Listerine Treatment for Scalp Problems

Written by lisa parris
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Listerine Treatment for Scalp Problems
Scratching only worsens scalp irritation. (Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Scalp problems are characterised by white flakes, skin irritation and the constant urge to itch. While medicated shampoos are commonly used to treat scalp disorders, those on a tight budget may want to try an old-fashioned scalp tonic: mouthwash. When Listerine antiseptic mouthwash was first introduced to the public, the label included directions for using Listerine to treat common skin conditions, such as dandruff and dry scalp. While the package no longer contains this information, the remedy itself remains popular among those who favour home remedies for the treatment of minor ailments.

Scalp Conditions

Itchy, flaky, uncomfortable scalps can be caused by a number of things: an allergic reaction to a hair care product, dry skin, unwashed hair, shampoo residue, sticky conditioners, an accumulation of perspiration and oil, an increase in the number of fungi or bacteria on the skin, exposure to extreme temperatures or simply not brushing the hair enough. Just like the skin on the rest of the body, the scalp requires routine cleansing and proper stimulation to remain healthy. However, scalp problems occasionally occur even with proper care. While they are not life-threatening, they are unsightly and can cause self-consciousness and personal discomfort.


To treat dry, itchy scalps with Listerine, simply stir 1 tablespoon of mouthwash into ¼ cup of water and apply the mixture to scalp after shampooing. Massage the scalp gently with the tips of the fingers, working the solution into the skin, then style hair as usual. Treat severe scalp conditions with undiluted Listerine, shampoo the hair, then cover the scalp with full-strength mouthwash. Wait five minutes, rinse and condition.

How it Works

Before it became a popular mouthwash, Listerine was used to disinfect wounds. The combination of alcohol, benzoic acid, menthol, methyl salicylate and thymol kills germs, bacteria and fungi on contact, effectively eliminating dandruff-causing microorganisms. Additionally, Listerine has astringent properties that tighten the pores, reducing the amount of oil on the scalp. It also contains essential oils that alleviate itchiness while removing dirt, grime and styling-product residues.


Listerine is an alcohol-based compound and should therefore not be applied to open sores or cracked skin as this will cause an extremely uncomfortable burning sensation. While Listerine is available in a wide array of flavours and formulas, original brown is probably the best choice for medicinal purposes as it contains less artificial colours and flavouring agents.

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