A randomized double-blind clinical study was conducted on two groups of 30 volunteers using either a non-tar shampoo (2% salicylic acid, 0.75% piroctone olamine and 0.5% elubiol) or a 0.5% coal tar shampoo. Subjects were diagnosed as having moderate to marked dandruff. The study consisted of a 3-week washout, followed by a 4-week treatment and a 4-week posttreatment regression phase. The clinical evaluations and subject self-assessments showed that the non-tar shampoo was as effective as the tar shampoo. Both received high approval ratings (≥70%). Biometrological methods proved to be more sensitive than clinical evaluations to assess the efficacy of the shampoos. The non-tar shampoo yielded a significantly better reduction of Malassezia spp. counts (p < 0.02) during the treatment phase and reduced the spontaneous increase in squamometry values (p < 0.01) during the posttreatment phase. It is concluded that a formulation associating salicylic acid, piroctone olamine and elubiol exhibited increased beneficial effects compared to the coal tar shampoo.

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