13 Best Medicated Shampoos to Say Goodbye to Scalp Issues

Written by Alvira Dsouza, Hair Expert
Updated on Feb 22, 2024
Medicated Shampoos to Say Goodbye to Scalp Issues
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Medicated shampoos are designed to address various scalp conditions such as dandruff, psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and scalp infections. If you require a solution for such problems along with one that firmly removes impurities, opt for medicated products over store-bought shampoos. These shampoos often contain active ingredients that help alleviate stressful symptoms and promote a healthier scalp. When it comes to selecting the best medicated shampoo, it’s important to consider your specific hair and scalp needs, as well as any underlying conditions you may have. However, to make your job easier, here are some popular options that work wonders for scalp health. Take a peek!

13 Best Medicated Shampoos

For those with dandruff or dry scalp issues - it’s highly unlikely that you have never heard of Nizoral. It is a powerful medicated shampoo that goes beyond symptom relief, targeting the root cause of dandruff by controlling the underlying fungus. Our contributor Dr. Anna Chacon, a board-certified dermatologist and published author, explains that a scalp fungal infection can potentially spread to the face or other areas of the body. If you suspect you have a scalp fungal infection, it's important to seek medical treatment promptly to prevent its spread. This shampoo has been clinically proven to be 10 times more effective than regular dandruff shampoos in combating fungal skin infections. This product requires just twice-weekly use for optimal results. 

  • Controls flaking, scaling, and itching
  • Antifungal Properties
  • Contains Ketoconazole 1%
  • Suitable for all hair types
  • Gentle on color-treated
  • Can use on chemically processed hair
  • Clean, fresh scent
  • May cause mild scalp dryness
  • Best Gentle Shampoo

    Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

    Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
  • An itchy scalp and inflamed skin are hard to fall asleep with; so for long-lasting relief, you can try the Neutrogena T/Gel shampoo. It effectively controls flaking caused by chronic scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and dandruff as well. One of the revolutionary ingredients in it is coal tar extract, which helps the shampoo continue to treat the issues even after rinsing.

    • Suitable for daily use
    • Dermatologist-recommended
    • Effective in controlling scalp skin infections
    • Makes hair smooth and manageable
    • Scent may be unpleasant to some.
  • Best Cooling Formula

    Selsun Blue Medicated Anti-dandruff Shampoo

    Selsun Blue Medicated Anti-dandruff Shampoo
  • This shampoo promises instant relief for irritated skin on the head — a great option when you can’t take the itching anymore! The Selsun Blue medicated shampoo contains a soothing formula with 1% selenium sulfide and menthol, which provides a cooling sensation on the scalp. It is a great product to use during hot, sultry summers. With its quick lathering action, it efficiently tackles dandruff symptoms, such as visible flakes on the surface and red and irritated scalp.

    • Very strong formula
    • Cooling menthol sensation
    • Forms a rich lather
    • Effective against eliminating flakes
    • Fast acting
    • Requires regular use for ongoing control
  • Best Conditioning Shampoo

    MG217 Psoriasis Medicated Conditioning Shampoo

    MG217 Psoriasis Medicated Conditioning Shampoo
  • Those with psoriasis on their scalp know that regular shampoo isn’t going to work. But here’s something that helps — this shampoo by MG217 is really effective. It tackles issues like itchy skin, irritation, scaling, and redness. It contains 3% coal tar, a proven ingredient for psoriasis treatment (1). The conditioning shampoo provides effective scalp treatment by slowing cell growth and controlling build-up. It is recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation as a good control option for scalp psoriasis.

    • Quick action against itching
    • Leaves hair smooth and soft
    • Safe for color-treated hair
    • Gentle on the scalp
    • Clears build-up and flakiness
    • Coal tar scent may be unpleasant for some
  • Quickest Results

    Medicasp Coal Tar Gel Dandruff Shampoo

    Medicasp Coal Tar Gel Dandruff Shampoo
  • Men and women who have visible flakes sitting on their shoulders need to get this product ASAP! This shampoo by Medicasp provides a targeted solution for dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, and psoriasis. Its advanced medicated formula with 0.5% coal tar quickly relieves itching and reduces redness and flaking. Dermatologist-trusted and effective from the first wash, this shampoo refreshes your scalp, leaving it clean and free from discomfort. Use twice a week to control symptoms.

    • Calming and soothing
    • Formulated to treat multiple scalp issues
    • Quick acting
    • Effective against seborrheic dermatitis on eyebrows
    • Affordable price point
    • Dermatologist-recommended
    • May cause temporary discoloration/staining
  • Best Deep Cleansing Shampoo

    Sulfur8 Anti-Dandruff Hair & Scalp Care Shampoo

    Sulfur8 Anti-Dandruff Hair & Scalp Care Shampoo
  • Goodbye dandruff - forevvvaaa! With this product, you can actually say that for real. The Sulfur8 shampoo is deep cleansing in nature. It forms a rich lather for thorough deep cleansing, leaving hair soft and manageable while eliminating dandruff flakes. It utilizes actual sulfur for itch relief. The best part is, it is conveniently packaged in an easy-open jar. Use as needed, up to four times daily, for effective scalp treatment.

    • Quick acting
    • Remedies dry scalp
    • Gentle action
    • Accompanying conditioner can be applied all over skin
    • May sting the eyes in case of contact
    • Slightly strong smell
  • Best Gluten-free Option

    Vanicream Medicated Dandruff Shampoo

    Vanicream Medicated Dandruff Shampoo
  • Those with sensitive skin, don’t lose heart! We got something for you too! The Vanicream shampoo offers maximum OTC strength with 2% pyrithione zinc, especially for sensitive skin. Free of proteins, sulfates, and gluten, it effectively controls and reduces the symptoms of dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. Dermatologist-tested, this mild formula is free of dyes, fragrances, lanolin, parabens, and formaldehyde releasers.

    • Safe for those with protein, sulfate, and gluten allergies
    • Controls and reduces multiple scalp issues
    • Fragrance-free
    • SLS free
    • Does not strip natural oils
    • Pricey
  • DHS SAL Shampoo

    DHS SAL Shampoo
  • Some of us get such a build-up on our scalp that crusts start developing and nothing seems to work on them! If the issue is caused by psoriasis, dandruff, and seborrheic dermatitis, the DHS SAL shampoo can work wonders. It effectively treats severe scalp conditions, relieving itching and flaking. It is clinically proven to break down flaky build-up and continues working even after rinsing. For optimal results, use at least twice a week.

    • Safe for mature skin
    • Smell doesn't linger after rinsing
    • Non-irritating
    • Value for money
    • Requires regular use for ongoing results
  • Best Vegan Option

    Avalon Organics Therapy Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

    Avalon Organics Therapy Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
  • Vegans, you aren’t forgotten! It can be heartbreaking to have a painful scalp issue and at the same time find it extremely hard to find products that comply with your beliefs. But, don’t you worry. This shampoo by Avalon Organics is made of natural substances and is a 100% vegan product. In addition, it is free of sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate, GMOs, synthetic colors, and fragrances.

    • Made up of organic ingredients
    • Vegan
    • Free of chemicals like sodium lauryl and laureth sulfate
    • No GMOs
    • No synthetic colors
    • No artificial fragrances
    • May have a mildly distinct scent
  • Tarsum Shampoo

     Tarsum Shampoo
  • Why go for the boring old shampoo when you can try this fun leave-in two-in-one product? Tarsum is a unique leave-in shampoo and conditioner that provides soothing relief to a flaky scalp, exfoliates flaky skin and plaque, and seals in moisture to improve skin health. By applying this product before showering and leaving it on for 5 minutes to 1 hour, you can customize the level of action. The formulation uses beta hydroxy acid with 10% LCD  and contains coal tar for treating excess dead skin cells. It helps heal and improve itchy, dry skin, inflammation, redness, flaky skin, and plaque caused by conditions like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, severe dandruff, and eczema. Our contributor Dr. Anna Chacon states that if you have a scalp infection, it's generally best to avoid oiling your hair until the infection has cleared. Oils can trap bacteria and fungi on the scalp, potentially worsening the infection.

    • Effective exfoliation action
    • Moisturizing
    • Customizable action
    • Non-drying
    • Suitable for all hair textures
    • Results may vary depending on individual scalp conditions
  • Doctor Formulated Product

    Jupiter Anti Dandruff Shampoo

    Jupiter Anti Dandruff Shampoo
  • Trust only doctors for treating medical issues? We got you! This shampoo by Jupiter is a physician-formulated solution. It is designed to target the root cause of flaky, itchy, oily scalp, and dry scalp issues. The best part is, it is vegan! The sulfate-free shampoo combines innovative key ingredients such as zinc pyrithione, coconut oil, decylene glycol, and algae extract to revitalize scalp health and promote hair growth. Clinically proven to reduce hair breakage by over 75%, it provides a refreshing and soothing cleanse.

    • Doctor-formulated product
    • Contains nourishing ingredients
    • Clinically proven to arrest hair breakage
    • Vegan
    • Sulfate-free formula
    • Free from parabens, phthalates, and dyes
    • Great fragrance
    • Received awards for outstanding results
    • May require regular use for ongoing control of scalp issues
  • DermaZinc Shampoo

    DermaZinc Shampoo
  • Some people hate waiting for results, and this product has been made for them. The DermaZinc shampoo contains 2% Zinc Pyrithione, which effectively stops flaking even before it starts. This powerful shampoo relieves and eliminates the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, providing much-needed relief. All you need to do is use the product religiously and watch all your symptoms disappear.

    • Safe for color-treated hair
    • Dermatologist-recommended
    • Small quantity required for each wash
    • Quick action
    • Value for money
    • Product may separate in the bottle and need mixing
  • Best Fragrance

    TriDerma Soothing Shampoo

    TriDerma Soothing Shampoo
  • Flakiness and dryness are issues that can drive you absolutely crazy. But with a soothing product like TriDerma shampoo, you can get much-needed relief. It is a cosmetic solution designed to address scaly scalp concerns. Infused with natural botanicals, it leaves the scalp clean, shiny, and pleasantly scented. The combination of aloe vera complex, salicylic acid, vitamins, and essential botanicals works to eliminate scalp buildup. This is suitable for all hair types, including color-treated hair.

    • SLS-free shampoo
    • Vegan
    • No coal tar, sulfates, parabens, or steroids
    • Helps exfoliate and reduce dryness and flakiness
    • Contains natural ingredients
    • Non-greasy
    • Pricey

    How to Choose the Best Medicated Shampoos for Your Scalp Condition?

    When choosing the best medicated shampoo, consider the following factors in your buying guide: 

    •  Identify the Condition: Determine the specific scalp condition you want to address, such as dandruff, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis. Look for shampoos that specifically target your concern. 
    •  Active Ingredients: Check the active ingredients in the shampoo. Common medicated ingredients include coal tar, ketoconazole, selenium sulfide, or pyrithione zinc. Research their effectiveness for your specific condition. 
    • Strength and Concentration: Look for the strength or concentration of the active ingredient. Higher percentages may offer more potent treatment, but consult with a healthcare professional to find the appropriate strength for your needs. 
    •  Safety and Compatibility: Consider your hair type and any sensitivities or allergies you may have. Choose shampoos that are safe for your hair and scalp and avoid ingredients that you know may cause irritation. 
    • Product Reviews and Recommendations: Read customer reviews and seek recommendations from trusted sources. Look for feedback on the shampoo’s effectiveness, ease of use, scent, and overall satisfaction. 
    • Dermatologist Recommendations: Consult a dermatologist for personalized advice. They can recommend specific shampoos based on your condition and provide guidance on usage and potential side effects. 
    • Price and Value: Compare prices and consider the value offered by the product. Evaluate the size, durability, and cost per use to determine the best value for your budget. 

    Remember, everyone’s scalp and hair are unique, so what works for others may not work for you. It may require some trial and error to find the best medicated shampoo that effectively addresses your specific scalp condition.

    Tips for Using a Medicated Shampoo Safely And Effectively

    Here are some tips for using a medicated shampoo to get maximum benefits: 

    •  Read and Follow Instructions: Carefully read the instructions on the shampoo bottle and follow them as directed. Pay attention to recommended usage frequency, leave-on time, and any specific instructions for application. 
    • Wet Hair and Scalp: Before applying the shampoo, wet your hair and scalp thoroughly with warm water. This helps create a lather and allows the shampoo to penetrate the scalp effectively. 
    • Apply and Massage: Apply a sufficient amount of medicated shampoo to your scalp. Gently massage it into your scalp using your fingertips, focusing on the areas that need treatment. Avoid using your nails, as this can cause irritation. 
    • Leave-On Time: Pay attention to the recommended leave-on time specified on the product. Some medicated shampoos require a certain duration to allow the active ingredients to work effectively. Use a timer or follow the instructions to ensure you leave it on for the appropriate time. 
    • Rinse Thoroughly: Rinse your hair and scalp thoroughly with warm water. Make sure to rinse until the water runs clear and all the shampoo is removed. 
    • Follow with Conditioner: Depending on your hair type and preference, you may choose to follow the medicated shampoo with a conditioner. If using a separate conditioner, apply it to the lengths and ends of your hair, avoiding the scalp area. 
    • Pat Dry: After rinsing, gently pat your hair dry with a towel. Avoid rubbing vigorously, as this can cause friction and potential damage to your hair. 
    • Avoid Contact with Eyes: Be cautious to prevent the shampoo from getting into your eyes. If accidental contact occurs, rinse thoroughly with water. 

    Note: Remember to discontinue use and seek medical advice if you experience any adverse reactions or worsening of symptoms while using the medicated shampoo. 

    Choosing the best medicated shampoo requires careful consideration of your specific scalp condition, active ingredients, strength, safety, and recommendations. Reading product reviews, seeking dermatologist advice, and comparing prices can help you make an informed decision. When using a medicated shampoo, following the instructions, wetting the hair and scalp, applying and massaging the shampoo, observing the recommended leave-on time, and thoroughly rinsing are essential steps. Consistency, patience, and taking action to consult a healthcare professional if needed will ensure the best results.

    Contributor: Dr. Anna Chacon, M.D. Dermatologist, MyPsoriasisTeam


    Is medicated shampoo good for hair?
    Medicated shampoos can be beneficial for specific scalp conditions like dandruff, psoriasis, or seborrheic dermatitis. However, long-term and excessive use of medicated shampoos may cause dryness or other scalp issues.
    Can I use medicated shampoo every day?
    The frequency of medicated shampoo use depends on the specific product and your scalp condition.
    Can medicated shampoo cause hair loss?
    In general, medicated shampoos are not known to cause hair loss. However, certain individuals may experience temporarily increased hair shedding due to the treatment process or underlying scalp conditions.
    Can I use medicated shampoo while pregnant?
    It is best to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a dermatologist or obstetrician, before using medicated shampoos during pregnancy.
    Does medicated shampoo kill lice?
    Not all medicated shampoos are designed to kill lice. There are specific lice treatments available that are formulated to eliminate lice infestations.
    What are the common scalp conditions that medicated shampoos can help with?
    Medicated shampoos can help with various scalp conditions, including dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and certain types of dermatitis.
    How do medicated shampoos work?
    Medicated shampoos work by utilizing active ingredients that target the underlying causes of specific scalp conditions. For example, ingredients like ketoconazole, coal tar, or pyrithione zinc help to control the overgrowth of fungi, reduce inflammation, and normalize scalp cell turnover. They work to alleviate symptoms like itching, flaking, and redness.
    Can I use a medicated shampoo if I don't have a specific scalp condition?
    It is generally not recommended to use medicated shampoos unless you have a specific scalp condition.
    How long does it take to see results from using a medicated shampoo?
    The time it takes to see results from using a medicated shampoo can vary depending on the individual and the specific scalp condition being treated. Some people may experience improvement in symptoms within a few uses, while for others, it may take a few weeks of regular use.

    Why Trust Pinkvilla

    Alvira, our in-house haircare expert, knows how hard life can be if you suffer from scalp issues like psoriasis or fungal infections. Even using a basic shampoo can result in excessive itching and flaky skin. That’s why she decided to research ingredients that actually work on scalp issues. Whether it is a basic thing like dandruff or a serious thing like an infection, she found products that contain ingredients that can tackle them all. So, after rigorous research, here is the final handpicked list of the best medicated shampoos she can swear by.

    Our product experts study the specifications of every product we suggest and try them out to bring what’s proven to be worthy of your money, time, and energy. We also have subject matter experts from various fields like Fashion, Skincare, Haircare, Home Decor, and Health & Fitness onboard to make sure our suggestions are credible and trustworthy. You can trust Select to be your faithful shopping guide for all the right reasons!

    1. Management of scalp psoriasis: current perspectives


    Author BIO
    Alvira Dsouza
    Hair Expert

    With a keen eye for detail and a passion for hairstyling, Alvira is a certified Hair Expert who brings the latest tre More