Scalp Treatments

Psoriasis affects everyone differently.

According to The National Psoriasis Foundation, “at least half of all the people who have psoriasis have it on their scalp.” Scalp psoriasis can range from mild to severe—small, red, rash-like bumps to thick, scaly, plaques. Scalp psoriasis stems from excessive cell growth and can lead to sheening and severe dandruff, on top of uncomfortable burning and itching.

To treat these symptoms, there are a number of consumer systemic and topical treatments appropriate for each unique case. There are also various shampoos and conditioners that can help in the daily preventative treatment of scalp psoriasis. It is important to be informed on the treatment you’ll be administering to avoid unwanted side effects and to be the most effective and proactive in preventing flare ups and outbreaks.

A great resource for all things psoriasis is the website of The National Psoriasis Foundation. The NPF provides biological, pharmaceutical, and consumer information on a wide array of treatments that might be prescribed by a dermatologist. 

But by the nature of psoriasis—the autoimmune disease that causes dry, irritated, flaky, red, scaly, plaques—there is no miracle drug. Treatment means a combined effort of medication and lifestyle methods. Diet, exercise, low stress levels, foods high in fiber, fruits, and of course, topical and systemic measures can all help reduce flare ups and ease discomfort.

Over the Counter Methods

Sometimes, Head and Shoulders just doesn’t cut it. Coal tar shampoos slow skin cell growth and can reduce itching. Most consumer brands of shampoo contain somewhere around two percent coal tar. 

Some popular consumer brands that might include products gentle enough for daily use include:

  • MG217
  • Denorex
  • Zetar
  • Neutrogena T/Gel
  • D-Psoria

Prescription Treatments

Some popular non-steroidal prescription topical agents include: Taclonex, Vectical, Tazorec and Dovonex. These are most effective if the plaques are removed, as the agent can more easily penetrate the skin. Though the chemical makeup of each of these treatments is different, the side effects are all relatively the same and include, but are not limited to, worsening of the psoriasis, reddening of skin, and in extreme cases, dermatitis. 

Lifestyle Changes

Aside from these medical and consumer treatments, incorporating certain behaviors into your daily routine and adhering to certain practices can keep outbreaks, flare ups, and symptoms at a minimum. Some psoriasis blogs have noted that by mixing certain oils into your shampoo, and keeping your scalp as moist and hydrated as possible are crucial in fighting outbreaks. The shampoo is able to better penetrate the scalp if hair is kept clean, short, and well-groomed. The more hair one has, the harder it becomes to treat scalp psoriasis.

So, ultimately, aside from avoiding all dark colored clothing, your best bet to treating scalp psoriasis and preventing dandruff and other symptoms is getting the right information, deciding what treatments are right for you, and following a generally healthy lifestyle, including a balanced diet and regular exercise.