Why is this medication prescribed?
Selenium sulfide, an anti-infective agent, relieves itching and flaking of the scalp and removes the dry, scaly particles that are commonly referred to as dandruff or seborrhea. It is also used to treat tinea versicolor, a fungal infection of the skin.
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Selenium sulfide comes in a lotion and is usually applied as a shampoo. As a shampoo, selenium sulfide usually is used twice a week for the first 2 weeks and then once a week for 2, 3, or 4 weeks, depending on your response. For skin infections, selenium sulfide usually is applied once a day for 7 days. Follow the directions on the package or on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use selenium sulfide exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than directed by your doctor.
Do not use this medication if your scalp or the skin area to be treated is cut or scratched.
Avoid getting selenium sulfide in your eyes. If the medication gets into your eyes accidentally, rinse them with clear water for several minutes.
Do not leave selenium sulfide on your hair, scalp, or skin for long periods (e.g., overnight) because it is irritating. Rinse off all of the lotion.
Do not use this medication on children younger than 2 years of age without a doctor's permission.
To use the lotion as a shampoo, follow these steps:
- Remove all jewelry; selenium sulfide may damage it.
- Wash your hair with ordinary shampoo and rinse it well.
- Shake the lotion well.
- Massage 1 to 2 teaspoonsful (5 to 10 mL) of the lotion into your wet scalp.
- Leave the lotion on your scalp for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Rinse your scalp three or four times with clean water.
- Repeat Steps 4, 5, and 6.
- If you are using selenium sulfide before or after bleaching, tinting, or permanent waving your hair, rinse your hair with cool water for at least 5 minutes after applying selenium sulfide to prevent discolored hair.
- Wash your hands well and clean under your nails to remove any lotion.
If your doctor tells you to use the lotion on your skin, apply a small amount of water with the lotion to the affected area and massage it to form a lather. Leave the lotion on your skin for 10 minutes; then rinse it thoroughly.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before using selenium sulfide,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to selenium sulfide or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, including vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using selenium sulfide, call your doctor.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Selenium sulfide may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- oiliness or dryness of hair and scalp
- hair loss
- hair discoloration
If you experience either of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- scalp irritation
- skin irritation
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online () or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website () for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor. Selenium sulfide is for external use only. Do not let selenium sulfide get into your eyes, nose, or mouth, and do not swallow it. Do not apply dressings, bandages, cosmetics, lotions, or other skin medications to the area being treated unless your doctor tells you.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
Tell your doctor if your skin condition gets worse or does not go away.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
- Head and Shoulders® Intensive Treatment Dandruff Shampoo
- Selsun Blue®
¶ This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.