Selenium Sulfide

Synonyms: Seleenidisulfidi; Selendisulfid; Seleni Disulfidum; Selenii disulfidum; Selenio, sulfuro de; Sélénium, disulfure de; Selenium Disulphide; Selenium Sulphide; Seleno disulfidas; Sulfid seleničitý; Szelén-diszulfd.
Cyrillic synonym: Сульфид Селения.

💊 Chemical information

Chemical formula: SeS2 = 143.1.
CAS — 7488-56-4.
ATC — D01AE13.
ATC Vet — QD01AE13.


In Chin., Eur., Int., and US.

Ph. Eur. 6.2

(Selenium Disulphide; Selenium Sulphide BP 2008). A bright orange to reddish-brown powder. Practically insoluble in water.

USP 31

(Selenium Sulfide). A bright orange to reddish-brown powder with not more than a faint odour. Practically insoluble in water and in organic solvents; soluble 1 in 161 of chloroform and 1 in 1667 of ether.

💊 Adverse Effects, Treatment, and Precautions

Topical application of selenium sulfide can produce irritation of the scalp and skin, especially in the genital area and skin folds. Treated areas should be rinsed thoroughly to reduce inflammation, and contact with the eyes should be avoided. Oiliness or dryness of the scalp or hair, hair discoloration, and hair loss have been reported. Selenium sulfide shampoos should not be used within 48 hours of applying hair colours or straightening or waving preparations. Selenium sulfide may discolour metals. Only traces of selenium sulfide are absorbed through intact skin but prolonged use on broken skin has resulted in systemic toxicity. To minimise absorption it should not be applied to mucous membranes or to skin that is inflamed or damaged. Toxicity is expected to be low from the ingestion of shampoos containing selenium sulfide. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea may occur and gastrointestinal decontamination is generally considered unnecessary, but systemic absorption and toxicity, particularly neurological effects, might develop if large amounts are retained in the gut.

Systemic toxicity.

A woman with excoriated eruptions on her scalp developed weakness, anorexia, abdominal pain, vomiting, tremors, sweating, a metallic taste in her mouth, and a garlic-like smell on her breath after using a shampoo containing selenium sulfide 2 or 3 times weekly for 8 months.1 All symptoms subsided 10 days after the shampoo was stopped.
1. Ransone JW, et al. Selenium sulfide intoxication. N Engl J Med 1961; 264: 384–5.

💊 Uses and Administration

Selenium sulfide has antifungal and antiseborrhoeic properties. It is used topically in the treatment of dandruff (pityriasis capitis) and seborrhoeic dermatitis of the scalp. Five to 10 mL of a lotion or shampoo containing 2.5% of selenium sulfide is applied to the wet scalp; the hair is rinsed and the application repeated; the preparation should remain in contact with the scalp for 2 to 3 minutes each time. The hair should be well rinsed after the treatment and all traces of the preparation removed from the hands and nails. Applications are usually made twice weekly for 2 weeks, then once weekly for 2 weeks and then only when necessary. Shampoos and lotions containing 1% are also used. Selenium sulfide is also used as a 2.5% lotion in the treatment of pityriasis versicolor. The lotion may be applied to the affected areas with a small amount of water and allowed to remain for 10 minutes before thorough rinsing. This procedure is repeated once daily for about 7 days. Alternatively undiluted 2.5% lotion has been applied at bedtime and washed off in the morning on 3 separate occasions at 3day intervals. Selenium sulfide has also been used as an adjunct to the systemic treatment of tinea capitis.

💊 Preparations

BP 2008: Selenium Sulphide Scalp Application; USP 31: Selenium Sulfide Topical Suspension.

Proprietary Preparations

Arg.: Selsun†; Austral.: Selsun; Austria: Selsun; STOI-X; Belg.: Selsun; Braz.: Caspacil; Selsun; Canad.: Head & Shoulders Intensive Treatment; Selsun; Versel; Chile: Selsun; Denm.: Selenol; Selsun†; Fin.: Selsun; Selukos; Fr.: Selsun; Ger.: Selsun; Selukos†; Gr.: Selsun; Hong Kong: Selsun; Indon.: Selsun; Topisel; Irl.: Selsun; Israel: Sebosel; Selsun; Ital.: Selsun Blu; Malaysia: Sellon; Selsun†; Neth.: Selsun; Norw.: Selsun; Selukos; NZ: Selsun; Philipp.: Selsun Blue; Pol.: Selsun; Port.: Finitor; Selenix; S.Afr.: Selsun†; Singapore: Seldron; Spain: Abbottselsun; Bioselenium; Caspiselenio; Swed.: Selsun; Selukos; Switz.: Selsun; Thai.: Sebosel; Selfide; Selsun; UK: Selsun; USA: Exsel†; Head & Shoulders Intensive Treatment; Selsun; Venez.: Selegel; Seltrex†. Multi-ingredient: Arg.: Selegel; Canad.: Selsun with Provitamin B †; Fr.: Selegel; Vichy Dercos Shampooing Antipelliculaire; Ger.: Ellsurex; India: Candid-TV; Ital.: Selsun Plus†; Spain: Sebumselen; Switz.: Ektoselene; Venez.: Selenil.
Published January 15, 2019.