13.9 Shampoos and other preparations for scalp and hair conditions


NHS England (NHSE) has published new prescribing guidance for various common conditions for which over-the-counter (OTC) items should not be routinely prescribed in primary care (quick reference guide). These conditions include cradle cap and dandruff.

Many cradle cap and dandruff shampoos and other preparations for scalp and hair conditions are cheap to buy and are readily available OTC along with advice from pharmacies. Some self-care medicines are available from shops and supermarkets. Please click here for further information, exceptions, and a patient leaflet.

Cradle cap in infants may be treated with coconut oil or olive oil applications followed by shampooing.

  • Shampoo 2% (£2.72 = 120ml)



  1. Seborrheic dermatitis, available for sale to the public for seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp and dandruff
  • Shampoo (benzalkonium chloride 0.5%) (£5.69 = 250mL)


  • Seborrhoeic scalp conditions associated with dandruff and scaling, apply as necessary
Ceanel Concentrate®
  • Shampoo (cetrimide 10%, undecenoic acid 1%, phenylethyl alcohol 7.5%) (£3.40 = 150ml)


  • Scalp psoriasis, seborrhoeic dermatitis, dandruff, apply 3 times in first week then twice weekly


Women should be advised about local methods of hair removal, and in the mildest cases this may be all that is required.

Co-cyprindiol may be effective for moderately severe hirsutism. Metformin is an alternative in women with polycystic ovary syndrome [unlicensed indication]. Systemic treatment is required for 6-12 months before benefit is seen.


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