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How Can You Use Dandruff Shampoo to Ease Eczema?

One reader reports washing with Selsun Blue shampoo to ease eczema. This dandruff shampoo inhibits yeast that may contribute to itch and rash.
How Can You Use Dandruff Shampoo to Ease Eczema?
A bottle of Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo

Eczema is a term used to describe skin that is itchy and red. The inflamed areas may show up as dry, cracked skin, or they may have rash-like bumps that weep when they are scratched. Backs of knees and other areas where skin is often flexed are especially prone to the itching or rash. Doctors call this condition atopic dermatitis. They may prescribe a range of medications, from steroid creams to drugs that suppress the immune system. Some readers have found, however, that they can use dandruff shampoo to ease eczema. 

Dandruff Shampoo to Ease Eczema Rash and Itching: 

Q. I read on your website about using Selsun Blue shampoo to ease eczema. Intrigued, I tried it. To my surprise, it has greatly reduced the itching and I now have almost none. This is after many years applying many prescription and non-prescription products. Since I use it on my legs in the shower, it is hard to keep it from washing off.

I’ve searched for an ointment or cream that could be used outside the shower. I wonder if you are aware of such a product.

A. The original Selsun Blue dandruff shampoo contains selenium sulfide. We have heard from many readers that this ingredient can be helpful against rosacea when diluted as a face wash. People rinse it off after washing.

There are prescription-strength (2.25 to 2.5 percent) formulations of selenium sulfide for seborrheic dermatitis and tinea versicolor (a fungal infection of the skin). They need to be rinsed off just like shampoo. If you are getting good results with an OTC product like Selsun Blue, you may find that both safer and more cost effective. 

Most people don’t realize that dandruff shampoo needs to sit on the scalp for at least five minutes before it gets rinsed off. This allows the anti-fungal ingredients to have an effect on the Malassezia yeast that are believed responsible for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. Such yeast also appears to contribute to atopic dermatitis (Mycoses, July 2019). That might be a clue to how you use dandruff shampoo to help ease eczema.

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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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  • Nowicka D & Nawrot U, "Contribution of Malassezia spp. to the development of atopic dermatitis." Mycoses, July 2019. DOI: 10.1111/myc.12913
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