Sometimes an itchy, flaky scalp indicates merely dry skin. Other times, it may signal an underlying skin issue like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, or a fungus called Malassezia. In each case, dermatologists often treat the problem with best medicated shampoos. But which type of medicated shampoo should you use for each type of scalp issue?
Top 10 best medicated shampoos in 2021 for UK
Read on to know more about the best medicated shampoos available on the market right now.
1. Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that fights dandruff effectively. This powerful medicated shampoo kills the fungus that causes dandruff and simultaneously imparts natural proteins to your hair to keep it strong and healthy. It contains a blend of wheat proteins and wheat germ oil that keeps your hair soft and shiny. It alleviates itchiness and flakiness on the scalp within a single hair wash. The recommended usage of this shampoo is only twice a week.
- True to its claims
- Suitable for all hair types
- Rich lather
- Safe for color-treated and chemically-processed hair.
- Can dry out your hair
Neutrogena’s tried-and-true T-Gel has over 1,000 five-star reviews on Amazon and is often recommended by dermatologists. “This shampoo contains 1 percent coal tar and is formulated with conditioners to reduce scale and symptoms while leaving hair manageable,” explains Shah. It’s no wonder people swear by the stuff.
3. Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo
Sometimes the best way to go back to nature is by making sure your products are chemical free. Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo relies on nature’s botanicals to bring you a natural shampoo free of parabens, phthalates, and sulfate. Instead, this shampoo uses a combination of sulfur and salicylic acid to treat mild psoriasis and dermatitis, which ultimately eliminates flakes and itchiness. Added in to soothe and moisturize the scalp are plant-based healers like rosemary, olive, and jojoba oils. If you use this shampoo at least three times a week, the occurrence of flaking, scaling, and itching should be significantly reduced.
4. Biolage Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
This soothing dandruff shampoo combines pyrithione zinc with cooling mint to relieve an irritated scalp while treating the problem at the source. The creamy formula lathers up generously for a deep cleanse, but a little bit goes a long way. “This is hands down the best dandruff shampoo I’ve ever used,” one reviewer wrote. “I get pretty bad dandruff, and it clears up with one shampoo of this. It’s the only shampoo I use anymore because my dandruff comes back if I don’t.”
5. Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2 in 1 Anti Dandruff Shampoo Plus Conditioner
Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control Shampoo is more suitable for everyday use. It is a gentle shampoo & conditioner combo that cleanses the scalp, relieves dandruff, and leaves your hair soft and manageable in a single step.
Neutrogena T/Gel Daily Control 2-on-1 Dandruff Shampoo is a frequent-use formula designed to fight dandruff while ensuring hair is left soft, healthy and detangled. Contains pyrithione zinc to relieve flaking and vitamin E to moisturise the hair and scalp. Wheat proteins nourish and protect locks.
Contains Pyrithinone Zinc 1% w/w. Always read the label. Use only as directed. If symptoms persist see your healthcare professional.
6. Mustela Stelatopia Foam Shampoo
“This shampoo was originally formulated for babies and is extremely gentle,” says Shaurya. Containing only very mild ingredients, it’s a great pick to use when your scalp eczema is flaring, he adds. To the point of being gentle and mild, it’s even approved by the National Eczema Association and is both hypoallergenic and fragrance-free. Also nice: The weightless, mousse-like consistency.
7. Klorane Soothing & Anti-Irritating Shampoo with Peony
If you have scalp issues and dyed hair, turn to this gentle Klorane shampoo with calming zinc. “I have color-treated hair…[and] such sensitive skin, including on my scalp,” an Amazon reviewer said. “Most shampoos cause me to itch and burn — no matter how high quality — but this shampoo hasn’t.”
8. Free & Clear Sensitive Skin Shampoo
Dr. Robyn Gmyrek suggests reaching for a shampoo that’s free of fragrance, gluten and sulfates like this one. Its zinc-infused formula is designed to relieve itchiness and flakiness.
Pharmaceutical Specialties are a new company to me and they would remain new if I hadn’t been recommended the product by a dermatologist. This is both a shame and a surprise as the company was formed in 1974 to “start a company to make better products than were commercially available for people with sensitive skin.” In other words, they are our kind of company. In addition to this shampoo the company manufacture conditioners, sun-creams, moisturizers, shaving creams, cleansers and virtually any other type of personal hygiene product that prove problematic to those of us with sensitive skin.
The shampoo isn’t a dandruff shampoo at all but is “a non-medicated, mild shampoo for sensitive skin and scalp.” I have tagged this as a shampoo for dry scalp induced dandruff. However, anyone who suffers from dandruff needs to use a gentle shampoo in between their medicated washes. I myself only use a medicated shampoo once or twice a month as part of my dandruff control regime and the rest of the time I use as gentle a shampoo as possible. I’ve even tried no poo recently. But does is this shampoo gentle enough for us to recommend?
The bottle looks pretty clinical and if I were to offer advice to this company, I would improve their branding a touch. It looks like it’s been designed by dermatologists. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing but there are world class teams out there who specialize in branding. Anyhow, the shampoo itself is totally clear, has no detectable smell and surprisingly washed my hair really well. I say surprisingly because quite often the gentlest shampoos perform poorly. Afterward, my hair felt really soft too. On closer inspection, the company have added Panthenol to the shampoo. Panthenol is fast becoming one of my favorite ingredients in shampoos such are the benefits with seemingly no drawbacks. But surely a high performing shampoo simply has to be full of contact irritants or allergens?
In a word, no. There is one known irritant in this shampoo – Sodium Hydroxide. You may know this ingredient as Lye or Caustic Soda! You might also know this ingredient as soap. Soap isn’t really a soap unless it’s made with Sodium Hydroxide. If you do react to it or it dries your scalp then I would avoid. However, for the vast majority of us, this should prove no problem at all.
The rest of the ingredients are an innovative mix of cleansers, foaming agents, and preservatives that have been designed for us sensitive skin sufferers. And they work very very well. Quite why all shampoos aren’t created with this level of thought is beyond me. I almost had a heavy heart using the shampoo as it is so gentle, performs so well and is so much better than 99.9% of so-called gentle shampoos out there.
If you use a gentle shampoo as part of your dandruff control regime make it this one. Outstanding.
9. Head & Shoulders Classic Clean Dandruff Shampoo
Of all the dandruff shampoos recommended by the dermatologists we tapped, Head & Shoulders was the most popular pick. While the brand makes dandruff shampoos in plenty of varieties, this simple, no-frills option is a great place to start. It contains pyrithione zinc, which has been found to help kill fungus and bacteria on the scalp, says Debra Jaliman, MD, board-certified dermatologist and author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist. She recommends using the anti-dandruff shampoo daily at first to combat flakes, then gradually re-introducing your regular shampoo when symptoms subside.
10. DHS Zinc Shampoo
Powered by 2 percent pyrithione zinc to help control dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis symptoms, this shampoo is a favorite of Mohid’s because it’s both affordable and available OTC. “For people who experience seborrheic dermatitis on the face or chest it can also be used as a wash and comes in a body wash option as well,” she says.
How to choose (and use) the best medicated shampoos
Scan for active ingredients: Pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, salicylic acid, and coal tar can all work to reduce dandruff, says Dr. Zeichner, but you may need to experiment a bit to find the one your scalp reacts to the best.
Note your hair type: The ingredients listed above are effective at banishing dandruff, but can sometimes feel a bit stripping if your locks need extra moisture. Especially for those with dry, coarse, curly, kinky, or coiled hair types, look for ingredients that will also hydrate the scalp and strands, like shea butter, coconut oil, and aloe vera.
Wash effectively: For best results, rub your dandruff shampoo into your scalp with your fingertips, letting it sit for at least five minutes before rinsing, Dr. Zeichner says. Make sure you pick up an anti-dandruff conditioner, too. Once you rinse, some of the dandruff-fighting ingredients are left behind to continue working, so using a regular conditioner might actually buff those active ingredients away, he notes.
Mind your frequency: Start by washing at least twice a week, says Dr. Fusco. Take note of how your scalp and hair looks and feels. If you don’t see results, work up to three or four days if needed. You might even find that you get the best results by washing daily—it all depends on how your scalp reacts to the product.
If you’ve tried medicated shampoos or other home remedies and still don’t find relief, make an appointment with a doctor. There are many prescription-strength shampoos that contain higher concentrations of active ingredients you may try.
There are also other treatments, like antifungal medications, that may ease more severe cases of seborrheic dermatitis.