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Getting set with shampoos...

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01 September 2011, at 12:00am

SUSAN McKAY briefly outlines some of the benefits of using shampoos as part of the management of various dermatological conditions

SHAMPOOS can make a marked contribution to the management of dermatological conditions. The benefits of cleansing the skin without causing undue dryness or promoting excess sebum secretion is the most obvious benefit but a shampoo can also deliver active ingredients to the skin surface and hair coat. The value of removing topical toxins, crusting and allergens and providing prompt relief, through the application of shampoo, can be significant. Shampoos can also actively moisturise, acting as emollients, emulsifiers, occlusives and humectants, sealing in moisture, preventing excess water loss and smoothing the skin surface by allowing oil droplets to become interspersed between dry skin flakes. 

Using shampoos effectively 

Shampoos can be used as an aid in the management of seborrhea, pruritus, superficial pyoderma, Malassezia infections and also as skin cleansers and conditioners. Before starting to use a shampoo, it is useful to develop a short- and long-term plan based on the likely compliance of the owner. Many owners over-use shampoo or use it inappropriately, so it is worth emphasising how frequently the shampoo should be used and giving general instructions about bathing the pet, which include how much to use and optimal water temperatures. It is estimated that it takes 10-15 minutes contact time for water to be able to hydrate the stratum corneum and short contact times or frequent bathing can dehydrate the skin. Soaking for too long can macerate the stratum corneum and lead to loss of protective barrier function. A shampoo that helps scaling generally requires 5-15 minutes contact time, with the time starting from when the animal is completely lathered. Correct rinsing is also very important to remove any potentially irritant shampoo residues. 

Evaluate alternatives

For owners without good facilities for shampooing their pet, or perhaps an elderly client who cannot manage to bathe a pet themselves, in-house bathing may be something that clients are willing to pay the practice to carry out, offering benefits in  terms of shampoos being used more effectively and economically than might otherwise be possible in the home.
Bathing the dog at the practice also prevents potential mess and
disruption to the owner’s home. Factors such as latherability, fragrance, dispersibility and rinseability can be difficult for
clinicians to evaluate based on the information on the label. Many ingredients used in shampoos are multifunctional: colloidal sulphur is a keratinolytic, antibacterial and antifungal; propylene glycol is hygroscopic and acts as a humectant but is also antibacterial and can increase the percutaneous penetration of other actives. This can make it difficult to
evaluate one shampoo range compared to another. Using the product in a practical situation and monitoring the response is often the best measure of the performance of the shampoo.