The People's Perspective on Medicine

Dandruff Shampoo Is Excellent for Eczema

Eczema can be difficult to manage, as it tends to return after the course of treatment is completed. A simple remedy offers surprising success. 

Atopic dermatitis, also known as eczema, can be frustrating. It may recur many times in a year, and although certain conditions may be more likely to bring it on, sometimes it just show up with no rhyme or reason.

Prescription treatments for eczema are often effective, but they can also be quite expensive and they may have adverse effects. The most common treatments are topical corticosteroid creams that calm inflammation. However, long-term use can thin the skin.

That is why we get excited when someone suggests a simple, inexpensive remedy that helps reduce the symptoms of atopic dermatitis-red, itchy skin that is easily irritated. It may appear dry or scaly as well as red. Because it is so itchy, there is a tremendous temptation to scratch, which exposes the skin to infection. This reader has found an over-the-counter product that can be used “off-label” to ease the itch and the redness.

Treating Eczema:

Q. I have dealt with atopic dermatitis for over ten years. Several trips to dermatologists and multiple creams, lotions and sprays later, I was still getting no relief. The only thing that helped was light box therapy, but it was expensive and very inconvenient. It involved driving to the dermatologist’s office three times a week.

When my symptoms returned after six months, my sister-in-law suggested I try Selsun Blue Shampoo. She said my brother-in-law had great results for his skin condition by simply washing his body with Selsun Blue once a day. Two months later, my rashes are GONE!

Selsun Blue Shampoo for Skin Problems:

A. Readers have been telling us for years that the original formula Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo can be helpful for the redness and blemishes brought on by rosacea. The active ingredient in the shampoo, selenium sulfide, may help control the Demodex skin mite population that triggers the inflammation associated with rosacea. People use the shampoo to wash their faces gently.

You are the first one to suggest that Selsun Blue might also be helpful against atopic dermatitis (eczema). Some research suggests that low selenium levels in the body may be associated with this skin condition (Pharmazie, May, 2010). German researchers suspect Malassezia yeast on the skin as a prime driver of head and neck atopic dermatitis (Nenoff et al, Hautarzt, June 2015). The selenium sulfide in Selsun Blue shampoo works very well against this type of yeast overgrowth.

Climber’s Chalk:

Sometimes what helps one person is completely wrong for the next guy. We recently heard from a climber that applying a little climber’s chalk (magnesium carbonate) to her hands reversed her eczema. She noted, however, that many climbers complain that climber’s chalk aggravates their atopic dermatitis.

Revised 5/31/18

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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I haven’t tried Selsum Blue on my eczema, but I had really bad eczema on my hands and feet and had another generic dandruff shampoo on hand, and started using it as a lotion once or twice a day. After 5 months of breakouts, I am finally clearing up. I am still using the eczema creams after I put the shampoo on, but what a difference.

After reading the above experienes, I am going to try the Selsun Blue, but it is unclear to me
what the process is. Do you put it on in the shower and then wash it off? If so, how long do you leave it on before rinsing?
Thanks for your help!

I use Head and Shoulders shampoo to bathe my entire body in the shower. It does not help my eczema in any way. I’ll try the Selsun Blue. Thanks

It has to contain Selenium in order to work. Good luck!

I had Psoriasis on my face. The Skin specialist used laser treatment on me & after many treatments it wasn’t helping. I read on Pinterest about Sesun blue shampoo so bought some to try it. It worked a dream. My friends & family now compliment me on how nice my skin looks !

My almost 45 year old daughter’s hands broke out in red rashes. She tried gloves which didn’t help and blamed the red hands on stress from a difficult marriage and job. Later her doctor took her off of gluten because of digestive problems and her hands cleared up and have stayed just fine.

My adult son has celiac and often suffers from eczema, similar to athlete’s foot. I suggested that he try using generic dandruff shampoo as a bath wash, the type containing 1% pyrithione zinc. It cleared up his eczema and has kept it away. This was just a hunch on my part, so it’s good to know it works for others.

Seborrheic dermatitis seems to be in my family. Had a wonderful dermatologist back then, this was about 20-25 years ago. He made his own cream. It did contain selsun in it. Work very well. He died, and didn’t leave his formula to anyone. But I have used over the counter dander shampoo with Selsun every since. Works just as well.

Selsun Blue, Nizoral and all the others control fungi and yeasts. As a podiatrist, I have noticed long time, up to 6 months, treatments for fungal nails with anti-fungal oral medication…we are talking, Itraconazole (and Ketoconazole, while bad for the liver, was excellent, and is the active agent in Nizoral shampoo), Terbinafine, and Nystatin…clear all kinds of eczema, even psoriasis and acne.

MDs are so sold on steroids and anti-biotics that they forget that fungi and yeasts are pathogens, and not just for the immune compromised, but women on the pill and all the sugar addicts out there. I suspect many ‘auto-immune’ conditions are occult fungal infections. In the US it seems hard to get anti-fungal oral medication, but in many countries they are over the counter. Nystatin is one of the oldest, most specific and has very few resistance issues, yet difficult to obtain a prescription in the US. OTC thru out South America and the Middle East, and Poles and Russians get it via pharmacist’s prescription In Australia, too, hard to get from an MD, and podiatrists don’t have prescribing rights here.

I’ve used Selsun Blue for several years and find that it helps Rosacea. Make sure that you get the one that is medicated. It contains selenium sulfide.

Selenium Sulfide shampoo – Selsun – or it’s store brand copycats – is impossible to use for anyone sensitive to odors/fragrances. Because selenium sulfide has a potent, sulfury scent, the manufacturers try to cover it up with an incredibly high level of fragrance. You are literally reeking of perfume even after you towel off. I tried more than one of their various offered scents, and each was like being dunked in a vat of vaguely sulfury perfume. Maybe the People’s Pharmacy folks could come out with their own version with no scent. I haven’t found any unscented – or ultra-low scented versions – online or anywhere else. I’d like to try an all over hair and body wash but it’s just impossible with the current store offerings. I know there are plenty of people used to using powerfully scented products, but there are plenty of us who can’t.

What about Psorisis? Does it help with that?

I have seborrheic dermatitis on my face. My doctor prescribed different creams that didn’t work. I heard about TGel therapeutic shampoo (original formula). I started using a small amount in my facial cleanser. My face is clear and my doctor asked what am I doing?

A few year ago I saw a similar article in your blog and after trying Selsun Blue for about a couple of months I broke out with a severe case of eczema. I don’t really know if the two were related but I stopped using the product.

I am now being treated for sun damage to my skin and the dermatologist is trying different types of shampoo and skin products.

As usual, the “approved” treatment from doctors, usually a topical steroid, involves something that only treats symptoms temporally, usually is prescribed (in support of big pharm), and has side effects (especially when used long term). Selenium sulfide is inexpensive, more effective, works quickly, and is much longer lasting if not permanent.

I use head n shoulders a a body wash 2x per week and it keeps the stuff under my breast and pits under control. For flair ups, apply before shower, a thin layer. Then was off in shower
After shower if you still itch, take a cold damp (not wet) wash cloth a sprinkle tea tree oil this really helps.

I have a friend who puts the shampoo on her back after shower and it works great.

I heard about using Selsun Blue to treat eczema . I purchased it about 2 weeks for my son because he was diagnosed with it and the prescription wasn’t working. He has been using it as a body wash and it had cleared up. We just use an oil to place back in the skin.

I don’t have excema but I do have keratosis polaris (chicken skin) and granuloma annulare. I’ve never used dandruff shampoo for anything but I’m going to buy a bottle and see if this helps my skin conditions. Thanks for the tip!

Karatosis Pilaris aka ‘chicken skin’ is a sign of a deficiency of vitamin A. Take 5,000iu daily for 90 days is under 70 kilos, and 10,000 iu daily for 90 days if over 70 kilos. This is common knowledge in Europe.

My doctor gave me a prescription for ammonia lactate 12% but also told me to use Selsun Blue as well as stay away from yeast and dairy products

I eliminated gluten from my diet. After three weeks, I noticed my break-outs were gone completely. They did not return for four months; that is when I resumed eating gluten, and soon experienced daily break-outs. Has anyone else experienced this?

Yeah, I experience the same when I keep away from gluten AND yeast, too

I am a 55 year old male. I use dandruff shampoo on my groin area and feet to control fungus and it works well. My shower routine is to use it on hair, face, ears, back, groin area and feet. It controls all the various conditions referred to in your article, as well as atletes foot and groin fungal oder. Head and shoulders seems to work as well as selsun blue.

I do not know if I had Rosacea or what. But I had bumps on my head and shoulders that itched badly. I bought some Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo, put it on the “bumps,”and let it set for about five minutes while I washed everything else. In 3 days the bumps were gone. Thanks for the article.

Yes, I inadvertently found Selsun Blue to help with the ‘shingles’ I’d developed a year ago. But I couldn’t count on it. Sometimes it helped, sometimes it didn’t.

When I left the hospital for rehab. after by-pass surgery, I was presented with a small tub of medical-related products. Among them were two large tubes of ConvaTec Aloe Vesta Protective Ointment (3 Protect). I decided to try it on my dry, scaly forehead, and within two days, my forehead had regained a nice, healthy look. The ointment’s active ingredient is Petrolatum (43%). I use a bad of it twice-a-day.I suspect that when my hospital-provided tubes run out, I can just use petroleum jelly.

I think you are the best thing since sliced bread. I read and use many of your suggestions and recommendations. You are sanity in the hysterical drug based panic we have been offered as the route to a healthy lifestyle.
Thank you.

Agree completely.

I tend to have eczema develop in a circle around my ears and along the hairline on the back of my neck. Many years ago a holistic doctor in Springfield, MO, suggested taking supplemental Beta Carotene. If I take one caplet a day of Beta Carotene the eczema is minimized.

Thanks for the tip. I’ll give Selsun Blue a try.

My older daughter developed ringworm in High School after working Summers at a local greenhouse. After many visits to the family doctor, he suggested switching from shower gel to Selsun Blue. Within a week she was clear and has used it ever since. She seems prone to the fungus when ever she gets super sweaty for extended periods, but this clears it up every time!

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