What is Ketoconazole? From Hair Perspective

Ketoconazole is an antifungal drug used to treat a variety of fungal infections.

Ketoconazole is an active ingredient in ketoconazole shampoo products, such as Nizoral shampoo, and it can also be consumed orally to help treat fungal infections, such as dandruff, seborrhoeic dermatitis, and even Athlete Foot.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, seborrhoeic dermatitis is also referred to as “cradle cap”, and is a condition that can affect infants up to adults.

In fact, once an individual is diagnosed with this particular condition, regular flare-ups can come and go throughout a person’s life.

However, the good news is that with regular treatments of ketoconazole, flare-ups can be controlled and reduced.

A Brief History of Ketoconazole

So, how was ketoconazole discovered?

Where did it come from?

Although there have been hair loss products available on the market for decades, few of them were effective in treating systemic fungal infections.

At the time, Amphotericin B was a drug that was used in a variety of therapy for serious infections. However, the main concern with this drug was the level of toxicity.

Decades later, scientists discovered azoles, which were less toxic antifungals.

As a result, ketoconazole became the first available compound for the oral treatment of systemic fungal infections, which was released in the early 1980s.

What is Ketoconazole Used For?

Ketoconazole is one of the few clinically-proven solutions to treat hair loss and hair fungal conditions.

The most common products that contain Ketoconazole are Nizoral hair loss treatment products and shampoos, the most popular shampoo being the Nizoral Anti-Dandruff Shampoo, which we will review in greater detail below.

Nizoral hair loss treatment products contain 1 percent and 2 percent ketoconazole.

Most effective hair loss products will claim that they contain these ingredients as this is one of the three biggest hair loss treatment solutions, in addition to Propecia and minoxidil.

Ketoconazole can also help individuals who are suffering from and battling with hair loss and dandruff.

In fact, ketoconazole is an active ingredient in many anti-dandruff shampoo products.

This is because Ketoconazole will compete against dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and bind hormones to hair follicles, which can help reduce hair loss. The less DHT present in the hair follicles, the better, and the more likely for hair regrowth.

This is because DHT can damage hair follicles until they stop producing hair.

However, ketoconazole has no such effect. For example, since Nizoral AD Shampoo contains ketoconazole, it holds all the same benefits for hair loss sufferers.

Here are some clinical studies related to the use of presence of ketoconazole in various anti dandruff and hair loss products.

  1. Khandpur et al, Journal of Dermatology, 2002. Find at US National Library of Medicine.
  2. Hair Loss Talk, 2012. Find at Vipadenievolos.
  3. Rafi and Katz, ISRN Dermatology, 2011. Find at US National Library of Medicine.
  4. Pieard-Francimont et al, Journal of Dermatology, 1998. Find at US National Library of Medicine.
  5. Aldhalimi et al, ISRN Pharmacology, 2014. Find at Hindawi Publishing Corporation.
About the author


Eric Smith is a medical professional and researcher. His actual research interests are focused on psoriasis, hair loss, cosmetic dermatology, facial rejuvenation, hair diseases, mesotherapy and fillers.