What Is Ketoconazole Shampoo?

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  • Written By: Meshell Powell
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 September 2019
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Ketoconazole shampoo contains an antifungal medication and is used to treat a skin condition known as tinea versicolor and to control dandruff. This shampoo is available in both over the counter and prescription formulations and may be used as a body wash in some instances. Possible side effects of using ketoconazole shampoo include changes in hair texture, skin irritation, or hair loss. A rare but potentially fatal allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may sometimes occur when using this medicated shampoo. Any individualized questions or concerns about the use of ketoconazole shampoo should be discussed with a doctor or other medical professional.

The primary use of ketoconazole shampoo is to treat dandruff. When used for this purpose, the shampoo is applied liberally to the scalp so that there is enough lather to also saturate the hair. The shampoo is then massaged into the scalp before being rinsed with warm water. This process may be repeated if directed by a doctor. It is important to follow the specific directions given by the doctor or medical staff when using this treatment method.


A fungal infection known as tinea versicolor may sometimes be treated with ketoconazole shampoo. Tinea versicolor causes a rash to develop on affected areas of skin and may lead to itching and pigment changes to the skin. When using ketoconazole shampoo for this purpose, the shampoo is applied to the affected area as well as the surrounding skin. The shampoo should be rinsed off after about five minutes. Special dosage or application instructions may be provided by a doctor and should be followed as directed.

The majority of patients who use ketoconazole shampoo do not experience negative side effects. Those who do experience side effects normally report that they are mild and do not affect the ability to use the medication. Some of the most frequently reported symptoms include temporary skin irritation at the site of application, changes in hair, texture, or mild to moderate hair loss. If any of these symptoms become severe or particularly bothersome, a doctor should be consulted for further medical evaluation.

Occasionally, a potentially life-threatening type of allergic reaction known as anaphylaxis may occur after using ketoconazole shampoo. Symptoms of anaphylaxis may include facial swelling, chest pain, or difficulty breathing. These symptoms should be treated as a medical emergency, as permanent brain damage, or even death, can occur within a matter of minutes without immediate medical attention.


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Post 3

@fBoyle-- Ketoconazole works for most people. If you have dandruff, you should give it a try. Many dandruff shampoos contain ketoconazole these days. Dandruff can have different causes but fungi is a main cause.

I had dandruff for a very long time. I tried most anti-dandruff shampoos on the market. The only type that has worked for me is ketoconazole shampoo. The shampoo makes my hair and scalp a bit dry, but it's not a big deal.

Post 2

@fBoyle-- I'm not a doctor and you should probably ask your doctor about this.

However, I used a ketoconazole shampoo in the past for a scalp fungal infection. My scalp was oily, itchy and flaky. My doctor told me that this shampoo will treat it. I started using the shampoo right away and the symptoms really did go away. But after two weeks, the symptoms started to come back even though I was still using the shampoo.

I don't know if everyone will have the same experience with this medicated shampoo but it only worked temporarily for me. I did not treat my scalp with anything else, and the infection cleared up on its own after some time.

Post 1

Does ketoconazole shampoo really work for dandruff caused by a fungal infection? Do I have to use it regularly? Will the symptoms return when I stop using the shampoo?

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