Selenium Sulfide Shampoo | Uses, Side effects & Brands

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Selenium sulfide is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula SeS2 and has antifungal properties. Selenium Sulfide Shampoo is the first line of defence against dandruff, fungal skin infections, and scalp seborrheic dermatitis (a health condition that causes dry, red, scaly, and skin that is itchy). It is available both on a doctor’s prescription and over the counter medicine.

Selenium sulfide functions in two ways. It works as a moderate antifungal, preventing the yeast that causes skin infections from developing and spreading. It also encourages your body to produce less dead skin, which aids in the treatment of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp.

What does Selenium Sulfide do?

Selenium sulfide appears to exert a cytostatic effect on the epidermis and follicular epithelium, lowering corneocyte formation and flaking. It has antibacterial, anti-seborrheic, and modest antifungal activity, which contributes to its efficacy. In the treatment of tinea capitis, selenium sulfide also decreases the spread of viable spores.

Selenium Sulfide Shampoo Brands

On the scalp, selenium sulphide 1 % and 2.5 % strengths are used to help treat the symptoms of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. On the body, selenium sulphide 2.5 % strength is used to treat tinea versicolor (a type of fungus infection of the skin). Some commonly used Selenium sulfide shampoo brands are as follows:

Various uses of Selenium Sulfide Shampoo

For the treatment of Seborrheic Dermatitis

Seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp is one of the most common dermatoses and has long been thought to be a chronic condition that, even when cleared, necessitates additional preventive therapy to avoid recurrence of the scaliness. For centuries, sulfur was the drug of choice for treating sebaceous gland diseases. There is no scientific pharmacological explanation for why sulfur is beneficial for sebaceous disorders, except that it definitely helps the lesions of seborrheic dermatitis fade.

Sulfur ointments containing resorcin or salicylic acid were the standard forms of local treatment for seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp until three years ago. The majority of patients, particularly women, were vehemently opposed to the use of greasy ointments on their hair and scalp. Despite the fact that sulphur ointments aided seborrhea, they were typically abandoned before their full benefits were achieved. Selenium sulfide soothes scratching, flaking, irritation, and redness on the scalp.

For the treatment of Hyperkeratosis

Hyperkeratosis can be hereditary or acquired. Clinically, it appears as thickened skin, most commonly on the palms and soles. Pathologic changes in the affected skin show consistent orthokeratosis of the stratum corneum. Keratolytics and retinoids are currently available as topical treatments; other local therapeutic modalities that have been initiated include physical debridement, topical corticosteroids, and phototherapy (using topical psoralen and ultraviolet A phototherapy). Selenium is a nonmetallic essential element, and a lack of it can lead to systemic diseases. Excessive ingestion, on the other hand, has been linked to acute and chronic toxicity.

Selenium sulfide, a water-insoluble selenium salt, is a safe active ingredient in foam, lotion, and shampoo; it has been used to treat both seborrheic dermatitis and tinea versicolor. In a research conducted, three patients were successfully treated with topical selenium sulfide (as a 2.5% lotion/shampoo or a 2.75 % foam) for either congenital or acquired hyperkeratosis, particularly of the palms and/or soles. All of these people had a quick, complete, and long-lasting response to treatment, with no negative side effects. Finally, it was recommend that topical selenium sulfide be added to the treatment arsenal for hyperkeratosis, particularly in the palms and soles.

Adjunctive therapy for Tinea Capitis

In the treatment of tinea capitis, selenium sulphide lotion used as a shampoo has been found to be an effective supplementary agent to griseofulvin. A study of 16 children with Trichophyton tonsurans infections found that 15 had negative fungal cultures two weeks after starting a regimen of daily oral griseofulvin and twice-weekly selenium sulphide shampooing. In vitro testing demonstrates that selenium sulphide is sporicidal. It is hypothesised that using selenium sulphide reduces the chance of infectious spores spreading to other people.

Side effects

Side effects that don’t usually require immediate medical attention (but should be informed to the doctor if they continue to exist and cause trouble):

  • A failure to heal the skin condition
  • Skin irritation
  • Hair discoloration
  • Scalp irritation
  • Dry skin
  • Oily or dry hair/scalp
  • Temporary hair loss may occur

It is uncommon for this medicine to cause a severe allergic reaction. However, seek medical attention right away if you detect any of the following signs of a major allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (particularly of the face/tongue/throat), extreme dizziness, or difficulty breathing.

How to use Selenium Sulfide Shampoo

Follow the Selenium Sulfide Shampoo (Selsun Blue) instructions on the label or as directed by your doctor. Do not use the medications for an extended period of time. Some brands necessitate a shake before use. Examine your product packaging to determine whether your brand needs to be shaken. Remove any jewellery before using this medication to avoid damage. Because this drug can irritate your eyes, nose, and mouth, as well as any areas of broken or inflammatory skin, avoid contact with those places. If this happens, thoroughly rinse the area with water. If you have any questions about how to use this medication properly, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

Selenium sulfide for dandruff

  • Before using this medication, wet the hair and scalp with lukewarm water.
  • Make a good foamy lather with proper medication on your scalp (1 or 2 teaspoons). Keep the foamy base to rest on your scalp for 2 to 3 minutes before you rinse it off completely.
  • Rinse thoroughly after applying the medication a second time.
  • After you have used this solution on blond or light, dark, or treated chemically (tinted, bleached, permanently waved) hair, wash properly for a minimum of 5 minutes to minimize the risk of discolouration of your hair.
  • After the treatment, wash your hands thoroughly.

Selenium Sulfide for body Tinea Versicolor


Scalp dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis

  • 1% shampoo (over-the-counter): Before using, give the bottle a good shake. Wet your hair, apply SS to the scalp, and gently massage into a rich lather before rinsing thoroughly. Use once or twice a week, or as advised by your healthcare provider.
  • Shampoo: 2.25 % and 2.3 %:  Before using, give the bottle a good shake. Wet your hair, apply SS to the scalp, and gently massage into a rich lather before rinsing thoroughly. To keep symptoms under control, use twice a week for two weeks to control symptoms, then less frequently or as directed by your provider.
  • 2.5 % of the Lotion: Before lotion usage, shake this bottle very well. Wet your hair and apply 1–2 teaspoons of selenium sulfide to your scalp. Allow 2 to 3 minutes for the medication to sit on the scalp before properly rinsing and repeating. To keep symptoms under control, use twice a week for two weeks to control symptoms, then less frequently or as directed by your provider.

Tinea versicolor (fungal skin infection)

  • Shampoo: 2.25 % and 2.3 %:  Before using, give the bottle a good shake. Wet the skin and massage SS into a thorough lather on the afflicted area(s). Allow 10 minutes for SS to absorb into the skin before completely rinsing. Do this once a day for seven days, or as directed by your healthcare provider.
  • The Lotion in the form of 2.5 %: Before giving this lotion usage, shake the lotion bottle well. Apply a tiny amount of water to the affected area(s) and lather with SS. Allow 10 minutes for SS to absorb into the skin before completely rinsing. Do this once a day for seven days, or as directed by your healthcare provider.


Q. Do you need a prescription for Selenium sulfide shampoo?

To treat dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp, use selenium sulfide shampoo twice a week for two weeks, then less frequently after that to keep your symptoms under control. If you’re treating tinea versicolor with selenium shampoo, you should use it once a day for 7 days. Selenium sulfide is not intended to replace your regular daily shampoo, and using it more frequently than recommended may cause skin irritation.

Q. Is Selenium sulfide good for hair?

Selenium sulfide is a chemical compound that is frequently used in the treatment of dandruff. It’s an antifungal that also treats dandruff scratching, flaking, scaling, and dry scalp skin.

Q. Is it okay to use Selsun Blue every day?

Topical shampoo containing selenium sulfide should not be used on a daily basis. Follow the instructions on the packaging or the advice of your doctor.

Q. Do the Head and Shoulders have Selenium sulfide?

To combat the toughest dandruff, Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength Shampoo contains selenium sulfide.

Q. Does Selenium sulfide shampoos help with the problem of lice?

No, the shampoo is not suitable for use against lice because it contains nothing that will help to combat the problem.

Q. How often should you use a Selenium sulfide shampoo?

1% Shampoo (OTC): Use at least twice a week, or as directed by your healthcare provider. Selenium Sulphide shampoo  2.25% and 2.3%: Use two times a week for 2 weeks to stop symptoms, then fewer times or as prescribed by your doctor to control the symptoms. Lotion 2.5%: Use two times a week for 2 weeks for symptom control, then fewer times or as directed by your doctor to stop symptoms.

Q. What are the risks of using Selenium sulfide?

  • Selenium sulfide can have serious health consequences. For certain groups, the threat may be even greater. If you are concerned, speak with your doctor or pharmacist about other options.
  • It is only meant for external use. Only apply selenium sulfide to the skin or scalp. Make sure it doesn’t come into contact with your eyes, mouth, nose, or genitals. You should also avoid using it on broken or inflamed skin. When applied to these areas, it can cause severe skin irritation. If you experience an allergic reaction, discontinue the use of selenium sulfide and contact your provider.
  • When provided to a pregnant woman, it is unknown whether this product can impact reproduction capability or cause foetal harm. As a result, pregnant and breastfeeding women should see their doctor before beginning the use of Selenium Sulfide Shampoo.

Q. How to store Selenium sulfide shampoo?

  • Keep it at room temperature. Do not freeze
  • Heat should be avoided.
  • Keep the lid firmly closed.
  • Store in a cool, dry place. Do not keep it in the bathroom.
  • Keep it out of reach of kids and pets.

Disclaimer- The information provided here is based on general knowledge, articles, research publications etc and we do not claim the authenticity of any of the information provided above. We do not claim or suggest/advise any medical, therapeutic, health or nutritional benefits of Selenium Sulfide. We do not supply or promote our Selenium Sulfide product for the applications which are covered by valid patents and which are not approved by the FDA.

Other Articles on Selenium Sulfide:- 

Selenium Sulfide Compound | How does it work & its uses

Macsen Labs is a manufacturer and supplier of several grades of Selenium Sulfide such as:-

Selenium Sulfide USP

One comment

  • hotshot bald cop

    April 8, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    I was just telling my friend about that.

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