What is Selenium Sulfide Lotion?

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  • Written By: Pamela Pleasant
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 03 September 2019
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Selenium sulfide lotion, which is made by combining sulfur and selenium catenate, is used to treat skin or scalp infections that cause irritation. When it is applied directly to the skin, it helps to reduce or eliminate the symptoms that can accompany certain skin disorders, such as dandruff or dermatitis. This lotion is available as an over-the-counter drug, but for severe skin problems, a medical professional may prescribe a more potent version.

There are many skin disorders that have similar symptoms: seborrhea, psoriasis, and dermatitis can cause red, itchy skin, for example, as well as patches of scaly skin, red bumps, and blisters. As the infection progresses, these symptoms can worsen and this can cause flaking and peeling skin or even dandruff. Selenium sulfide lotion helps to ease the uncomfortable symptoms, and it can also loosen the dead, scaly skin cells so that they can be remove more effectively.

Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection that can discolor and irritate the skin, particularly on the upper arms, legs, chest, or back. Due to an overgrowth of yeast, it can produce pink, brown, or tan patches of scaly, bumpy skin. Exposure to direct sunlight makes these patches more visible. Using selenium sulfide lotion can reduce or eliminate tinea versicolor and return a normal pigmentation to the skin.


This medication should be applied according to the directions or the instructions of a healthcare provider. Overuse can cause discoloration to the skin or hair, or cause dry or oily patches on the skin and temporary hair loss. These side effects can usually be eliminated by reducing the amount of lotion used. Jewelry and clothing can also become discolored if it comes in contact with the medication.

The lotion is only meant to be used externally, and it can be poisonous if swallowed. It can also cause irritation if it should get into the eyes or nose. Bandages, dressings, or any other type of lotion or cosmetic should never be used with the lotion.

Severe allergic reactions can occur while using this medication, which can include blistered, oozing, or raw skin. In rare cases, there can also be dizziness or swelling of the throat and tongue. These symptoms can quickly become life-threatening without medical attention. A medical professional should be consulted before using the lotion to avoid drug interactions or negative side effects.


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