The main function of traditional shampoos is to clean the hair and make it look polished. They are not meant for treating diseases. However, there are specialized ones containing active pharmaceutical compounds. These are called medicated shampoos. Their main role is to address scalp infections or inflammatory conditions. A lot of dermatologists prescribe medicated shampoos for different scalp conditions.
As their name suggests, medicated shampoos comprise specific drugs targeted for specific health problems. These products have many uses, e.g., bacterial or fungal scalp infections, psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis, dandruff, etc. Some of these diseases are related to hair fall.
So, the physician may also suggest a medicated shampoo to control hair fall. Their pharmaceutical agents include corticosteroids, sulfur, salicylic acid or coal tar. Elements like biotin keratin or zin derivatives could help nourish the hair.
Do medicated shampoos work? They contain drugs targeting specific diseases, so there is no question. That is why dermatologists confidently prescribe medicated shampoos. But they must be used as advised and not for conditions not designed for.
Many medicated shampoos are over-the-counter, which means they can be bought without a prescription. Some, however, are only dispensed with a prescription.
For example, some dandruff shampoos are available over the counter, while the physician prescribes others. Essentially, it depends on the type and concentration of the drug they contain.
There are many varieties of medicated shampoos. A lot of these are used for dandruff. One of the most potent anti-dandruff shampoos contains ciclopirox. This antifungal agent can treat the underlying fungal infection in the scalp, reducing dandruff.
Another prescription-only shampoo has the potent steroid clobetasol propionate as an ingredient. This drug is used for scalp psoriasis. Clobetasol can alleviate the associated inflammation and help clear the affected area. The shampoo should be applied to the hair for 15 minutes, and then wash it off with water. This drug is absorbed from the scalp, so there is always a risk of adverse events. Note of caution: this should never be used for over a month.
Ketoconazole shampoos are very common in our country. Many people just buy and use it for dandruff, but this should only be used with a recommendation from a physician. Ketoconazole specifically targets the fungus Malassezia, a major culprit for causing dandruff.
Zinc shampoos are over-the-counter products. They offer antibacterial and antifungal action. They can be used for various types of scalp conditions. Zinc pyrithione, for example, is a good treatment option for seborrhoeic dermatitis, the most common cause of dandruff.
Like zinc, salicylic acid-containing shampoos remove dead, dry, and flaky skin and open up blocked pores. For hair fall, salicylic acid shampoos could be a good choice. Selenium shampoos also have the same benefit: they can slow down cell death, thus slowing down hair fall. Both these shampoos are available without prescription.
Tar is another component of over-the-counter medicated shampoos. Its main role is to reduce inflammation and itching, which is why it is sometimes recommended for scalp psoriasis.
Medicated shampoos are not for regular use in healthy hair. They will only be useful when applied for conditions they have the drug for.
An anti-dandruff shampoo will not affect scalp psoriasis and vice versa. So, the scalp condition must be correctly diagnosed first, and then it is possible to make the right choice of shampoo.