therefore aims first of all to avoid triggering factors. Anyone suffering from eczema of the scalp should also ensure that the scalp is cared for sufficiently and carefully – this includes the use of shampoos specially developed for seborrhoeic dermatitis.

Good to know: By choosing the right seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo, you can get the skin condition well under control. Most likely you will need to test a few products until you find the best one for your eczema. However, if you experience inflammatory reactions or other side effects, consult a doctor.

For the initial treatment you can use over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos. These are used on the one hand to inhibit dandruff formation and on the other hand for itching.

To support the effectiveness of the shampoos in the fight against seborrhoeic dermatitis, you should wash your hair about three to five times a week. If the product shows no effect, try another product or consult your doctor for advice. If the symptoms improve or heal, you can then use your normal shampoo again.

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The ingredients of a seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo

A variety of specially developed shampoos are available for those affected by seborrheic eczema. The following substances are common ingredients.

Anti-inflammatory Ingredients

The following ingredients have anti-inflammatory properties and can be found in seborrheic eczema shampoos.


Urea is the end product of amino acid metabolism and is therefore found in animal and plant tissues.

It is excreted in the human metabolism via the kidneys, but is also found on the skin. It reaches the skin with sweat and accounts for about 7 % of the natural moisturizing factors of the horny layer. Due to its elementary structure, it attracts moisture from the air and holds it, so that the skin is moisturized. If urea is missing on the skin, this leads to severe dehydration.

Due to its properties, urea is used in medicine and cosmetics as a natural moisturising factor which has no side effects and improves the water-binding capacity, thus increasing the skin’s moisture content. This is also important in the treatment of ichthyosis, psoriasis and neurodermatitis, where urea is used in a concentration of 5 – 10 %.

Urea as an ingredient for cosmetics and medical cosmetics.

Origin: For reasons of purity, the urea used in cosmetics and medicine is not produced from animal or vegetable sources, but from carbon dioxide and ammonia in combination with high temperature and high pressure.


Retinoids are chemical substances related to vitamin A. This group of substances is used in dermatology both for local (cream/ointment/gel) and systemic therapy.

Retinoids are most frequently used in the treatment of severe acne or various forms of psoriasis. Retinoids are also used in the treatment or prevention of certain tumour diseases of the skin. The therapy of advanced stages of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma is the main focus here.

Azelaic Acid

Azelaic acid is an antibacterial acne remedy for the external treatment of mild to moderate acne. It promotes the normal cornification process of the skin cells and thus inhibits the development of blackheads. Local skin irritations are often the undesirable effects. Azelaic acid is also suitable for the treatment of rosacea.

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory from the group of salicylates with analgesic, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory and corneal dissolving properties. It is used medically exclusively externally to dissolve corneas and as a local analgesic. There are potentially numerous side effects when taking it. Since salicylic acid is absorbed through the skin, the drugs should not be applied over large areas. Its use as a food preservative is controversial and prohibited in many countries.


Resorcinol (resorcinol) is an antiseptic and slightly corrosive active ingredient from the group of keratolytics. It is the diphenol 1,3-dihydroxybenzene. Resorcinol is contained in a small number of externally applied medicines for the treatment of acne, warts and corns. Due to the possible adverse effects, it is only used in limitation.

Coal Tar

Purified extracts from coal tar can be used for the treatment of psoriasis (e.g. psoriasis vulgaris) and chronic eczema, but are prohibited in some countries as an ingredient in cosmetics due to their carcinogenic properties. Coal tar inhibits itching (antipruriginosum) and has bactericidal, fungicidal and insecticidal effects (due to its ingredients, e.g. cresols).

Antifungal Ingredients

The following ingredients have antifungal properties and can be found in seborrheic dermatitis shampoos.


Climbazole is a preservative with an antimicrobial effect and belongs to the group of halogen-organic compounds. It is a chemical, white-grey coloured powder with a pungent odour. It is antimycotic, i.e. it inhibits the reproduction of fungi and bacteria.

As Climbazole has an antimycotic and fungistatic effect, it is mainly used in care products that prevent athlete’s foot or nail fungus. In addition, the ingredient is one of the most popular active ingredients against dandruff.

The reason for increased dandruff formation on the scalp is the yeast fungus Malassezia, which is fought by active ingredients such as Climbazole. This is why most anti-dandruff shampoos contain this ingredient.

Selenium Sulfide

Selenium disulfide, also known as Selenium sulfide, is an active ingredient from the group of keratolytics for the treatment of increased sebum production, dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, pityriasis versicolor and psoriasis of the scalp. It normalizes skin formation and sebum secretion and has an antimicrobial effect. Selenium disulfide is used in the form of a shampoo or as a suspension. Possible adverse effects include skin irritation, hair discoloration, dry skin and rarely increased hair loss.

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Clotrimazole is an antimycotic agent from the group of azole antimycotics with antibacterial properties. It is used for the external treatment of skin fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot and diaper dermatitis. In the form of vaginal tablets and creams, it is used to treat vaginal mycosis. Undesirable effects may include local skin irritation or hypersensitivity reactions.


Ciclopirox is a fungicidal, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial active ingredient from the group of antimycotics for the treatment of fungal infections of the skin, mucous membrane and nails. The effects are based among other things on the inhibition of the absorption of important substances into the fungal cell. The application depends on the disease to be treated. The drugs are exclusively administered topically. The most common potential adverse effects include local reactions at the site of administration.

Zinc pyrithione

Zinc pyrithione is an active ingredient from the group of keratostatics with antimycotic and antibacterial properties for the treatment of dandruff. It is applied in the form of a shampoo 1-2 times a week. Possible adverse effects include hypersensitivity reactions.


Ketoconazole is an antimycotic active ingredient from the group of azole antimycotics, which is used for the external treatment of skin fungal infections, pityriasis versicolor and seborrheic dermatitis. The effects are based on the inhibition of ergosterol synthesis in fungi. Possible adverse effects include local reactions such as rashes and skin irritation, hypersensitivity reactions, impaired taste and eye irritation. Ketoconazole can cause numerous drug interactions when used systemically because it is a potent CYP450 inhibitor. However, no interactions are known to occur with local therapy.

In particularly severe cases, the doctor can also prescribe medication with ketoconazole. Because, certain types of fungi are suspected of causing seborrhoeic eczema. The partly successful treatment with the anti-fungal agent speaks for this assumption.

For an optimal course of treatment in severe cases, a systemic, antimycotic therapy can also be used. This means that not only is the eczema treated locally, but the therapy is extended to the entire organism.

A long-term stabilization of the skin condition is often achieved by using solutions, creams or lotions containing metronidazole or erythromycin (antibacterially effective).

The use of anti-inflammatory agents with corticosteroids (cortisone) is also possible for a limited period of time. However, the use of antimycotic shampoos containing cortisone is only recommended for a short period of time in order to avoid the risk of possible side effects such as tissue shrinkage of the skin.

On the other hand, shampoos that soften dandruff can be used without restriction.

Note: Seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo should be used according to the package insert or after consulting your doctor.

The best 5 shampoos for seborrhoic dermatitis

ArtNaturals Therapeutic Argan Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

The seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo of ArtNaturals is clinically tested and contains a special care formula with the ingredients of argan oil and coal tar. It convinces with its strong effect on the scalp and hair. It is rich in vitamin E and omega fatty acids, which moisturize the scalp and reduce dandruff in the long term.

Furthermore, the Anti Dandruff Shampoo is suitable for all hair types and can be easily applied to the hair. Especially the pump bottle is very helpful when it comes to applying the shampoo.

Benefits of this shampoo:

  • Robust, travel-friendly packaging
  • Has a pleasant fragrance
  • Cleanses your hair efficiently and controls itching
  • Fights dandruff effectively
  • Makes the hair soft and smooth

ArtNaturals has set a great standard with this shampoo. There are hardly any negative reviews from users which speaks for its effectiveness.

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ORIBE Serene Scalp Anti-dandruff Shampoo

Gentle, non-irritating seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo with salicylic acid against dandruff and for itchy scalp. Stop dandruff once and for all!

Benefits of this shampoo:

  • Gently washes and soothes itching and irritation
  • Peels off the skin and removes dandruff
  • Supports the optimal skin moisture and keeps it in balance
  • Reduces dryness and reduces skin redness
  • Hair and skin are refreshed, healthy and free of dandruff
  • Without parabens, sulphates, gluten and sodium chloride. 100% vegan

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The Body Shop Ginger Scalp Care Shampoo

The Ginger Anti Dandruff Shampoo from The Body Shop is another effective seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo. The shampoo soothes your scalp and refreshes your hair with its ginger root extracts. It is specially formulated to care for dry and flaky scalp and reduce dandruff without stripping the head of its natural oils.

TheĀ  ingredients such as birch bark, silver willow and honey from Ethiopia are all vegan and very environmentally friendly.

Benefits of this shampoo:

  • Extremely mild, which is a rarity with dandruff shampoos.
  • Refreshes the scalp and has a good consistency
  • Reduces dandruff with regular use
  • Does not dry out your hair and controls itching
  • Not tested on animals and vegan ingredients

Be aware that this shampoo is not suitable for oily hair.

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MATRIX Biolage Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Inspired by the antimycotic, antibacterial and soothing properties of mint, Biolage SCALPSYNC seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo gently cleanses the scalp and removes dandruff effectively. The hair becomes smooth, shiny and easier to style. This gentle cleansing shampoo for hair and scalp gives your hair new shine and freshness, it reliably removes dandruff and sebum residues and alleviates the symptoms of flaky scalp. Piroctone Olamine and Citric Acid stop the growth of the bacteria responsible for dandruff formation.

Benefits of this shampoo:

  • Gentle cleansing
  • eliminates dandruff
  • removes sebum residues
  • relieves your scalp
  • makes your hair smooth and shiny

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Nizoral is a medicinal seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo for the treatment of skin infections caused by fungi and yeasts in teenagers and adults. With Nizoral MED Shampoo 2% you can effectively treat the reddish-brown spots with the typical yellow or whitish scales that form in seborrheic dermatitis. The active ingredient ketoconazole can quickly relieve the symptoms associated with the infection and prevent a new infection. For quick relief, you should wash your hair with Nizoral twice a week for 2 – 4 weeks. To prevent relapses, it is also advisable to use Nizoral once every 1 – 2 weeks. Due to the harsh chemicals I’d recommend you to try other more natural shampoo solutions first. However, if you did that already and didn’t see any positive results, give Nizoral a try!

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The use of essential oils for dandruff

Since seborrhoeic eczema is characterized by yellowish, greasy scales, agents that flush out the excess fat are recommended. Anti-dandruff shampoos are therefore generally recommended. However, some affected persons rely on the effect of certain essential oils in the treatment of eczema. The following oils are considered fungicidal (anti-fungal):

  • Lavender
  • Myrrh
  • Marigold
  • Tea tree

You can put these oils in a neutral shampoo such as a castor oil shampoo or alternatively in water and then rinse the scalp with them. The oils mentioned above help some affected persons, while others only get a grip on the scalp dermatitis by using special seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoos. The only way to find out how the essential oils work for your seborrhoeic eczema is to try them out. However, if you notice that your eczema gets worse and inflammatory symptoms appear, stop treatment and consult a doctor.

As an alternative to seborrhoeic dermatitis shampoo and essential oils, you can use homeopathic remedies to treat the skin condition.

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Susan Ehlers

Susan Ehlers

Susan was born and raised in Seattle, where she studied Biology. Now she works as a health and nutrition coach. In her free time she enjoys canoeing and hiking together with her husband.
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