To stop your scalp from shedding, head to the drugstore before you head for the doctor’s office to ask for help.
Two recent studies show that two common over-the-counter dandruff-fighting ingredients, pyrithione zinc and selenium sulfide, may control flaking as well as the more expensive prescription ingredient ketoconazole.
Thirty-two people who used either a drugstore shampoo (1% pyrithione zinc) or a prescription (2% ketoconazole) saw the same dandruff improvement after four and six weeks of use. In a separate study, people who shampooed more than three times a week with a different drugstore ingredient – 1% selenium sulfide – noticed better flake reduction than people who again used the prescription 2% ketoconazole product (Cosmetic Dermatology, May and December 1996).
The bottom line? As long as you use drugstore dandruff shampoos properly, you should be able to avoid the cost and hassle of going to a dermatologist for a prescription product. (If the flaking doesn’t subside with regular use, though, you should see a dermatologist. The cause could be something like psoriasis, excessively dry scalp, or ringworm, and may require different treatment.)