Ketoconazole shampoos like Nizoral are used as a first line treatment for dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis. If you experience itching and flaking on your scalp you might be suffering with one of these conditions. Although it can cause itching and irritation, the good news is that it can often be treated with a ketoconazole shampoo like Nizoral.  

If it’s your first time using a ketoconazole shampoo, you’re probably going to have some questions about it – and we’re here to answer them. We’ve put together The Nifty Guide to Nizoral and other ketoconazole shampoos to give you the low-down on how to get rid of dandruff. 


Ketoconazole is a type of antifungal medicine that can help to treat skin infections caused by a type of fungus or yeast. It’s usually available in topical form - something that’s applied directly to the affected area of skin. It generally comes in the form of a cream, ointment, or in this case, shampoo.  

Ketoconazole shampoo can be used to treat episodes of dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis. Ketoconazole shampoos like Nizoral can also be used to prevent these types of infections from coming back if you suffer from them regularly. 

Rather than just masking the appearance of dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis, ketoconazole shampoos also treat the cause of your symptoms so you’re less likely to experience flare-ups in the future. 


Ketoconazole is an antifungal medicine rather than a steroid. It works by reducing the amount of Malassezia on your scalp. Malassezia is a type of fungus that can sometimes over-grow and cause symptoms of dandruff. 

When there’s an overgrowth of Malassezia, like with dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis, you may need an antifungal medicine to help get rid of some of it. Nizoral and other ketoconazole shampoos do this by weakening its cells, which ultimately gets rid of the excess malassezia that’s causing your symptoms. 


Nizoral contains ketoconazole and is often used as a first-line treatment for dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis. It effectively fights the cause of dandruff to treat and prevent symptoms like itching, flaking and redness. 

Some anti-dandruff shampoos with different ingredients only treat the appearance of flakes without tackling the cause of the problem, but Nizoral starts tackling dandruff from the first wash.

If you think that Nizoral might help with your symptoms, pop in for a chat with your local pharmacist. It can be bought online and over the counter, or your doctor might choose to prescribe ketoconazole to you in some cases.  


Nizoral can treat: 

  • Dandruff
  • Seborrhoeic dermatitis

These conditions are usually caused by a type of yeast called Malassezia. Everyone has a small amount of Malassezia on their skin, but in people that have dandruff or seborrhoeic dermatitis, it can over-grow. This seems to cause an immune response in some people, which causes the irritating symptoms. 

Dandruff is a common condition that many people experience at some point in their lives. For a lot of people, it can go away on its own. However, others might need to use medicated shampoos like Nizoral that can treat the cause rather than just the symptoms.  


Seborrhoeic dermatitis is thought to affect around 4% of the population. People with the condition might notice that the affected area looks red, and some skin may have started to scale or flake which can cause a whiteish appearance in patches. It’s more common in cold weather and can sometimes be triggered by stress. 


Nizoral is available to buy over the counter from most pharmacies. If you think that it could help with your symptoms, you can always pop into your local pharmacy and ask their advice.

If they think that Nizoral might be suitable for you, they’ll be able to sell it to you as it’s available to buy without a prescription. 


You only need to use it twice a week for 2-4 weeks to be able to notice a difference. In fact, Nizoral starts working from the first hair wash, and can give visible results in only 2 weeks by using it just twice a week. 


Ketoconazole shampoos can cause side effects in some people, and although these aren’t common, using Nizoral shampoo every day could cause even more scalp irritation.  

If you’ve been using ketoconazole shampoo for 4 weeks and haven’t noticed any relief, you should make an appointment with your GP for more advice.  


Ketoconazole shampoo treats the scalp rather than your hair. However, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take caution when using other haircare products.  

If you prefer to use conditioner after washing your hair with shampoo, you should still be able to apply it to the ends to keep them smooth and moisturised. However, it’s still important to remember that dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis can cause itching and inflammation, so using any products that might cause further irritation to your scalp should be avoided.  


Nizoral shampoo is suitable for all hair types, so as long as it’s suitable for you, you should be able to use it no matter your hair type. You can still continue to use your regular shampoo and conditioner whilst using Nizoral – just use it on the ends of your hair after applying Nizoral to the roots and scalp.  If you regularly dye your hair, you might want to wait until your symptoms have been treated before colouring it again. This is because many types of hair dye can contain irritants. Alternatively, you could opt for a balayage style, where dye or bleach is only applied to the ends of the hair.

If you’re using Nizoral to prevent your symptoms from coming back, you should be able to apply hair dye if there aren’t any sores or open wounds on your head, and your scalp feels normal. Remember to always do a patch test to make sure that it’s suitable for you to use! 


Nizoral and other ketoconazole shampoos are a great option for treating irritating outbreaks of dandruff and seborrhoeic dermatitis. Treating the cause of these conditions means that you’re less likely to experience outbreaks. You can even use Nizoral weekly or once every two weeks to prevent your symptoms from coming back.

Not sure if you're suffering from dandruff? You can always ask your local pharmacist of GP for advice. Sometimes, an itchy scalp can be caused by other conditions which won't be helped with a ketoconazole shampoo. 

Always check with a healthcare professional if you’re concerned about using any new treatments.