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Selsun shampoo

Written by Healthwords's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 25.04.2023 | 2 min read

The active ingredient present in Selsun shampoo is a medication called selenium sulphide. It is effective in treating itching, flaking, or scaling of the skin due to conditions such as dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. Selenium sulphide has antibacterial and mild anti-fungal properties. It also has an effect on reducing irritation and slowing down the production of skin cells and excess natural oil (sebum) on the scalp which can cause dandruff.

Who is it for?

Selsun shampoo can be used to treat simple dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp in patients over the age of five. Selsun aims to control symptoms of dryness, itching, and scaling of the scalp. The shampoo must be applied twice a week for two weeks to control the condition then once a week for two weeks.

Before applying Selsun shampoo to your scalp, ensure your hair is thoroughly wet. Rub in enough shampoo for a lather to form that covers your scalp and continue for 2-3 minutes prior to rinsing your hair. If after 4 weeks of treatment you find no benefit, speak to your pharmacist or doctor. Selsun shampoo is for external use only and should be kept away from your eyes.

How does it work?

There are two conditions the treatment is working on. Firstly, seborrheic dermatitis is a common inflammatory skin condition affecting the scalp characterised by scaling and itching. Inflammation can occur when there is presence of a type of fungus called dermatophytes. The shampoo works to get rid of these fungal elements by breaking them down.

Secondly, dandruff can present when there is overproduction of our natural oil sebum, blocking the hair follicles and creating a greasy look to the hair. Selsun shampoo works by reducing the speed of production of skin cells on the scalp and reducing the greasiness of the scalp which contributes to dandruff. It also helps control the symptoms of itching and scaling associated with dandruff.

Pharmacist recommended products

Should anyone avoid using it?

Do not apply Selsun shampoo if you are under the age of five or if you have previously had an allergic reaction to selenium sulphide or any other ingredients present in Selsun. Do not allow any contact with broken or severely inflamed skin, and like most shampoo – please avoid your eyes.

Are there any side-effects?

Side effects with the use of the shampoo are uncommon. Milder symptoms include hair loss or local irritation (some patients describe these symptoms as a burning sensation), if you experience these then stop using the treatment and seek advice from your doctor. Slight hair colour changes and dryness of the scalp may also occur though can be avoided or minimised by washing the hair after treatment.

If you notice any signs of an allergic reaction such as a new rash, swelling of the airways or face, difficulty breathing – you should call the emergency services immediately.

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