The Best Shampoo for Heavy Dandruff

by D.C. Winston

Dandruff is a frustrating flaky scalp condition spurred by an oily scalp or dry scalp. 50 million people in the United States alone suffer from the condition where dead skin cells develop too rapidly to be sloughed off naturally and build up. These cells then cohere on the scalp, creating larger visible white flakes. Severe dandruff can make the scalp itchy and irritated and turn into a more severe related condition called seborrheic dermatitis. There are a number of anti-dandruff shampoos on the market containing active ingredients effective in sloughing off the flakes and preventing future buildup.

T-Gel Line from Neutrogena

Neutrogena produces a range of over-the-counter shampoos for dandruff under their T-Gel line geared specifically for mild to severe and even seborrheic dematitis intensities of dandruff. The products use a range of active ingredients known to effectively control dandruff symptoms including salycylic acid, coal tar and zinc pyrithione and each have antibacterial properties. Specific varieties are are available for extremely itchy scalp, excess scalp build-up, extra strength with 1 percent coal tar and a daily use plus conditioner. The line also has a dye and scent free version if you are sensitive and makes a conditioner that contains the same active ingredients to add to the treatment benefits of the shampoos.

Plant Based Anti-Dandruff Shampoos

There are several plant based anti-dandruff shampoos on the market. Those containing at least 5 percent Tea Tree oil have been found effective by a study conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The antifungal properties in Tea Tree oil apparently kill the yeast Pityrosporum ovale which plays a role in dandruff. Also designed to work at the microbial flora level of dandruff is Phyto's Phytosylic shampoo, which combines salycylic acid and cypress essential oils to treat the scalp.

Prescription Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

When over the counter shampoos are not controlling dandruff your doctor or dermatologist can prescribe prescription strength shampoos to get severe dandruff under control. Many prescription products have the same but much higher doses of the active ingredients in the over the counter brands. Common and effective doctor prescribed shampoos contain: Ketoconazole under such names as Nizoral that is a wide-acting antifungal; 2.9 percent coal tar shampoo by DHS; and 3 percent salicylic acid under the brand DHS Sal. As with over the counter shampoos you use them either daily or every few days to control and prevent recurrence of symptoms and rotate to a new formulation when the current shampoo fails to keep controlling symptoms.