Ketoconazole is an antifungal medication that treats a number of fungal infections. It is a synthetic form of imidazole, another antifungal medication. Ketoconazole is available as a topical cream to treat such fungal infections as athlete’s foot, ringworm, and yeast infections. Ketoconazole shampoo is often prescribed for people with dandruff or who have a skin condition known as pityriasis (tinea versicolor). Tinea versicolor is a fungal infection that causes skin to lighten or darken, usually affecting the skin of the chest, neck, legs, or arms. The prescription form of the shampoo contains 2% concentration ketoconazole in an aqueous suspension. It also contains the necessary ingredients to cleanse hair.
How Does Ketoconazole Shampoo Work?
Ketoconazole shampoo, frequently sold under the brand name Nizoral shampoo, interferes with the cell membranes of yeast and fungi. It does this by disabling the fungi from producing a substance called ergosterol, a required component for cell membranes. Without it, holes form in the cell membrane, allowing essential matter to leak out and the cell dies.
Ketoconazole Shampoo and Tinea Versicolor
Tinea versicolor is a fungal condition that creates light or dark patches on the skin. It is a common condition and often occurs in teenagers or young adults. The discolored patches may become more visible when exposed to the sun. This ailment is not painful, nor is it contagious. It does, however, often have an adverse effect on self-esteem and can lead to emotional distress. Also known as pityriasis versicolor, this condition may cause mild itching and scratching.
Although the fungus that causes this condition is also found on normal, healthy skin, problems begin when that fungus begins to overgrow. It may be triggered by:
- Oily skin
- Hot, humid weather
- Hormonal changes
- Weakened immune system
It is usually possible for a doctor to diagnose tinea versicolor simply by looking at it, but occasionally skin scrapings may be ordered for microscopic exam to confirm the diagnosis.
The treatment for tinea versicolor is often the use of ketoconazole shampoo. It is available in 1% concentration over-the-counter or 2% concentration, which is available by prescription only. The shampoo is lathered and applied to affected areas and should remain on the skin for 5 minutes. It is then rinsed away.
This treatment for tinea versicolor is not an overnight solution. It can take weeks or even months for the ketoconazole shampoo to reverse the discoloration and it may reappear again later, especially after sun exposure.
Ketoconazole Shampoo and Dandruff
Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are not caused by dry skin as the myth says. Like the skin on the rest of a human body, skin cells on the scalp are continuously renewing themselves. Dandruff occurs when new cells on the scalp are formed so quickly that they are pushed to the surface more rapidly than old, dead cells are expelled. An overgrowth of a yeast calledmalassezia often contributes to this condition. Dandruff is harmless, but it can be unsightly, embarrassing, and make your scalp itch.
Ketoconazole shampoo, or Nizoral, is often the preferred treatment for dandruff. If the dandruff is mild, an over-the-counter Nizoral shampoo is usually enough to get the problem under control. In more severe cases, ketoconazole shampoo 2% may be necessary and a prescription is required. This should be used as directed by the doctor, probably two-5 times a week like a normal shampoo.
Side Effects of Ketoconazole
There are several side effects of Nizoral shampoo, though most people do not suffer severe allergic reactions to ketoconazole. Some that may be experienced include:
- Small bumps on the scalp like pimples
- Abnormal hair texture
- Oily or dry scalp
Any symptoms of allergic reaction should be reported to the prescribing physician.