Scalp eczema is an incredibly irritating and often embarrassing skin condition that causes red, flaky, crusty, and itchy patches to develop on the scalp. Unlike dry scalp, eczema symptoms tend to come and go in flare-ups and can be incredibly uncomfortable when inflamed. The scalp is especially tricky when it comes to eczema as the area is sensitive, yet also regularly subjected to hair products, sweat, and irritation from hair fibers.

When scalp eczema flares up, most people’s first impulse is to reach for anti-dandruff shampoos to wash away flakes and soothe the itch. However, not all shampoos are well-equipped to properly care for the intricacies of eczema-prone skin. Using products that contain potential irritants or strip away too many natural oils can upset the skin barrier even further. 

So what makes an effective eczema shampoo? When evaluating the ideal shampoo for scalp eczema, there are a few key considerations:


Look for formulas labeled hypoallergenic, soap-free, fragrance-free, or for sensitive skin. Avoid harsh detergents and chemicals that could provoke more irritation. Aim for natural, plant-based ingredients when possible.

Moisturizing Ingredients

Since eczema arises from a damaged skin barrier, key components in your shampoo for eczema should help nourish skin and seal it in moisture. Options like oatmeal, aloe vera, vitamin E, and plant oils can offset the drying effects of cleansing agents. 

Scalp pH Balance

Your scalp’s natural pH is slightly acidic, which helps guard against bacteria and other microbes that exacerbate skin issues. A good shampoo will help maintain your scalp’s ideal pH environment without stripping oils or disturbing its delicate balance.

Medicinal Additions 

Some shampoos for scalp eczema also incorporate therapeutic additions like coal tar, salicylic acid and hydrocortisone to alleviate itch and redness associated with flare-ups. Use these medicated options sparingly under the guidance of your dermatologist.

With these criteria in mind, here is a roundup of some of the best shampoo options for managing scalp eczema:

Vanicream Free & Clear Shampoo

Vanicream offers an excellent soap-free, fragrance-free, formaldehyde-free formula that gently cleanses while maintaining moisture. With purified water as its main ingredient, it helps calm irritation without drying effects. The National Eczema Association (NEA) also endorses this dermatologist-tested brand for sensitive skin.

Puriya Sulfate Free Anti Dandruff Shampoo

Puriya’s herbal shampoo relies on natural ingredients like arnica, rosemary, and green tea to tame flaking and itching without harsh chemicals. The addition of rich amla oil also leaves scalps supple. Its sulfate-free formula makes it extra gentle. This shampoo for eczema is even safe for color-treated locks.

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo

Those battling moderate to severe scalp eczema will benefit from the proven anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties of Neutrogena’s T/Sal shampoo. Its key active ingredient, 3% salicylic acid, cleanses away bacteria while also removing scaly buildup. Use this medicated shampoo for eczema as directed during more stubborn flares.  

MG217 Psoriasis Medicated Conditioning Shampoo

Formulated with 3% coal tar extract, MG217 helps curb itching and flaking by slowing the rapid growth of skin cells that cause psoriasis and eczema plaques. It also hydrates through natural oils like jojoba, olive oil, and vitamin E so it won’t dry out the scalp. As a bonus, it works to repair previous damage from scratching or abrasions. Use a couple of times a week for maintenance.

SheaMoisture African Black Soap Dandruff Control Shampoo

This shampoo leverages certified organic African black soap and shea butter to gently cleanse irritated scalps prone to eczema without stripping away too much moisture. Tea tree and willow bark remove impurities from the scalp and reduce symptoms of seborrheic dermatitis that can mimic eczema. Since it contains no sulfates or parabens, it’s suitable for daily use.  

Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash

While marketed for babies, this Aveeno cleanser works beautifully for eczema across all ages. Its tear-free formula boasts soothing colloidal oatmeal along with a special complex derived from shampoo for eczema. It washes away dirt and irritants without upsetting pH but still rinses cleanly without residue. Parents often use it to spot and treat severe dry patches.  

Vanicream Free & Clear Medicated Shampoo

Those needing extra itching and inflammation relief can upgrade to Vanicream’s medicated formula, including pyrithione zinc, to curb issues at their source. The rest of the ingredients list stays the same gentle, fragrance-free formula that sensitive skin tolerates well. Since ingredients are carefully selected to avoid common irritants, most can use them daily without provoking more inflammation.

Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo

Jason’s unique shampoo relies on rosemary oil, olive oil, and fennel oil to calm scalp discomfort and discourage future flaking naturally without harsh detergents. The plant-based formula also exfoliates away dead skin cells thanks to salicylic acid from willow bark. Yet it remains gentle enough for regular use between eczema breakouts.  

Key Takeaways When Selecting a Shampoo for Scalp Eczema:

– Seek out formulas specifically labeled “eczema-friendly” or “for sensitive skin types prone to eczema.” These go the extra mile to avoid irritating ingredients. 

– Steer clear of added fragrances, parabens, sulfates or detergents that could provoke more inflammation and dried-out skin.

– If itching and flaking become severe, use a medicated shampoo for eczema containing small percentages of coal tar, zinc or salicylic acid to calm overly active scaling.

– For maintenance washes between flare-ups, choose gentle, moisturizing shampoos for eczema that won’t disrupt your scalp’s natural moisture barrier.

– Consult your dermatologist if you have questions about how often to use medicated shampoos or experience worsening symptoms. With professional guidance, consistency is key for getting eczema under control.

While eczema can certainly complicate hair-washing routines, selecting a shampoo specifically formulated for eczema will make a world of difference in managing frustrating symptoms. By sticking to gentle, therapeutic formulas, you can help minimize flare-ups and feel more comfortable in your skin…and scalp.