Ketoconazole shampoo (Dandrazol, Nizoral)

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For dandruff, use the shampoo twice weekly for 2-4 weeks. To help prevent dandruff from returning, continue to use the shampoo every 1-2 weeks.

For pityriasis versicolor, apply the shampoo directly to the skin patches once each day for up to five days. Leave it on the skin for 3-5 minutes before washing it off.

Type of medicineAn antifungal medicine
Used forSevere forms of dandruff; pityriasis versicolor
Also calledDandrazol®; Nizoral®
Available asShampoo

Ketoconazole shampoo is helpful for persistent or more severe forms of dandruff. It contains an antifungal agent which kills the yeast-like germs (a type of fungus) which causes the flaking of the scalp.

Ketoconazole shampoo is also prescribed for a skin condition called pityriasis versicolor. Pityriasis versicolor is a skin rash which is also caused by a yeast-like germ. Although small numbers of this germ commonly live on the skin and do no harm, some people are prone to it multiplying on their skin more than usual, which leads to small pale or brown patches of skin developing. In some people, hot, sunny or humid weather seems to trigger the germ to multiply on the skin.

Ketoconazole shampoo is available on prescription, and you can also buy some brands without a prescription at pharmacies and other retail outlets. It can be used by adults and children over 12 years of age.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using ketoconazole shampoo it is important that you speak with a doctor or pharmacist if:

  • You have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • You are pregnant or breast-feeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only use medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines or using any other medicated skin products. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • Before you use the shampoo, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about ketoconazole shampoo and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from using it.
  • For dandruff, use the shampoo twice weekly for 2-4 weeks. Wet your hair well before you apply the shampoo. Massage the lather over your scalp and then leave it for about 3-5 minutes before you rinse it off. To help prevent the dandruff from returning, you can continue to use the shampoo once every 1-2 weeks.
  • For pityriasis versicolor, apply the shampoo to the skin patches once each day, for up to five days. Leave it on the skin for 3-5 minutes and then wash it off. For people who develop the rash after being out in the sun, the shampoo can subsequently be used as a way of preventing the rash from developing when planning to sunbathe. When used like this, it can be used for up to three days, in the same way as before.
  • Try not to get any of the shampoo into your eyes but if this happens, rinse it out with water as soon as possible.
  • If you are using the shampoo for dandruff and your symptoms are showing no signs of getting better after four weeks of using the shampoo, please speak with a doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with ketoconazole shampoo. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Ketoconazole shampoo side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 100 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Mild irritation, dryness, changes to how your hair feelsIf it continues or becomes troublesome, speak with a doctor or pharmacist for further advice

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the shampoo, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.

This preparation is for external use only. If you suspect that someone might have swallowed some of it by accident, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

The shampoo is for you. Do not give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, please remember to tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking/using.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about the treatment, please speak with your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Nizoral® Antidandruff Shampoo; McNeil Products Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated February 2014.
  • British National Formulary; 70th Edition (Sep 2015) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
29151 (v1)
Last Checked:
28/10/2015
Next Review:
27/10/2018
The Information Standard - certified member

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