The best Climbazole treatments and shampoos for treating dandruff caused by seborrheic dermatitis


Climbazole, although relatively obscure when compared to some active ingredients, is found in a number of dandruff shampoos.  It’s also one of the favorite active ingredients for combatting seb derm with the guys over at

I thought it was about time we had a deeper look into this ingredient. In typical Dandruff Deconstructed fashion we’ll answer:

What is climbazole?

Climbazole is an antifungal agent added to some shampoos and face washes. The ingredient can be used as a preservative in concentrations up to 0.5%, and to 2.0% for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. Climbazole is not licensed as an active ingredient in the US, Canada, or UK, and so it can be difficult to obtain in concentrations above 0.5%.

A brief history of climbazole

Climbazole was first commercially manufactured in 1998, and between 1999 and 2004 it’s estimated that 110million units were sold globally (mainly in Europe) [1]. During this period several products had licenses in the UK and Germany, but these have since been withdrawn. There are no significant safety concerns, with its fall in popularity due to lack of benefit over the better-studied antifungals.

How does climbazole work?

Climbazole is an ‘imidazole antifungal’ – the same class as many of the popular treatments for seborrheic dermatitis (e.g. ketoconazole, miconazole, clotrimazole). These work by inhibiting ‘lanosterol 14α-demethylase’, the enzyme responsible for producing steroids needed to maintain fungi cell membranes [2].


How effective is climbazole?

There is limited evidence that Climbazole is an effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis. A study published in 2001 showed that 4-week treatment reduced symptoms in 80% of the 30 volunteers [3]. In 2012, it was confirmed that Climbazole is effective against Malassezia – thought to be an underlying cause of seborrheic dermatitis – although the study noted that it’s more effective when combined with zinc pyrithione [4].

In 2016 a clinical trial attempted to determine how effective a cream containing Climbazole/Piroctone Olamine was in treating facial Seborrheic Dermatitis. The study concluded that the “antifungal activity against Malassezia species seems useful for the treatment of mild-to-moderate SD.” [7]

No clinical trials have been conducted to establish where climbazole ranks against other antifungals. Generally, there is little clinical difference between antifungals, with ketoconazole used as the first-line treatment because it is the most extensively studied [5].

The European ‘Scientific Committee on Consumer Products’ (SCCP) in 2013 addressed concerns that the use of climbazole may contribute to an increasing resistance to first-line antifungals [6]. The panel concluded that there was only poor evidence to back this claim – especially when the products are used as rinse-off cosmetics (e.g. shampoos, facial washes).

Where can you buy climbazole?

Climbazole is not approved for use in the US, Canada, or UK and so finding a shampoo with concentrations over 0.5% can be tricky. Several anti-dandruff shampoos containing higher concentrations of climbazole are licensed in European countries:

  • Squaphane (France)
  • Pitiren (Italy)
  • Zoxiderm (Poland)

[Note: In both the US and UK, low strength climbazole can be used as a preservative, and so it’s important to always check the strength on the label!]

What are the risks?

As climbazole shampoos are not licensed in the US, Canada, or the UK, there is risk associated with buying products outside the world’s largest regulatory systems. These shampoos are unlikely to contain English instructions, and so it can be challenging to figure out how to use them in line with the manufacturer guidance.

It’s difficult to fully assess the safety of climbazole, as data has not been provided to regulatory bodies in the US, Canada, or UK – all of whom require extensive safety data before approval. The most extensive review was submitted to the European SCCP, who concluded:

‘The use of climbazole in rinse-off hair cosmetics up to a maximum concentration of 2.0% does not pose a risk to the health of the consumer.’

In the studies evaluated by the SCCP, there was a mild risk of irritation (like many antifungals), with no evidence that climbazole sensitizes the skin, acts as an eye irritant or leads to toxicity. The report noted that many of the studies were incomplete or lacking detail [5].

The best Climbazole shampoos on the market today

Climbazole is an imidazole antifungal used in some shampoos to treat seborrheic dermatitis.

The shampoos are not widely available, but more commonly available in European countries (e.g. France, Italy). From the data available, climbazole has been shown to be a well-tolerated, effective treatment for seborrheic dermatitis – just not any better tolerated or effective than more widely available alternatives (e.g. ketoconazole).

E45 Dry Scalp Shampoo

E45 Dry Scalp Shampoo

Designed to treat Seborrheic Dermatitis, Dry Scalp

E45 is a brand synonymous with dry skin care.

If you frequently get dry scalps after washing then this shampoo could be an excellent choice.

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Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo

Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo

Designed to treat Seborrheic Dermatitis

Sachajuan Scalp Shampoo is a beautiful looking Scandinavian shampoo which contains a very effective (new-age) combination of anti-dandruff actives. With Piroctone Olamine and Climbazole ready to defeat dandruff causing Malassezia yeast and Salicylic and Lactic Acids ready to eliminate existing flakes. There really is a lot to love about this formula.

It’s as good on the inside as it looks on the outside.

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Bioderma Node P Apaisant Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for Sensitive Scalps

Bioderma Node P Apaisant Anti-Dandruff Shampoo for Sensitive Scalps

Designed to treat Seborrheic Dermatitis

Bioderma Node P Apaisant Anti-Dandruff Soothing Shampoo is a fabulous option for sensitive, irritated conditions of mild to moderate dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. With a combination of 2 anti-dandruff actives and dry flake busting salicylic acid, its overall efficacy is excellent. It washes and smells great and if it weren't for the presence of fragrances and silicones it would be an almost perfect sensitive scalp friendly formulation.

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Nyle Naturals Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Nyle Naturals Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Designed to treat Seborrheic Dermatitis

Looking for a dandruff shampoo which doesn’t leave skin or hair feeling stripped and robbed of condition? Then Nyles Naturals anti-dandruff shampoo is the Indian made solution for you. Based on climbazole, this shampoo does show significant promise. Unfortunately there's some potential irritants in here to be aware of, including one particularly nasty one.

f you don't react to these potential irritants then this is an excellent choice for sufferers of mild to moderate Seborrheic Dermatitis.

If you do react - steer well clear. There are plenty of other climbazole shampoos to try.

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Hegor Climbazole 50 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Hegor Climbazole 50 Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Designed to treat Seborrheic Dermatitis

The Hégor Dermatologie Climbazole 50 anti-dandruff shampoo is a lone ranger relying on the efficacy of climbazole to reduce Malassezia yeast populations. An ingredient which is less well studied in lone use than in combination with other anti-dandruff actives. It performs well in use, however, is let down by an ingredients list littered with allergens and irritants - including some of the harshest perfumes and preservatives.

If you suffer from a sensitive scalp, I would look elsewhere.

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If you haven’t seen your favorite shampoo listed, chances are we have and it can be found if you check out all our Climbazole reviews.

If there’s any we haven’t reviewed then please just drop us a line and we’ll be absolutely delighted to look into it!


[1] FDA. (2005). TEA Application for Climbazole. [Accessed: 11/7/17]

[2] Gupta, A. K., Nicol, K., & Batra, R. (2004). Role of antifungal agents in the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 5(6), 417-422.

[3] Wigger-Alberti, W., Kluge, K., & Elsner, P. (2001). Clinical effectiveness and tolerance of climbazole containing dandruff shampoo in patients with seborrheic scalp eczema. Praxis, 90(33), 1346-1349.

[4] Turner, G. A., Matheson, J. R., Li, G. Z., Fei, X. Q., Zhu, D., & Baines, F. L. (2013). Enhanced efficacy and sensory properties of an anti‐dandruff shampoo containing zinc pyrithione and climbazole. International journal of cosmetic science, 35(1), 78-83.

[5] Okokon, E. O., Verbeek, J. H., Ruotsalainen, J. H., Ojo, O. A., & Bakhoya, V. N. (2015). Topical antifungals for seborrhoeic dermatitis. The Cochrane Library.

[6] SCCP. (2013). Opinion SCCS/1506/13 on Climbazole. [Accessed: 11/7/17]

[7] Hae Jeong Youn, Soo Young Kim et al (2016). Efficacy and Safety of Cream Containing Climbazole/Piroctone Olamine for Facial Seborrheic Dermatitis: A Single-Center, Open-Label Split-Face Clinical Study. Ann Dermatol 28(6): 733–739.

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