Can You Use Selsun Blue For Skin Issues?

Written by Anjali Sayee

Selsun Blue is a common trade name for selenium sulfide. It is used commonly in anti-dandruff shampoos. It reduces scalp greasiness and slows down the growth of dandruff-causing skin cells on the scalp. Besides, anecdotal evidence suggests that using Selsun Blue on the skin may help treat several skin conditions.

But what does science say? Is Selsun Blue safe to use on the skin? Or does it cause more harm? In this article, we discuss the benefits of Selsun Blue for skin and its potential risks. Keep reading.

Benefits Of Selsun Blue For Skin

1. May Help Treat Thickening Of Skin

A study suggests that topical application of a selenium sulfide lotion or shampoo may treat hyperkeratosis (thickening of skin’s outer layer), especially involving palms and soles (1). As part of the study, three individuals with hyperkeratosis were successfully treated with selenium sulfide in either a 2.5% lotion/shampoo or a 2.75% foam without any adverse effects. Besides, the response was not only rapid but also complete and sustained.

2. May Help Treat Seborrheic Dermatitis

This skin condition is characterized by red patches with yellow-gray scales that mostly appear on the face, scalp, upper chest, and back. A study found that selenium sulfide used in concentrations of 0.5% to 2.5% in lotion, ointment, cream, and jelly vehicles may help treat the skin condition effectively. Besides, concentrations of 0.5% and 1% were found to be less irritating than and as effective as the higher concentrations (2).

This disease may often occur in conjunction with other skin conditions like acne vulgaris and eczema (3). Hence, treating seborrheic dermatitis may help reduce the flare-up of these conditions.

3. May Help Treat Pityriasis Versicolor

Pityriasis (tinea) versicolor is a skin condition that causes hyperpigmented and hypopigmented scaly patches. It is caused by the fungus Malassezia furfur. Research suggests that selenium sulfide may treat this skin condition effectively besides showing better efficacy than sodium sulfacetamide (4). However, it may cause certain adverse effects. Hence, practice caution.

4. May Help Treat Rashes

Selenium sulfide is an antifungal agent. Anecdotal reports suggest that it may be used to treat skin rashes. However, consult a dermatologist before using Selsun Blue for rashes as it may cause side effects in some individuals.

These are the potential skin benefits of Selsun Blue. But how do you use it for achieving the desired results?

How To Use Selsun Blue For Skin

  •  Selsun Blue is meant for use on the skin only. Ensure you shake the package before use (as directed on the package). Remove jewelry before using the product. Rinse your hair and scalp before applying the product to treat seborrheic dermatitis or scalp dandruff. Massage the product in and leave it on for the prescribed duration. Check the label to understand if the product can be used on color-safe and processed hair.
  •  For tinea versicolor, apply selenium sulfide to the affected area. Add a few drops of water to form lather. Leave it on the skin for about 10 minutes and wash off.
  •  Wash your hands after using selenium sulfide. Do not leave this medication on your hair, scalp, or skin for a longer period. Also, do not use it more often than directed.
  •  Consult a doctor or pharmacist if your condition worsens or does not improve despite using Selsun Blue.

Note: Do not apply any products containing Selsun Blue into your eyes, nose, or mouth. Avoid applying it to broken or inflamed skin as it may cause swelling and irritation.

Selenium compounds are not easily absorbed through the skin. Hence, using medicated shampoos containing selenium is generally considered safe. However, one may still experience side effects like contact dermatitis (5). Read to know the other side effects of Selsun Blue in the following section.

Selsun Blue: Side Effects And Precautions

The side effects of Selsun Blue include (6):

  •  Redness, burning, itching, stinging, and irritation of the skin
  •  Scalp sores, increased skin oiliness, and nail hyperpigmentation
  •  Scalp hyperpigmentation
  •  Scalp discoloration
  •  Alopecia (hair loss)
  •  Rarely, nausea may occur due to the medication’s odor

Note: Children aged below five years and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use Selsun shampoo.

Do not use Selsun shampoo if:

  •  You are allergic (hypersensitive) to selenium sulfide or any of the other ingredients of the shampoo
  •  You have broken or severely inflamed skin

Do you know that food we take contains selenium? But does it make the food healthy or harmful? Keep scrolling to know the answers.

Is It Wrong To Eat Food With Selenium?

No. Selenium is an essential nutrient for humans and animals. People receive a majority of their daily selenium intake from food, and to a lesser extent, from water. However, selenium can be harmful when regularly taken in amounts higher than those needed (6).

The seriousness of the adverse effects depends on how much selenium is taken and how often. Brittle hair and deformed nails can develop even if mildly excessive amounts of selenium are taken over long periods.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that people may also lose feeling and control in their arms and legs in extreme cases. Swallowing a large amount of selenium supplement pills could be life-threatening without immediate treatment.


Selsun Blue (selenium sulfide) can be used to treat skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis, tinea versicolor, and hyperkeratosis. It is an antifungal agent and helps protect the skin from infections. Do not keep the skin in contact with Selsun Blue products for longer than needed. Wash the product off thoroughly after the prescribed duration. These products may sometimes cause side effects like rashes, blistering, and discoloration. Consult a doctor in the case of any adverse reactions. Using the product as per the directions can help give you better results.


Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Topical Selenium Sulfide for the Treatment of Hyperkeratosis
  2. Observations on the Use of Selenium Sulfide and Hydrocortisone Ointment
  3. Seborrheic Dermatitis and Malassezia species
  4. A Double-Blind Comparative Study of Sodium Sulfacetamide Lotion 10% Versus Selenium Sulfide Lotion 2.5% in the Treatment of Pityriasis (Tinea) Versicolor
  6. Selenium

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