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Exsel (Generic Selenium Sulfide)

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Why is this medication prescribed?

Selenium sulfide is commonly prescribed to treat certain skin conditions, primarily dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. These conditions are characterized by flaky, itchy scalp or skin, often caused by an overgrowth of a yeast-like fungus called Malassezia.

How should this medicine be used?

Here’s how selenium sulfide is typically used:

  • Shampoo: Selenium sulfide is most commonly available in the form of medicated shampoo. It’s applied to the affected scalp or skin and left on for a few minutes before rinsing thoroughly. How often you use it depends on your doctor’s recommendation, but usually, it’s used once or twice a week.
  • Follow Instructions: Always follow the instructions provided by your doctor or the directions on the shampoo label carefully. Avoid using more than directed or leaving it on for longer than recommended, as this can cause irritation.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: After leaving the selenium sulfide shampoo on for the recommended amount of time, make sure to rinse it off completely. Residue left on the skin or scalp can cause irritation.
  • Avoid Contact with Eyes and Broken Skin: Selenium sulfide can be irritating to the eyes and broken skin. Be careful to avoid getting it in your eyes, and if contact occurs, rinse thoroughly with water. Similarly, avoid applying it to broken or inflamed skin unless directed by your doctor.
  • Consult Your Doctor: If you experience any irritation or adverse reactions while using selenium sulfide, stop using it and consult your doctor.

Remember, selenium sulfide is a medication, so it’s essential to use it as directed by your healthcare provider to ensure its effectiveness and minimize the risk of side effects.

Other uses for this medicine

While selenium sulfide is primarily used to treat dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, it may also have other off-label uses or applications. Some dermatologists may prescribe selenium sulfide for conditions such as tinea versicolor, a fungal infection of the skin that causes discoloration, or pityriasis rosea, a common skin condition characterized by a pink or red rash. However, it’s essential to use selenium sulfide only as prescribed by your doctor and to follow their instructions carefully.

What special precautions should I follow?

As for special precautions when using selenium sulfide:

  • Allergies: If you have known allergies to selenium sulfide or any other ingredients in the medication, inform your doctor before using it.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: It’s important to discuss the use of selenium sulfide with your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. While there isn’t enough research to determine its safety during pregnancy or breastfeeding, your doctor can help weigh the potential risks and benefits.
  • Children and Elderly: Special caution may be needed when using selenium sulfide in children or the elderly. Always follow your doctor’s recommendations for dosage and frequency.
  • Avoiding Contact with Eyes and Mucous Membranes: Selenium sulfide can be irritating to the eyes and mucous membranes. Take care to avoid contact with these areas, and if contact occurs, rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Skin Irritation: Some individuals may experience skin irritation, redness, or itching while using selenium sulfide. If these symptoms occur, discontinue use and consult your doctor.
  • Interaction with Other Products: Selenium sulfide may interact with certain medications or topical products. Inform your doctor about all prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as any other skincare products you are using, to avoid potential interactions.
  • Storage: Store selenium sulfide shampoo or lotion as directed on the packaging. Keep it out of reach of children and away from extreme heat or moisture.
  • Follow Directions: Always follow the directions provided by your doctor or on the product label carefully for the best results and to minimize the risk of adverse effects.

By following these precautions and using selenium sulfide as directed by your healthcare provider, you can maximize its effectiveness while minimizing any potential risks.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

Regarding dietary instructions, there are typically no specific dietary restrictions associated with selenium sulfide use. However, maintaining a balanced diet and staying hydrated can contribute to overall skin health.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to use selenium sulfide at the scheduled time, use it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up. If you have any concerns or questions about missed doses, consult your doctor or pharmacist for guidance.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Selenium sulfide, like any medication, can cause side effects in some individuals. Common side effects of selenium sulfide use include:

  • Skin Irritation: This is the most common side effect and may manifest as redness, itching, burning sensation, or dryness at the application site.
  • Hair Discoloration: Selenium sulfide may cause temporary discoloration of hair, particularly in individuals with light or blonde hair.
  • Increased Oiliness or Dryness: Some people may experience changes in scalp or skin oiliness or dryness while using selenium sulfide.
  • Allergic Reactions: Although rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to selenium sulfide, which can manifest as rash, hives, swelling, or difficulty breathing. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience any signs of an allergic reaction.
  • Eye Irritation: Accidental contact with selenium sulfide shampoo or lotion may cause irritation to the eyes. Rinse thoroughly with water if this occurs.
  • Worsening of Skin Conditions: In rare cases, selenium sulfide may worsen certain skin conditions, particularly if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.
  • Unusual Hair Loss: While uncommon, some individuals may experience unusual hair loss with long-term or excessive use of selenium sulfide.

It’s important to note that not everyone will experience these side effects, and many people use selenium sulfide without any adverse reactions. If you experience severe or persistent side effects, discontinue use and consult your doctor for further guidance. Additionally, if you have any concerns about the side effects of selenium sulfide, discuss them with your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Storage and disposal of selenium sulfide:


  • Follow Instructions: Store selenium sulfide products as directed on the packaging or as instructed by your healthcare provider.
  • Temperature: Typically, selenium sulfide products should be stored at room temperature, away from excessive heat or moisture.
  • Keep Out of Reach: Keep selenium sulfide products out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental ingestion.
  • Avoid Contamination: Close the container tightly after each use to prevent contamination and to preserve the effectiveness of the product.


  • Follow Guidelines: Dispose of selenium sulfide products according to local guidelines and regulations for the disposal of medications or chemical products.
  • Do Not Flush: Do not flush selenium sulfide products down the toilet or drain unless instructed to do so by the product labeling or local authorities.

In case of emergency/overdose

  • Seek Medical Attention: In case of accidental ingestion or overdose of selenium sulfide, seek immediate medical attention or contact your local poison control center.
  • Provide Information: Be prepared to provide information about the product ingested, including its strength and the amount consumed, to healthcare professionals.

What other information should I know?

  • Follow Instructions: Always use selenium sulfide products as directed by your healthcare provider or as instructed on the product label. Do not exceed the recommended dosage or frequency of use.
  • Avoid Contact: Avoid contact with selenium sulfide products with eyes, mucous membranes, or broken skin. Rinse thoroughly with water if accidental contact occurs.
  • Consult Healthcare Provider: If you have any questions or concerns about the use of selenium sulfide products, consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance.
  • Keep Appointments: Attend follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider as recommended to monitor your condition and response to treatment.

By following these guidelines and being aware of proper storage, disposal, and emergency procedures, you can use selenium sulfide products safely and effectively.

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