What is the best shampoo for folliculitis?
To answer that question, we first need to talk about what it is.
Folliculitis kind of looks like acne on your scalp.
It’s a non-contagious bacterial or fungal infection.
Some people get it after shaving, wearing helmets or hats, or using tight hairstyles like braids or extensions (1).
The best home treatment for scalp folliculitis often starts with an antifungal shampoo.
You can use anti-dandruff shampoos to stop the itching and clear up the infection.
Of course, if the symptoms worsen or the shampoo doesn’t help, you should talk to a doctor about solutions.
What Type of Shampoos Fight Folliculitis?
As it’s an infection caused by microorganisms, your first choice might be a dandruff shampoo.
Ingredients like ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc, selenium sulfide, and tea tree oil kill fungus and mites (2).
Meanwhile, coal tar helps with itching, and salicylic acid removes crusty buildup.
If you have folliculitis along the hairline, you might also have success using antibacterial soap there twice a day. That’s because folliculitis may be caused by bacteria like Staphylococcus aureus on the skin (3).
Whichever treatment you decide to use, stick to lukewarm water to keep from increasing the inflammation. You need to calm down your skin and prevent irritation.
Why Is It Important to Treat Folliculitis on the Scalp?
If I were you, I wouldn’t delay treating the folliculitis because it can cause baldness.
Prolonged inflammation of the scalp leads to scarring, and scarred follicles don’t produce hair (4).
The small investment you make now is likely to prevent stress and heartache down the road.
Top Shampoos for Folliculitis
With that said, let’s examine the best shampoos that clear up folliculitis.
Ovante Anti-Folliculitis Shampoo
Let’s begin with a popular mild shampoo specifically formulated to treat folliculitis, dandruff, and other scalp problems.
This American-made product is packed with herbal extracts, vitamins, and natural oils.
For example, it contains tea tree oil, neem, lemongrass, patchouli, juniper, and cedarwood. These essential oils give it a woodsy fragrance. But more importantly, they are homeopathic remedies for dandruff and inflammation.
Next, it has sulfur to reduce inflammation and horsetail to promote healthy hair growth. There are also vitamins E, B3, and B5, all of which are linked to strong hair.
Finally, it doesn’t have harsh sulfates that could dry out the scalp.
Users recommend shaking it well before using it. It’s safe for all hair types and color-treated hair, too.
CLn Shampoo for Scalp Prone to Folliculitis
The CLn shampoo was designed by doctors for normal to oily hair. It resolves the itching and flaking that comes from dermatitis, dandruff, and scalp folliculitis.
Happily, guys can use it to wash their beards as well.
It contains both salicylic acid and sodium hypochlorite. Yes, that second ingredient is bleach. At the correct concentration, it cleanses the scalp without stripping the natural oil.
At the same time, salicylic acid removes dead skin and unclogs pores.
Fortunately, there are no artificial fragrances, harsh sulfates, or parabens in the bottle. You can wash with this shampoo up to three times per week if needed.
On alternating days, try the next product below.
CLn Gentle Shampoo
If your scalp tends to be dry and itchy, this hypoallergenic shampoo will be kind to your skin. Wash with it on days when you’re not using anti-dandruff shampoo.
It’s fragrance-free and mild enough for kids and babies. Just be careful as it’s not tear-free.
Moreover, it carries the National Eczema Seal of Acceptance.
ProBliva Fungus Shampoo
This is not a vegan product. But if you may appreciate the power of emu oil to pamper your scalp and hair, you may like it.
But the real focus here isn’t on the conditioning properties, but rather on the anti-folliculitis aspect.
This shampoo treats fungal infections, bacterial infections, and ringworm. It moisturizes and soothes irritated skin.
Some of the other key ingredients include jojoba oil, grapeseed extract, and coconut oil.
Healthy Hair Plus Antifungal Shampoo
Here’s another emu oil shampoo. Why is this ingredient so popular? It’s because it has a natural healing ability.
The formula also has extra virgin certified organic coconut oil. Coconut oil is naturally antimicrobial and an excellent conditioner for the skin and hair.
Then, there’s grapefruit seed extract rich in linoleic acid, vitamin E, and flavonoids. It promotes hair growth.
The goal of the shampoo is to diminish inflammation and itching and soothe a sore scalp. But it can also help you have shinier, thicker hair.
Maple Holistics Tea Tree Oil Shampoo
Is tea tree shampoo good for folliculitis? Some people find that it resolves the problem after a few washes.
Others may need a more potent treatment.
On the plus side, you can try this tea tree oil shampoo with little risk. It comes with a money-back guarantee.
Furthermore, it’s free of harsh ingredients like parabens, artificial fragrances, or sulfates. Instead, the natural formula features gentle surfactants and moisturizers.
Some of them, like argan oil and jojoba, are proven to improve hair and skin health.
If you’re reluctant to treat your sensitive skin with harsh products, try this mild shampoo first.
Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Speaking of harsh products, you might fear Nizoral shampoo. After all, it’s the only one with 1% ketoconazole, a powerful antifungal agent.
It’s so potent that you only need to wash with it twice a week.
But there’s no need to worry as this shampoo is surprisingly user-friendly. It’s gentle enough for color-treated and chemically-processed hair.
Plus, it creates a thick lather and leaves the hair surprisingly soft and shiny.
Neutrogena T/SAL Therapeutic Shampoo
Neutrogena’s T/Sal has 3% salicylic acid. It’s made to clear up seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, dandruff, and treat folliculitis.
Even after you rinse it from your hair, the ingredients continue to work on your scalp for hours. It loosens dead skin and opens pores to lessen inflammation.
Besides, it protects sensitive skin because it doesn’t have any artificial dyes, fragrances, or preservatives.
Kamedis Anti-Dandruff Therapy Shampoo
To get the most benefit from this shampoo, you should combine it with the same manufacturer’s scalp lotion. Together, they reduced dandruff by 50% in a clinical trial.
Adults and children as young as 3 years old can treat folliculitis with this product. It’s suggested that you wash with it at least twice a week.
The cruelty-free shampoo doesn’t contain sulfates, dyes, or parabens, either. Alternatively, it’s based on botanical ingredients from traditional Chinese medicine.
A glance at the label shows that it has soapberry, pyrithione zinc, and salicylic acid.
Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo
If the itching is driving you crazy, you might get the most from a coal tar shampoo like Neutrogena T/Gel.
It has a 2% solution of Neutar, which is equivalent to 0.5% coal tar in total. This amount makes it mild enough for daily shampooing.
Neutrogena suggests leaving it on your scalp for several minutes to get the most from it. But even after you rinse, the therapeutic effects endure for hours.
Besides folliculitis, the shampoo benefits those suffering with psoriasis and dandruff.
Dove DermaCare Scalp Coconut & Hydration Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Pyrithione zinc appears in many of the most popular dandruff shampoos. It’s effective for most people and won’t damage color-treated hair. It also doesn’t change the color of the hair like selenium sulfide might do.
Dove’s product is a smart choice if you have a dry, itchy scalp. It’s extra-moisturizing, although it’s efficient at removing flakes.
The fragrance is coconut and sweet lime.
Selsun Blue Medicated Maximum Strength Dandruff Shampoo
Speaking of discoloring hair, sometimes Selsun Blue does that to blondes. It’s a side effect of selenium sulfide, the primary anti-dandruff component.
The advantage of the maximum strength Selsun Blue is that it comes with menthol. The menthol gives it a delicious cooling sensation that stops the itching right away.
Luckily, this product is safe for color-treated styles and permed hair.
MG217 Psoriasis 3% Salicylic Acid Therapeutic 2 in 1 Shampoo and Conditioner
If you prefer to get in and out of the shower as quickly as possible, try this 2-in-1 shampoo and conditioner.
It’s recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation and recommended by doctors.
It’s medicated with the maximum over-the-counter amount of salicylic acid. The acid softens the dead skin and crusts so that you can remove them, plus any buildup from hair products.
But don’t worry, it doesn’t burn the skin. Salicylic acid is an anti-acne medication that clears up breakouts.
It unclogs pores to shrink inflammation, too.
DHS Sal Shampoo
DHS makes both salicylic acid and pyrithione zinc shampoos. I’m sure you can guess which one this is.
To keep folliculitis at bay, wash with it at least twice a week. It can also treat psoriasis and dandruff.
Users say that it takes a week or two to clear up the scalp. You can also use it to control breakouts on your neck and hairline.
I was also glad to see that this is a sulfate-free shampoo.
Neem Scalp Shampoo
What is neem oil, and how can it help with folliculitis?
Neem comes from an evergreen plant that grows in Asia. It’s a natural pesticide often used in organic farming (4).
It might also be in your toothpaste and your dog’s shampoo.
It’s useful against folliculitis that’s caused by microorganisms like fungus.
When I read the label, I was impressed to see that neem oil is the third ingredient in this shampoo. Since ingredients are listed in order of quantity or concentration, it may have quite a lot of it.
In other good news, the formula has no artificial fragrance, parabens, sulfates, or synthetic ingredients. It’s also gluten-free, kosher, and vegan.
Unfortunately, teens are prone to folliculitis because they are also susceptible to acne. Therefore, this shampoo was designed especially for teenagers.
It has an intriguing approach to healing scalp acne and folliculitis. It contains sage, aloe vera, vanilla bean, almonds, and comfrey. There’s not an anti-dandruff ingredient in sight.
Furthermore, it’s sulfate-free and doesn’t contain parabens, either.
So, how do these natural ingredients clear up problems on the scalp? The company explains it.
First, sage improves blood flow to the scalp to help the follicles function correctly. Second, aloe is full of minerals and vitamins that lead to healthy hair. It may also help more oxygen reach the follicles.
Third, vanilla bean is high in antioxidants that reverse damage from the environment. Fourth, almonds are packed with fatty acids to calm inflammation from acne. And finally, comfrey has allantoin to get rid of dead skin and shrink blemishes.
Choose from a variety of scents including chocolate mint, café mocha, vanilla almond, and blueberry pomegranate cucumber.
Free & Clear Hair Shampoo
What can you do to clear up folliculitis if you have very sensitive skin or allergies?
You could try this extremely mild, hypoallergenic shampoo. It’s pH-balanced to protect against dryness and irritation.
Not only that, but it also leaves out all the harsh ingredients that you can find in many other shampoos. For example, it doesn’t have sulfates, parabens, fragrances, dyes, masking fragrances, preservatives, gluten, and so on.
Even without all those components, it can remove flakes and scales, control an oily scalp, and clear away residue from styling products.
If you need a mild shampoo to use on days when you’re not washing with dandruff shampoo, it is a good choice.
Folliculitis can be painful, itchy, and ugly. I’m sure you’re anxious to get rid of it as soon as possible.
I hope that today you found the shampoo you need to successfully heal your scalp.
Whichever new product you decide to try, give it at least a few days and up to two weeks to get the job done.
Remember to wash with lukewarm water only. Then, follow up with a conditioner to moisturize your scalp and prevent tangles.
Also, speed along the process by washing headgear and pillowcases often. Try not to scratch or touch your head to prevent infection.
Then, I’m confident that you are prepared to prevent a reoccurrence or stamp out the problem as soon as it surfaces.
1. https://www.healthline.com/health/folliculitis-scalp by Adrienne Santos-Longhurst, published February 15, 2019, accessed June 1, 2020
2. https://dermnetnz.org/topics/scalp-folliculitis/ by Dr. Amanda Oakley, et al., published June 2014, accessed June 1, 2020
3. https://www.bad.org.uk/for-the-public/patient-information-leaflets/folliculitis-decalvans/ by the British Academy of Dermatology, reviewed July 2019, accessed June 1, 2020
4. http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/neemgen.html accessed June 1, 2020