Active Ingredients in Selsun Blue

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A woman is washing her hair. (Image: esp2k/iStock/Getty Images)

Selsun Blue is a line of shampoos used to treat dandruff and other skin conditions. Manufactured by Chattem, Selsun Blue is available over the counter and in a prescription-strength version as well. Chattem sells a few different types of Selsun products addressing different consumer preferences, such as a medicated shampoo and two moisturizing shampoos.

Selenium Sulfide

The most well-known version of Selsun Blue is its basic formulation, containing selenium sulfide as the active ingredient. Selenium sulfide is an anti-fungal agent which may be helpful in treating the skin yeast infection tinea versicolor, scalp ringworm (tinea capitis) and athlete's foot (tinea pedis). Selenium sulfide also is effective at treating seborrheic dermatitis because it slows the overgrowth of skin cells involved in this condition, as noted by Flexyx.com

Menthol

Selsun Blue is available in a medicated formula, containing selenium sulfide along with menthol, the main active ingredient in peppermint. Menthol has cooling, calming and numbing effects and may soothe irritated skin and stop itching, as explained by the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC).

Salicylic Acid and Botanicals

For people who need dandruff control but also have dry or damaged hair, a moisturizing formula may be more appropriate. Selsun Blue is available in a moisturizing formula as well as a shampoo called Selsun Blue Naturals, both of which contain botanical ingredients to moisturize hair. Selsun Blue Naturals contains the active ingredient salicylic acid rather than selenium sulfide. Salicylic acid promotes shedding of the skin's top layer, so the shampoo can wash away the dead skin cells making up dandruff. Botanical ingredients for moisturizing include aloe, and chamomile and lavender extracts.

Pyrithione Zinc

Selsun Salon is another dandruff shampoo, this one containing the active ingredient pyrithione zinc. This ingredient slows the excess production of skin cells, thus relieving and preventing flaking and scaling of the scalp caused by dandruff or seborrhea, according to Drugs.com.

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