Background: Ketoconazole is highly effective against the yeast Pityrosporum ovale, an organism believed to be involved in the pathogenesis of dandruff.
Objective: Our purpose was to evaluate the safety and effectiveness of ketoconazole 2% shampoo versus selenium sulfide 2.5% shampoo and placebo shampoo in patients with moderate to severe dandruff.
Methods: Features assessed included adherent and loose dandruff scores, presence or absence of irritation, itching, yeast cells, and global improvement rating by the investigator.
Results: A total of 246 patients were included. Mean total adherent dandruff score declined throughout the treatment period with both ketoconazole 2% and selenium sulfide 2.5% shampoos significantly better than placebo at all visits. Ketoconazole was statistically superior to selenium sulfide at day 8 only (p = 0.0026). Both medicated shampoos were significantly better than placebo for reducing irritation and itching. Of the nine adverse experiences reported during the treatment phase, all involved patients treated with selenium sulfide 2.5% shampoo.
Conclusion: Both ketoconazole 2% shampoo and selenium sulfide 2.5% shampoo are effective in the treatment of moderate to severe dandruff; however, ketoconazole 2% shampoo appears to be better tolerated.