Steroid shampoos and lotions
BMJ Group Medical Reference
If you have dandruff caused by severe dermatitis of the scalp, and other treatments haven't helped, your doctor may suggest using a steroid shampoo or lotion, often along with antifungal treatment. You may be given steroid treatment for a few days or weeks. Steroids are common treatments for skin conditions, and reduce redness and inflammation.
The full name for these medicines is corticosteroids. They're not the same as the anabolic steroids sometimes used by athletes or bodybuilders.
One steroid that comes as a scalp lotion or a shampoo is betamethasone (brand names include Bettamousse and Betnovate). You can only get steroid shampoos from your doctor. They aren't sold over the counter.
There hasn't been much good-quality research looking at whether steroid shampoos and lotions can help people with dandruff. But your doctor may recommend them for severe dandruff.
Steroids can have side effects, but using a steroid shampoo for a while shouldn't cause serious problems.  Possible side effects include thinning of your skin or slight changes of skin colour. Your doctor will probably recommend that you use steroids for a fairly short time, to cut the risk of side effects.
Avoid getting steroid lotions or shampoos near your eyes. If they get in your eyes accidentally, rinse with plenty of water.
Corticosteroids are substances that your body makes naturally. But they can also be made in a laboratory to treat certain conditions. Corticosteroids have many different effects, including helping the body to use sugar and to control the amount of fluid it retains. They also reduce inflammation in the body, which is why they are sometimes used to treat diseases like asthma. (Asthma is caused by inflammation in the tubes that carry air in the lungs.)
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