Shampoos in the management of skin disease - Veterinary Practice
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Shampoos in the management of skin disease

If chosen carefully and applied correctly, the right shampoo can be valuable in a multimodal approach to skin complaints

Skin disease is one of the most common reasons
for a vet visit (Nielsen et al., 2014) and due to the
multifactorial nature of most skin complaints, a multimodal approach is necessary for the optimum
outcome. The use of specially formulated veterinary
shampoos, either as standalone therapy or as adjunctive
treatment, can be very valuable in helping to achieve the
desired result for the patient in terms of comfort, resolution
of clinical signs or long-term management of chronic skin
conditions. They may be used to remove surface allergens,
control surface micro-organisms, remove scales and crusts
and help to restore hydration, the epidermal turnover rate
and the epidermal barrier.

Technique and frequency

Factors that influence efficacy include employing the correct
shampooing technique, frequency of use and selecting
the appropriate formulation for the specific skin condition.
Ensuring a non-slip surface in the bath, using a towel or
bath mat, will help to relax the pet during the process.
Ideally, there should be two applications of shampoo, with a thorough rinse in between. The first application should
cleanse the coat and skin of surface dirt and old epidermal
cells, whereas the second application of shampoo should be
left in contact with the skin for five to 15 minutes (according
to individual shampoo recommendations) to allow the active ingredients to be absorbed and penetrate the deeper cellular layers of the skin.

It is important to thoroughly rinse off the shampoo
after this second application. Frequency of shampooing
will depend on the specific skin condition being managed;
generally it is recommended to begin with twice weekly for
the initial couple of weeks, but this can be reduced to once
weekly or every two weeks as adequate control is achieved.

Choosing the right shampoo

There are many different types of veterinary shampoo
available and the choice on which to use should be guided
by the specific properties of each and the skin condition
in question. It is not uncommon for animals to have a
combination of skin issues, and it can be challenging
knowing which shampoo to select. On the whole, greasy,
scaly skin will require shampoos with keratolytic and keratoplastic properties, whereas for dry, itchy skin,
shampoos with emollient properties should be used.

Many veterinary shampoos also have antimicrobial
action, furthering their importance as adjunctive therapies
for skin conditions as they can help to reduce the reliance
on systemic antimicrobials in certain cases. In summary,
shampoos should not be overlooked as an important
component of topical therapy for the management of skin
disease. Used properly, they are ideally suited to provide
fast and effective relief of clinical signs associated with
many scaling and pruritic skin disorders.

For more information, contact Virbac Ltd on 01359
243243 or visit


Nielsen, T. D., Dean, R. S., Robinson, N. J., Massey, A.and Brennan, M. L.


Survey of the UK veterinary profession: common species and conditions nominated by veterinarians in practice.

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