What is Zinc Pyrithione Shampoo?

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  • Written By: Larry Ray Palmer
  • Edited By: Angela B.
  • Last Modified Date: 07 November 2019
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Zinc pyrithione shampoo is a medicine commonly used to treat a variety of skin conditions affecting the scalp. In medical terminology, this formulation is known as an antiseborrheic, which means it is useful in the treatment of conditions that produce dry or scaling skin. It also has antifungal and antibacterial properties that make it effective for relieving the symptoms of scalp conditions that may include dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, eczema, ringworm and fungus, as well as other skin problems. Using shampoo containing zinc pyrithione as a treatment for these conditions requires regular use over an extended period of time to be effective.

Zinc pyrithione shampoo is considered a safe treatment for most people suffering from dry skin, dandruff or similar skin conditions, and it is available over the counter in the United States. While there have been reported cases of minor allergies, these reactions are usually mild and the adverse effects subside after discontinuing use of the product. There also have been documented cases of interactions between other medicines and zinc pyrithione shampoos, though the actual risk is minimal.


Shampoo containing zinc pyrithione is not typically recommended for use by children. In some cases, a pediatrician may recommend it for temporary use to alleviate extreme skin conditions, but this would be a rare event. Even though it is considered to be a safe product for adult use, the chemical composition of the shampoo makes it a bit harsh for the sensitive skin of children.

The key component of zinc pyrithione shampoo is zinc pyrithione. This zinc-based compound is used in a variety of applications in which antibacterial or antifungal properties are required, and shampoo for the treatment of dandruff is just one of those applications. The exact source of zinc pyrithione's antifungal properties is subject to further research, but it is believed to be inherent to its ability to block the transportation of resources with the cellular membrane or its ability to create an iron-deprived state for the skin.

While it is necessary to use zinc pyrithione shampoo for extended periods of time to see optimal results, many people will start to experience some relief from their skin conditions early in the regimen. These people should not be tempted to stop the treatment until they have run the full course. Particularly in the case of fungal infections, terminating treatment too soon can give the condition a chance to come back with a greater resistance to future treatment with zinc pyrithione shampoo.


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Post 2

I tried a zinc pyrithione shampoo to treat the strange, itchy rash on my scalp. I had small, circular red bumps that itched and flaked off. I know they resulted in dandruff, but some other type of condition was causing them.

The zinc pyrithione shampoo took care of whatever it was. I decided to try it before going to a dermatologist, and I'm glad I did, because it saved me a ton of money.

The shampoo smelled kind of like my grandmother's old musty closet. I had to use it for two nights in a row, and it made my pillowcase smell funny, too.

I was glad when I could start using regular shampoo again. I hoped that people walking past me in the street couldn't smell me.

Post 1

I used a zinc pyrithione shampoo to get rid of my persistent dandruff. The consistency was a bit like thick syrup, and it had a strange brown color.

It even smelled a bit like pine sap. The stuff coated my scalp and hung on tight. I had to leave it on my head for several minutes to let the zinc pyrithione soak in and do its job.

Even after I rinsed it out and applied conditioner, the smell lingered. It wasn't until I washed my hair again with a good-smelling shampoo that the odor went away.

Nevertheless, the smell was worth the results. My dandruff went away and did not return for many months, and then I used the shampoo again and got relief once more. The itching and flaking seemed to wash away with the shampoo.

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