Ketoconazole is an azole antifungal that works by slowing down and preventing the growth of fungus. Due to its fungal-fighting abilities, ketoconazole can be found in medicinal shampoos in order to treat fungal infections that impact the scalp.

From treating conditions like dandruff to psoriasis, ketoconazole shampoos can be extremely beneficial when it comes to hair health. That being said, what are the benefits and side effects to ketoconazole shampoo?

What Is Ketoconazole Shampoo?

Ketoconazole is a medicated shampoo that’s commonly used to treat conditions such as tinea infections, ringworm, athlete’s foot, and more. Ketoconazole is in a class of antifungal medications called imidazoles, which often work by slowing the growth of fungi that cause infection.

This antifungal shampoo is easily accessible, as it’s available in supermarkets or online for purchase. Once you begin use of ketoconazole shampoo, you should begin to see results within two to four weeks after you begin using the shampoo, unless told otherwise by a healthcare provider for your specific condition.


While ketoconazole shampoo is most commonly advertised as a dandruff treatment, this product has other benefits associated with its use. When applied to the scalp properly, the shampoo yields several benefits, including:

  • Dandruff (seborrheic dermatitis)
  • An overgrowth of Malassezia
  • Psoriasis
  • Tinea capitis
  • Tinea versicolor
  • Promotes hair growth
  • Reduces hair loss

Ketoconazole shampoo is both easy-to-use and full of benefits, making it a worthwhile purchase for those with dry or sensitive scalps. For a natural version, take a look at using activated charcoal.

Side Effects

Ketoconazole shampoo contains potential side effects that you should be cautious of before use. Some of the potential common side effects of this antifungal shampoo include:

  • Skin irritation in the form of pimple-like bumps
  • Oiliness or dryness of the scalp
  • Abnormal hair texture or discoloration

In rare cases, ketoconazole shampoo can result in hair loss, so be sure to talk to your doctor right away if you notice this adverse reaction.

Signs of Allergic Reaction

While allergic reactions to the use of ketoconazole shampoo are extremely rare, it’s still important to take the possibility seriously. If you experience any of the following, discontinue the use of ketoconazole shampoo immediately and seek immediate medical attention.

  • Rash
  • Dizziness
  • Severe Itching
  • Swelling of the face, tongue, or throat

Other Considerations

If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, talk to your doctor before using ketoconazole shampoo as its effects aren’t well-studied. It’s also important to not use the antifungal shampoo on anyone under the age of 12 unless instructed otherwise by a pediatrician.

How to Use Ketoconazole Shampoo

For best practice, it’s important to follow the instructions of your doctor and the instructions indicated on the product label. 

If you intend to apply ketoconazole shampoo on the scalp, be sure to first apply the shampoo to wet hair. For best results, lather the hair well and give the shampoo time to soak into the scalp before rinsing it thoroughly. 

If you’re using this antifungal shampoo on any area other than the scalp, apply it to the affected area and let it sit for five minutes. Then, wash it off thoroughly with water, and then dry your skin.

To prevent any negative reactions, it’s recommended you do a skin patch test with the shampoo to see if any irritation is caused by the application.

Final Thoughts

Ketoconazole shampoo offers a slew of benefits for those seeking treatment for conditions such as dry scalp, psoriasis, tinea capitis, and more. After using the shampoo, you should see results within two to four weeks, unless your doctor informs you otherwise for your particular condition.

If you are thinking about using ketoconazole shampoo, you should consult with your doctor first. They will be able to provide more information on whether or not this antifungal shampoo would be beneficial for your condition. 

Further, when purchasing ketoconazole shampoo, look to the packaging labels for more information. You may want to look out for the following:

  • What, if any, government labels the package has to determine the level of regulation and testing the product underwent
  • Other ingredients in the product that you could be sensitive to

Disclaimers: This article does not constitute professional medical advice, nor can it replace the advice of a licensed professional.

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