How Do You Treat Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis treatment with shampoo.

Scalp Psoriasis is a common skin condition which shows up on a person’s scalp. If you suffer from this inflammatory disease, you may notice powdery or white flakes on the top of your head. These cause itching and discomfort. While many people with psoriasis will experience symptoms on their scalp, others with a more severe disease may have psoriasis on the forehead and even around the facial area.

Can I Find a Cure for My Scalp Psoriasis?

It is possible to treat your scalp and reduce or eliminate the flaking and itching. To date, there is no cure though so it will take regular maintenance to keep your scalp looking and feeling good. The first step is good scalp care. If you DO wash your hair every day, then you have an opportunity to treat your scalp as well. Even if you are only washing your hair once a week, be sure to use the correct shampoo and techniques as described below.

But if your scalp psoriasis is very severe, you may need professional help to manage it. Treatments depend on several factors—how severe one’s scalp is affected, what you have already tried before and if you have psoriasis elsewhere on your body.  

The medications available for Scalp Psoriasis come as topical liquids, oral pills, or as injections. It is best to get a personal consultation with your doctor to assess your scalp situation.

Treatment: What to Expect and How to Do It

Those who suffer severe Scalp Psoriasis and need special treatments can visit our California Dermatology and Clinical Research Institute. We offer effective treatments that will help you regain a healthy and vibrant scalp, resulting in healthier hair.

If you want to try over-the-counter treatments first, we recommend buying products with salicylic acid or coal tar. These are active ingredients that help reduce the excessive cell growth that is part of psoriasis. When trying DIY treatments at home, here are some important steps to take:

1. Use a wide-toothed comb and gently comb out your hair strands. Starting from the scalp, this loosens the scales, making them easier to remove.

2. Once your scalp and hair are wet, use your fingertips to massage the scalp and loosen as much of the flakes (We call them scales.) as possible. Try not to pick at your skin but rub strongly to help loosen the excess dry skin. Rinse your hair and scalp at this point to wash away scales that you have loosened.

3. Shampoo your hair with one of the shampoo treatments you have purchased. Here are the steps to successful shampooing for psoriasis:

a. Remember that the shampoo is doing two things: cleaning your hair like all shampoos do AND putting medication on your scalp.

b. So, apply the shampoo as per the directions, massage it into your hair to lather it and rub it into your scalp to medicate your scalp.

c. Now, wait! Yes, wait. 5 minutes. For the best scalp treatment, it is required that the medications “soak in.” Just rubbing the shampoo in and then rinsing it out immediately afterward does NOT allow the medication to work.

d. While you are waiting for 5 minutes, you can perform other shower or bath tasks like washing elsewhere, shaving, etc.

e. Once the 5 minutes are over, rinse your hair and scalp. Rinse your hair extensively but rinse your scalp just a bit. This allows the medication to stay in contact with your scalp skin longer.

4. One more thing: If you don’t like the way the medicated shampoo makes your hair feel or you want to use conditioner, go ahead and wash your hair again with your favorite shampoo or use your conditioner as you normally would. Try to avoid excessive rinsing of the scalp and just wash/rinse the hair as much as possible. That way, you are doing what you want to your hair and keeping the scalp medicated.

Other Available Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis

There are a number of other products which have been proven to reduce flakiness and inflammation on your scalp. One well-studied product is coal tar. Coal tar comes in shampoo and in solution to apply directly to the scalp. Coal tar has been shown in many studies to be beneficial for scalp psoriasis and, despite some reports of risks of other diseases, coal tar is widely regarded as safe. The biggest problem with coal tar is the smell. You CAN use other products after coal tar to help mask or eliminate the smell. You can also use coal tar WITH salicylic acid products too.

After these OTC products, there are a number of prescription medications specifically for scalp psoriasis. In addition, most of the systemic medications (pills and injections) that treat body psoriasis are very beneficial for scalp psoriasis too.

For effective scalp psoriasis treatment, remedies and recommendations, contact us for counseling. The California Dermatology and Clinical Research Institute is dedicated to helping you solve your scalp psoriasis problem. Give us a call at (760) 203-3839.