How Effective is Zinc Pyrithione: Facts You Need to Know

Do you know what is the most commonly found active ingredient in anti-dandruff shampoos? It is Zinc Pyrithione, a complex compound primarily containing zinc, along with oxygen, nitrogen, and sulfur. It is also known to have fungistatic and bacteriostatic properties which is what fights dandruff. So how effective is Zinc Pyrithione really?

We will explore the answer in this article.

What does Zinc Pyrithione do?

Before getting to the details about this compound, it is good to know what really happens when you have flakes in your head. The epidermal layer on your scalp regularly produces new cells and gets rid of the old ones. This process generally takes a month, but for some people, it may happen in just a matter of days. The degenerated cells appear as flakes on your scalp and may show up on your clothes when you comb or touch your hair. However, there are several other causes too.

It was discovered that a fungus called Malassezia, which exists only on scalp skin, causes dandruff too. This type of fungus is usually the cause of dandruff for many people. Since zinc pyrithione is fungistatic, it is able to get rid of this fungus. While other components of the shampoos clean and moisturize your scalp, this particular ingredient gets rid of these flakes and Malassezia.

How effective is Zinc Pyrithione for dandruff?

Most over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos contain this substance, and it has been found to be effective at controlling dandruff. In fact, it is also used in medications for seborrheic dermatitis, a severe form of dandruff. In just three washes, you can expect visibly fewer flakes and less itching in your scalp.

If you use a shampoo containing Zinc Pyrithione regularly for a few weeks, your dandruff will likely be under control. Not only that, if you have a minor case of dandruff, using such shampoo will make sure you do not get dandruff.

There are other active ingredients that are considered stronger than Zinc Pyrithione. For instance, Selenium Sulfide and Nizoral are stronger agents when it comes to controlling flakes and getting rid of the itchiness in the scalp. Dermatologists usually prescribe shampoos containing these ingredients to individuals with severe dandruff problems.

For Zinc Pyrithione to do its job best, you need to make sure to follow the instructions printed on the bottle or directions given by your dermatologist. Such shampoos need to be massaged into the scalp and kept in the hair for a few minutes. The frequency of applying the shampoo depends on you but, generally speaking, washing hair once in a day is more than enough.

Can shampoos containing Zinc Pyrithione be used regularly?

This is one of the most common concerns people have: whether an active ingredient is safe to be used on a regular basis. As a matter of fact, Zinc Pyrithione does not damage your hair even when used quite often. This is because it is not a coarse agent and only has anti-fungal properties that help in getting rid of toxins and fungus. Unlike Nizoral, it does not dry your scalp. Other active ingredients like Nizoral that are stronger may make the scalp skin dry.

What is even more interesting is that recent studies have found that Zinc Pyrithione may even help with hair growth. Everyone assumes that using shampoos with chemicals will cause hair loss or damage, but this ingredient may even help regenerate growth in your hairs. You will lose less hair at least, if not grow new ones.

Some shampoos may contain other active ingredients with this one. They can be expected to work even faster than the ones that contain just the zinc compound. In fact, another kind of zinc compound, zinc carbonates, has been found to be very effective. It is no surprise that zinc compounds can help protect your hair and control dandruff, as zinc is one element known to be very nutritious for your hair. People with damaged hair even take zinc supplements and eat a lot of fish as it contains zinc.


Zinc Pyrithione is a key ingredient in many anti-dandruff shampoos around the world and has been found to be very effective in controlling dandruff and soothing your scalp of any dandruff related itchiness. However, you might need even stronger agents if you have a very severe case of dandruff. Nevertheless, it is completely harmless and can be used regularly as and when dandruff appears on your scalp.

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