Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes skin cells to quickly build up on the skin’s surface. For those who have lighter skin tones, it can appear pink or red with silvery white scale. On medium skin tones, it can appear salmon-colored with silvery-white scale. On darker skin tones, psoriasis could look violet with gray scale. It can also appear dark brown and difficult to see.
Psoriasis is also itchy, and sometimes the patches can be painful and may crack and bleed. Often, this condition affects the scalp, forehead, back of the ears, and neck. In this case, it’s called scalp psoriasis.
Scalp psoriasis is a chronic condition, meaning that it tends to come and go over time. Often, it’s triggered or worsened by certain factors such as:
- drinking alcohol
It’s important to treat scalp psoriasis and monitor symptoms for other conditions. Research has linked scalp psoriasis with chronic inflammation, which occurs with other health issues such as:
Most doctors recommend topical medications, light therapy, and medications that affect the entire body to treat scalp psoriasis. It can help to combine medical treatment with home remedies to help reduce scalp psoriasis symptoms.
It’s important to note that home remedies can help ease some symptoms, but they’re not proven cures. The following home treatments are generally safe and may help you reduce mild to moderate scalp psoriasis symptoms. It would be best if you speak to your doctor before starting home treatment, especially for more aggressive forms of the condition.
Aloe vera is a plant known for its skin-healing properties. Creams that contain 0.5 percent aloe can help reduce itching, inflammation, flaking, and redness on the scalp. This cream should be applied up to three times per day to keep skin moist. It may take up to a month to start feeling and seeing positive effects.
Baking soda is a quick and easy treatment for an itchy scalp. Take a small glass of water and stir in one tablespoon of baking soda. Then use a cotton pad or washcloth to apply the mixture onto the area of your head that’s affected. You can even pour the solution onto your head to relieve itching and inflammation under your hair.
Chili peppers get their heat from a compound called capsaicin. German researchers have found some evidence that products with capsaicin can help reduce the pain, redness, inflammation, and flaking caused by psoriasis. But more research is needed to understand exactly how it works.
Products containing capsaicin may sting skin. Avoid applying to open wounds and touching your eyes, genitals, mouth, and other sensitive areas after handling capsaicin cream.
Coconut or avocado oil
Coconuts and avocados are filled with healthy fats that boost skin health. Massage a few drops of either type of oil, cool or lightly heated, onto your scalp and put on a shower cap. Wait 20 minutes, remove the cap, then wash your hair as usual. This can reduce and remove some of the scaling associated with the condition.
Garlic has strong anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants that improve skin condition, while preventing skin infections. While it has a strong odor, it does appear to reduce
Mix pureed or pressed raw garlic with aloe vera cream or gel in a ratio of 1-to-1. Put the mixture on the affected area for 15 to 20 minutes. Afterward, rinse with cool water. This treatment is safe to use daily.
Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape)
Also called barberry or Oregon grape, Mahonia aquifolium is an herb that affects the body’s immune response. Because of this, researchers believe it may help treat scalp psoriasis by reducing inflammation and other symptoms. Look for creams containing
Adding a cup of raw ground unflavored oats to a warm bath and soaking for 15 minutes may help reduce your scalp psoriasis symptoms. Oats are especially effective for itching, inflammation, and flaking. Be sure to keep the affected area fully submerged when bathing.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids, taken in the form of fish oil and plant-based supplements such as flax may reduce inflammation. While the effects of omega-3s on scalp psoriasis aren’t proven, it appears safe and perhaps beneficial to take omega-3s daily.
Sea or Epsom salt
Soaking your whole body, including the affected part of your head, in warm water with dissolved sea salt or Epsom salt may reduce scalp psoriasis symptoms. Try to stay in the tub for 15 minutes and apply a moisturizing cream to your affected skin when you get out of the tub.
There are many specially made, nonmedicated over-the-counter shampoos used to treat scalp psoriasis. The most effective include those that contain 2 to 10 percent coal tar or anti-inflammatory salicylic acid. Use as directed on the bottle.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree is a plant believed to treat inflammatory skin conditions. It works as an antiseptic and can alleviate the inflammation and redness associated with scalp psoriasis. Be aware that some people are allergic and sensitive to tea tree oil, and the substance has been linked to hormone changes in some people.
Turmeric is an herb well known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Those with scalp psoriasis may reduce symptoms by taking a daily
Sunshine may help relieve some symptoms of scalp psoriasis. Put on sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 and spend 10 to 15 minutes in the sun. Consider spending time outside in the morning when the sun is less intense.
Talk to your doctor first if you’re taking medications for your scalp psoriasis, as some may make you more prone to sunburn.
Scalp and other forms of psoriasis occur when the immune system doesn’t work properly. Skin cells grow too quickly, growing within days rather than weeks. The body can’t shed these skin cells quickly enough to match the new growth. They pile up on the skin’s surface, causing psoriasis.
People with family members who have scalp psoriasis are more likely to have the condition themselves. Those with HIV, stress, obesity, and those who smoke are also more likely than others to have this condition.
Common triggers that set off or worsen flare-ups of scalp psoriasis include:
- infections, including strep throat or skin infections
- skin injuries, such as cuts, scrapes, insect bites, or severe sunburn
- alcohol use
- vitamin D deficiency
- some medications, such as lithium, high blood pressure drugs, antimalarials, and iodides
Scalp psoriasis and dermatitis are both common skin conditions affecting the scalp. These conditions share some of the same treatments and symptoms, including redness and flaky skin. However, these conditions have different causes, and your doctor will be able to tell them apart.
Signs of scalp psoriasis could include silver, violet, salmon, or red scales, depending skin tones, which often extend beyond the hairline, with itching and sometimes pain. With dermatitis, you may notice reddish skin covered by white or yellow scales, along with dandruff and itching. Treatment for psoriasis is often more aggressive than that for dermatitis.
If you suspect you have scalp psoriasis, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor. They may examine your scalp to rule out other conditions before sending you to a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment.
Scalp psoriasis is a chronic skin condition caused by issues with the immune system. While it’s important to seek medical treatment for this condition to prevent complications, you can add home remedies to your treatment plan to reduce symptoms and better manage your scalp psoriasis.