Senior Health Home > What Is Ketoconazole Gel Used For?

Ketoconazole gel is prescribed for the treatment of seborrhea. This antifungal medication may also be prescribed for unapproved uses, including the treatment of other types of fungal infections. Ketoconazole gel is approved for use in adults and children as young as 12 years old.

An Overview of Uses for Ketoconazole Gel

Ketoconazole gel (Xolegel®) is a prescription skin medication approved for the treatment of seborrheic dermatitis, also known as seborrhea, in people age 12 and older with normal immune systems. Unlike many other seborrhea treatments, ketoconazole gel is not a steroid. It is applied just once a day for two weeks.

What Is Seborrhea?

Seborrhea is a common condition of the skin. It mainly affects the scalp, face, and torso. In its mildest form, it shows up as mild dandruff. More severe symptoms include:
  • Yellow, oily scales
  • Pimple-like bumps
  • Hair loss
  • Bright-red inflammation.
In infants, seborrhea is commonly known as "cradle cap." Seborrhea tends to come and go, in response to weather, stress, and other changes.
It is unclear what exactly causes seborrhea, or if there are different causes for different people. One thought is that overgrowth of normal skin fungus could lead to seborrhea, perhaps because of the skin's reaction to the fungus.

How Does It Work?

Ketoconazole gel is part of a group of medications known as antifungals. Seborrhea has been linked to certain types of fungus, and ketoconazole gel is thought to work by killing the fungus, although this is not known for sure at this time.

Can Children Use Ketoconazole Gel?

Ketoconazole gel is not approved for people younger than age 12. Your child's healthcare provider can still recommend and prescribe this medication for children, although you should be aware that it has not been adequately studied in children younger than 12 years old.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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