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Seborrheic dermatitis can be a stubborn condition to treat, but lifestyle changes, home remedies, and over-the-counter products, including certain shampoos and conditioners, can all be helpful, dermatologist Dr. Craig Ziering tells Elite Daily. “Medicated shampoos and conditioners are the primary treatments for seborrheic dermatitis,” he explains, so if you’re dealing with the condition, it’s smart to stock your shower with the right products. For today’s article, the focus is conditioners — and according to Dr. Ziering, the best conditioners for seborrheic dermatitis contain over-the-counter medicated ingredients like zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, sulfur, coal tar, selenium sulfide, or ketoconazole to help with symptoms like flaky skin, scaling, itching, redness, swelling, and inflammation on your scalp. And if you’re looking to complete your in-shower collection, be sure to check out this guide to the best shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis.
If you’re already using a shampoo for your seborrheic dermatitis, you can pair it with a gentle conditioner, ideally one that’s free of alcohol and any botanical extracts that use artificial essences, and unnecessary additives or harsh chemicals, the expert advises. When possible, avoid fragranced products, as well. One more suggestion from Dr. Ziering is to stop using hair sprays, gels, and other styling products while you're treating the condition, especially anything that contains alcohol. Finally, if at-home remedies don't help, talk with your doctor about trying other treatments, such as prescription-strength shampoos and topical ointments, or an anti-fungal medication you can take as a pill.
1. The Best Shampoo & Conditioner Set For Seborrheic Dermatitis
According to the American Academy of Dermatology, seborrheic dermatitis often responds best to combining two or more treatments, which is why this Head & Shoulders Clinical Strength duo is so helpful. There’s one highly effective ingredient in the shampoo (selenium sulfide) and another in the the conditioner (zinc pyrithione), which work in tandem to reduce itching and other forms of scalp discomfort. After rinsing out these products, your hair should be left feeling refreshed and soft.
2. The Best 2-In-1 Shampoo & Conditioner For Seborrheic Dermatitis
Though medicated shampoos are great for treating the symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis, they can also be drying, which is why a two-in-one shampoo with conditioner, like this one from Selsun Blue, is an ideal solution, striking the perfect balance between being neither too heavy nor too light. Made with 1% selenium sulfide to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis symptoms, this shampoo-and-conditioner helps keep hair moisturized and shiny without weighing it down.
3. The Best Unscented 2-In-1 Shampoo & Conditioner For Seborrheic Dermatitis
Added fragrance can sometimes bother people with already sensitive scalps, which is why Dr. Ziering often advises his patients with seborrheic dermatitis to stick with fragrance-free hair care products. This two-pack of Dermarest shampoo and conditioner is made with 3% salicylic acid, hydrocortisone, and zinc to soothe and treat irritated, itchy scalps and help remove flakes and scales, but it’s completely unscented. It’s great for treating psoriasis and dandruff, in addition to seborrheic dermatitis.
4. The Best Non-Medicated Conditioner For Seborrheic Dermatitis
You don’t have to use a medicated conditioner if you’re happy with the results you’re getting from your medicated shampoo or other seborrheic dermatitis treatment. If that’s the case, try Vanicream Free & Clear Hair Conditioner, which gently conditions hair without exacerbating scalp discomfort because it’s oil-free, pH balanced, and formulated without chemical ingredients like dyes, fragrance, parabens, sulfates, and even gluten, which can cause reactions if you have a skin sensitivity or allergy.
5. The Best Herbal Conditioner For Seborrheic Dermatitis
DERMA-E Scalp Relief Conditioner is made from a blend of soothing and nourishing botanicals, like aloe, neem, burdock, and tea tree (which is another helpful way to relieve symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis), as well as moisturizing oils like argan and sweet almond. Those naturally derived ingredients work alongside salicylic acid and white willow bark, of which SA is a derivative, to clear up congestion and buildup on your scalp.
As Dr. Ziering notes, some botanical extracts contain artificial essences and harsh chemicals that can make scalp conditions worse instead of better, but this conditioner uses botanicals that are truly naturally derived. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, and made without sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and other potentially irritating chemicals.
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To soften and remove scales from your scalp, Dr. Ziering suggests applying mineral oil or olive oil to your scalp, leaving it on for an hour, and combing or brushing your hair before shampooing out the oil in the shower. This bottle of 100% olive oil is super handy, thanks to the pointed nozzle applicator, so you can more easily (and less messily) apply it to your scalp. As for the popular Tangle Teezer, this brush gently detangles without pulling or yanking at your hair, and it feels soothing when combed against your scalp.
Dr. Craig Ziering, board-certified dermatologist and founder, Ziering Medical