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Ketoconazole for dandruff | Ketoconazole Shampoo & Oil

Ketoconazole is an antifungal agent which came into medical use in 1981. It is an imidazole compound and like other antifungals of this group, has a wide spectrum of use. It not only comes in the form of oral medicine but is also available in creams, gels and shampoo formulations.

4 min read
Ketoconazole for dandruff | Ketoconazole Shampoo & Oil
Medically Reviewed by Dr. Akshi Pandita, MD, Reviewed on 25th January 2021

You’re not alone if you are struggling with hair loss and dandruff. Dandruff is a common scalp problem wherein the dry skin flakes off in small whitish/oily pieces. According to the American Academy of Dermatology 80 million Americans suffer from hair loss and thinning*. Similar numbers exist worldwide.

Causes of dandruff

Dandruff can be due to dry scalp or seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis is a troublesome condition wherein the scalp is infected with fungal colonies by a fungus called Malassezia. Excess skin oil (sebum) contributes to dandruff too. Men who are post-pubertal age with poor hygiene are susceptible.

Men are more prone to dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis than women due to the larger size of the oil glands on the scalp that produce more sebum*. The male hormone (androgen) is responsible for these oil glands that become overactive during puberty.  Overactive oil glands along with poor hygiene and fungal colonization result in dandruff.

Other factors contributing to dandruff can be nutritional deficiencies, genetics, stress, immunity and environmental factors.Other skin conditions like psoriasis can also mimic dandruff and it is, therefore, necessary to consult a specialist. Fortunately, products containing ketoconazole help in dealing with these important issues.

Also read: Kaya Kalpa Oil to fight dandruff

What is ketoconazole?

Ketoconazole is an antifungal agent which came into medical use in 1981. It is an imidazole compound and like other antifungals of this group, has a wide spectrum of use. It not only comes in the form of the oral medicine but is also available in creams, gels and shampoo formulations.

How does ketoconazole work?

Ketoconazole acts by inhibiting fungal cell growth. Other agents like salicylic acid, coal tar, and zinc pyrithione are also used for the treatment of dandruff, alone or in combination forms. Also, a small study (conducted on 15 subjects) suggested that ketoconazole promotes hair growth or reduced hair loss. For better understanding of the mode of action of ketoconazole, refer to the image below. This image summarises the causes of flaky, itchy and oily scalp. Ketoconazole not only targets the fungal colonization, but also works on the oil buildup on the scalp.

The concentrations available for ketoconazole shampoo are 1% and 2%.  2% should be used under medical guidance. While 2% is prescription strength, 1% is available in the market and pharmacies. Fortunately, 1% ketoconazole shampoos help in dealing with not only dandruff but other important issues like hair loss.

Benefits of using 1% ketoconazole shampoo

  • The shampoo not only fights dandruff, but an ample amount of evidence suggests that it also reduces hair loss by promoting hair growth.
  • There is no direct absorption of ketoconazole into the bloodstream, meaning its antifungal properties work only on the scalp.
  • The shampoo itself is sufficient to treat dandruff without having to purchase another shampoo.
  • The shampoo is a no-fuss mechanism of application, just like your regular shampoo it has to be applied twice a week only.
  • The associated symptoms such as itching is also taken care of with the shampoo, thus, saving the embarrassment of itching and flaking of the scalp in public.

Ketoconazole shampoo instructions

The duration of treatment is 6-8 weeks when using shampoo. The frequency of application varies between 2 to 3 times a week depending on the severity of the problem. Apply the shampoo on a damp scalp and lather it. Let it soak in for 2-3 minutes before rinsing. Follow it up with your regular conditioner or zinc pyrithione based anti-dandruff conditioner. The exact method and frequency of use can be designed and explained by a specialist doctor as well if needed. Visible results can be appreciated within 2-4 weeks of using the shampoo.

Ketoconazole shampoo side effects

The possible side effect of KETOCONAZOLE can be an allergic reaction, redness, irritated skin and small bumps on the scalp.If during course with ketoconazole, dandruff worsens or rashes appear, it is important to stop the treatment.

If the skin on the scalp is broken or inflamed, the product should not be used.

Ketoconazole is contraindicated in age below 12 years.


Does this shampoo help with flaky dandruff and the itching associated with it?

Ketoconazole 1% shampoo is an effective first-line treatment for flaky and itchy scalp. Visible results can be appreciated if used with the proper method.

Does ketoconazole 1% shampoo help with hair fall?

Yes, not only does the shampoo prevent hair fall due to dandruff, it also helps with hair thinning problems in men.

Does ketoconazole 1% shampoo work for mild flaky dandruff?

Ketoconazole 1% shampoo works very well for mild flaky dandruff.

Can this shampoo be combined with other regular shampoo?

It is advisable to use this shampoo for the treatment duration as prescribed and then shift back to your routine once the problem is eradicated.

Does 1% Ketoconazole shampoo take care of oily scalp?

Yes, it does.

Can ketoconazole shampoo be combined with a conditioner?

The shampoo can be combined with a conditioner that contains shea butter, argan oil for better results

Can this shampoo be used on treated hair?

Yes, the shampoo can be safely used on treated hair.

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