When it comes to treating eczema on your scalp, it’s important to make sure you’re washing your hair with the right shampoo. According to board-certified dermatologist Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., F.A.A.D., with whom Elite Daily spoke with for this article, the best shampoos for eczema should contain one of the following ingredients: zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid, selenium sulfide, ketoconazole, or coal tar.
Dr. Robinson adds that atopic dermatitis, or eczema, can be associated with allergies and asthma, and is caused internally by our immune cells, so it’s important to not only manage the condition with medicated shampoos (and taking showers with warm, not hot water) but also to determine your triggers so you can “establish a proactive, therapeutic treatment regimen to help avoid and/or diminish the degree of future flareups.” Fragrances and sulfates are common irritants, as is alcohol, which can excessively dry out the scalp and lead to an overproduction of sebum, the doctor says. Since eczema is inflammatory, Dr. Robinson also advises avoiding foods that can cause inflammation, like alcohol, high glycemic carbs, and sugar, and whenever possible, trying to manage stress (another eczema trigger).
If you have any questions about what’s causing your scalp to flare up, speak with your dermatologist to identify the best treatment for you, since there tends to be an overlap in symptoms associated with eczema, psoriasis, allergic contact dermatitis, and seborrheic dermatitis, Dr. Robinson says.
To discover three, doctor-recommended shampoos for eczema you can buy on Amazon, keep scrolling.
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1. CLn Shampoo Healthy Scalp Shampoo
Dr. Robinson likes this CLn shampoo, which was specifically formulated for scalps prone to itching, folliculitis, dandruff, and other similar conditions, like eczema (it’s also safe for use on beards). The fragrance-free formula uses salicylic acid to exfoliate your scalp, gently removing dead skin cells and clearing out clogged follicles/pores in the process. Use it one to three times a week, alternating with a gentle shampoo on other hair-washing days.
Relevant review: “My dad and daughter use this product. Has completely eliminated eczema on their scalp and behind their ears. It is actually very moisturizing to hair, too. My daughter has a massive head of thick, wavy hair, and I was afraid a clinical product might be drying, but it is not. Her hair is soft and shiny and bouncy after using this.”
2. Free & Clear Medicated Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Another pick from Dr. Robinson, Vanicream’s Anti-Dandruff Shampoo contains 2% zinc pyrithione, an antibacterial, antifungal ingredient that’s used to treat skin conditions like eczema and dandruff. The super-simple formula is free of sulfates, parabens, and fragrances, and comes from a brand that makes skin and hair care products targeted toward people with extremely sensitive skin, so you can trust that there won’t be anything in here that might exacerbate your eczema.
Relevant review: “Obsessed! Nothing fancy found within this bottle, but I’ve been on prescription oils and foams for my eczema in my scalp for years and after a month of using this I NO LONGER need any of my prescriptions!! I will never go back to regular shampoo again. Life saver!”
3. Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
One last recommendation from Dr. Robinson: Neutrogena’s popular T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo. This one uses coal tar to fight scalp conditions like psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis, and eczema, and lots of people (including over 8,000 Amazon reviewers) swear by it. That said, coal tar can cause your skin to become more photosensitive, and it can also stain clothing, skin, and other fabrics, and potentially even discolor light hair (albeit temporarily), so use it with caution.
Relevant review: “The ONLY product I’ve ever used to completely 100% clear up my eczema. Even my prescription doesn’t work this well.”
Also Consider: Free & Clear Hair Shampoo
Medicated shampoos, like the three above, are effective at treating symptoms of eczema, but if your scalp is currently clear, try switching to a mild, fragrance-free shampoo, and then use the medicated formula every few washes to stay ahead of things, Dr. Robinson says. Free & Clear shampoo is a great choice for people with all sorts of skin conditions, including eczema. It’s free of practically every potentially irritating ingredient out there, but it still gives hair a nice, deep clean. Pair it with Free & Clear conditioner to restore moisture to dry ends.
Relevant review: “I could cry, this stuff is so amazing. I have autoimmune issues and a severe and chronic type of eczema is part of that. […] I have been using [Free & Clear shampoo] for a few months now but I have to say after about 2 washes my bumps and scaling and itchiness was completely gone and hasn’t come back yet. I am so relieved and so happy to have found this product. My hair is even starting to grow back now that the scalp isn’t so damaged.”
Deanne Mraz Robinson, M.D., F.A.A.D., President, Modern Dermatology, Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology, Yale New Haven Hospital