The efficacy of a novel topical agent for the treatment of dandruff and dry scalp found support in study data published in Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology. In a preliminary trial of patients with dandruff and dry scalp, consistent use of the topical agent during 2 weeks was associated with substantial reductions in clinical symptoms.

Research suggests that dysregulation of the skin microbiome may contribute to the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis. Based on this hypothesis, investigators developed a novel, topical ointment of probiotics, honey, turmeric, and vitamin B12 intended to restore the microbial composition of the skin.

The efficacy of the ointment was tested in a preliminary clinical trial conducted in Chicago, Illinois. Adults with a clinical diagnosis of dry scalp were enrolled; patients with other scalp diseases and/or previous use of systemic steroids and antibiotics were excluded. At the initial study visit, patients underwent a thorough scalp exam by a research physician. The Investigator Global Assessment (IGA), Total Severity Score (TSS) and Scalpdex were used to evaluate symptom severity. Participants were instructed to apply the topical agent once daily to the scalp for 14 days. After 2 weeks, patients returned to the clinic for a follow-up examination. Changes in IGA, TSS, and Scalpdex scores were tabulated.


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This preliminary trial enrolled 35 adults, of whom 55% were women; 40% were White; 50% were Asian; 5% were Black; and 5% were Multiracial. Median age was 26 years, and patient age ranged from 20 to 78 years. Mean baseline IGA, TSS, and Scalpdex scores were 2.1 ± 0.6, 3.5 ± 1.4, and 46.0 ± 13.4, respectively. Results from paired t-tests suggest that overall disease severity decreased substantially after 2 weeks of treatment. At the 2-week follow-up visit, mean IGA score was 1.1 ± 0.8; mean TSS score was 1.8 ± 1.0; mean Scalpdex score was 39.5 ± 10.3 (all P <.001 compared with baseline). Significant decreases were observed for all 3 TSS subscales: erythema, scaling, and pruritus (all P <.001). Decreases were also observed for the symptom severity (P <.001), emotional impact (P <.00), and functional impact (P =.04) subscale scores of the Scalpdex. The treatment was well tolerated, with no adverse events or complaints reported by patients.

The investigators believe that per these preliminary data, this novel topical agent may be a feasible treatment option for patients with persistent dry scalp and dandruff. As a preliminary trial, however, results should be interpreted with caution.

“These results are promising and build upon our understanding of how treatments targeting the skin microbiome can improve atopic disease outcomes,” investigators wrote. “Future randomized controlled trials will shed further light upon the safety and efficacy of this novel product and help identify the populations most likely to benefit.” 

Disclosure: One study author declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures. 

Reference

Xiao A, Warren C, Samady W, Bilaver L. Novel topical treatment for dandruff & dry scalp through sustained balance in skin microbiome. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2021;14:945-947. doi:10.2147/CCID.S321238