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What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

There are numerous types of psoriasis, and one of them is scalp psoriasis.

Scalp Psoriasis occurs in the scalp by its name and causes some extreme itchy, sore, and scaly white and red patches.

But don’t you worry, as this one is not a communicable disease, meaning this disease is not transferable by touch, air, or anything.

There are several options for treating Scalp Psoriasis, but more than that is the prevention that can be done to avoid future episodes.

Scalp psoriasis is an inflammatory disease caused by the scalp skin that affects the adult population aged 15 to 25.

But scalp psoriasis can be found in children too, and it is seen that this skin disease touches the peak around 5 – 8 years old in children.

What Are the Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis?

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

For many patients, this is an embarrassing condition, and many of them feel ashamed.

This happens because of the flaking scales and severe dandruff that goes with it.

Some people are susceptible to losing hair with it, the main symptom is the dry and itchy scalp but others report having no symptoms at all.

It tends to be a chronic problem lasting for many years that tends to come and go with some severity.

What Treatments Are More Efficient for Scalp Psoriasis?

Before discussing treatment options, it is important to remember that most treatments don’t start working until you are using them regularly for at least a couple of weeks.

So persistence is key on this one.

The first thing you can try is special medicated shampoos, it is a cheaper solution, and you can buy over the counter.

They work by removing the scales and proceeding to treat the inflammation and the itch.

An example is Ionil “T” shampoo, which contains coal tar and salicylic acid.

These work best if you rub them well in the scalp; wait for 5 to 10 minutes, then rinse and apply again.

Rinse after another 5 minutes, and then you can use your normal shampoo and conditioner afterward if you don’t like the smell of it.

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

You can use these daily but if they start to hurt your scalp, drop it down to once or twice weekly.

An alternative is to use a plain coal tar shampoo like Polytar Plus if you don’t have too many scales on your scalp.

This can be used just like the prior solution.

Coal tar preparations are a solution that has been around for quite some time, and they tend to work very well, but they are a bit messy, and the smell is something that might not please everyone.

Another type of treatment can be medicated anti-fungal shampoos; these are very helpful to dandruff or seborrheic dermatitis.

Despite not being so good for Scalp Psoriasis as the coal tar preparations, they can help a little bit as well.

Medicated shampoos need to be left on the scalp for longer periods than a regular shampoo.

Ideally, you need to wet your hair at least 10 minutes before you apply the shampoo.

Once the shampoo has been applied, massage it gently into your scalp, leave it for another 10 minutes, and then rinse it off to use any normal shampoo or conditioner of your preference.

What Solution There Is for More Severe Cases of Scalp Psoriasis?

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

For these cases, the next best options are left in the scalp applications. In the first instance, you can try a prescription gel such as Daivobet.

This is both a topical steroid and a vitamin D analog that reduces the skin’s itching and redness.

You apply the gel to your scalp at night and then wash it off in the morning.

Typically you should use these up to two or three times per week, otherwise, you’ll notice your scalp psoriasis getting worse.

There is also an ointment called Coco-Scalp which you can get over the counter, it contains a combination of coal tar, salicylic acid, and sulfur which is particularly effective.

It is applied by using a small amount on your scalp and massaging it gently.

Leave on at least for one hour and then shampoo it off later.

It is important to mention that this product stains a little bit, so if you have any jewelry or clothing that you don’t want to stain, please remember to take it off.

You’ll want to use this daily until your skin and scalp start to improve, and then you can reduce it down to once weekly.

What if Nothing Works for My Scalp Psoriasis?

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

Finally, if the previous solutions aren’t doing any effect, there are other options you can always try.

There are treatments like UVB-Combs that you can use on your scalp, and depending on your situation, you might also want to talk to your dermatologist about tablets that target your whole body.

Examples of such include Acitretin or Methotrexate, these might be an effective solution if none of the above work.

Does Scalp Psoriasis Cause Hair Loss?

Scalp Psoriasis appears as white and red itchy scales that turn into slightly raised bumps combined to form plaques on the scalp.

As the disease becomes severe, it can also cause a loss of scalp hair.

Does Scalp Psoriasis Prevent hair growth?

Although the scalp is thick skin, the itchy and rough scalp is caused by intense rubbing, leading to hair fall as a result.

But nothing to worry about; lost hair will return if the disease remains controlled and the scalp is looked after properly. 

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

There is a myth that leads people to believe that scalp psoriasis is nothing but extreme dryness and dandruff of the scalp and most people who are not aware of the seriousness of this issue don’t give it much attention.

However, when the problem exceeds a whole new level and starts to cover the forehead, neck, or area around the ears, people should consult a professional.

Otherwise, they will keep implementing their own treatment methods to eradicate dandruff, which is not the main problem.

Meanwhile, researchers have proven that scalp psoriasis is caused by an issue related to the immune system. It is known that the skin goes through a process called cell turnover.

And in this process, the skin cells grow rapidly and rise to the surface of the skin.

This process normally happens over the course of a month, but in people who have psoriasis, it happens over the course of just a few days, leading to those dry thick, scaly patches on the scalp.

What Are the Causes of Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp Psoriasis like other types of psoriasis on the skin is related to the genetic anomalies that affect parts of the immune system, and hence the disease takes over the skin.

Psoriasis is known to develop when the immune system sends a wrong signal to the body.

The signals are sent to the cells, and hence the cell production there is multiplied, leading to excessive cell production on the skin’s surface, and scaly whites on the skin are formed.

In a normal person’s scalp, the cell formation takes weeks and usually a month, but people with psoriasis have the cell formation multiplied, and it happens over the course of a few days.

This makes it quite difficult for the skin to shed the excessive cells produced.

The cause for this is still unknown; what most researchers suggest is that there is a connection link.

It can be related to someone in the family with scalp psoriasis or any psoriasis; for that reason, you have a higher risk of developing this extremely stressful scalp psoriasis.

Keeping in mind that the scalp is a heavy hair-bearing area, and this is why there are issues and delays in its diagnosis and treatment. 

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

Undoubtedly, some risk factors trigger this problem’s initial development in genetically defected individuals.

But the thing that we hear the most about scalp psoriasis is “emotional stress.”

However, no scientifically proven studies show that stress even plays a causal or at least is the reason to exacerbate psoriasis.

Risk factors that contribute to Scalp Psoriasis

A lot of reasons are there that might be the ones to increase further and intensify the disease but they are not the real causes.

These might include:

  • deep injury on the skin, such as a burn, cut, or bruises
  • infection, or strep throat
  • Being stressed may worsen the symptoms or trigger them for the first time.
  • the use of some medications that might trigger the disease for the first time, such as Indomethacin, which is primarily used for treating arthritis, or Quinidine, a cardio-related medication
  • Allergies that attack the skin
  • Extremely dry or cold weather conditions

The factors that are proven or are connected somehow to affect the immune system are:

Family history

Family history is the main and a proven risk factor as this condition runs in genetics that is family.

Having one parent or grandparent with psoriasis clearly increases your risk of inheriting the disease, while having both of the parents with psoriasis makes you the one with even more risk.


Smoking tobacco and consumption of alcohol not only increases your risk of acquiring psoriasis but can also be the reason that increases the severity of the disease.

Smoking may also be a huge contributor in triggering the initial development of the disease.

Important Scalp Psoriasis Triggers to Avoid

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

Some people may be free from any symptoms for many years until this disease is triggered by the usual factors.

Common scalp psoriasis triggers may include the following things:

  • Infections at some point might become dangerous and start affecting the skin in the form of scalp psoriasis.
  • As the extremely dry and cold weather causes dandruff and rough dry skin conditions so this might lead to psoriasis.
  • Skin injuries such a deep cut scratch, bug bites, or sunburns might become a trigger
  • Stress affects the immune system and this disease is also a result of a default in the immune system
  • Smoking
  • Heavy and regular alcohol consumption
  • Medications that alter blood pressure, for cardio, arthritis, and a few antimalarial drugs
  • Rapid withdrawal from the use of corticosteroids

How To Prevent Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp Psoriasis tends to damage your scalp making it extremely and painfully itchy and unbearable doesn’t seem to spare hair on it.

Scalp Psoriasis usually results in hair loss, due to the rough scalp and weak roots.

However, this hair loss is only temporary.

As you might accidentally scratch your head harshly to relieve the annoying itching caused by scaling. This causes your hair to fall out.

Sometimes, when we forcefully try to remove the scales to clear our scalp, the hair falls out, and it repeats, and thus hair loss is there.

But if you find an effective and long-term solution to this problem, your hair will grow back normally for sure.

To prevent the annoying scalp itching that results in hair loss, try to follow these tips:

  • Use a conditioner regularly to keep your scalp moisturized and peaceful.
  • Limit the use of heating tools, such as blow dryers, straighteners, or tongs, when styling your hair.
  • Make use of hair products that contain menthol in them so that it gives off a cooling effect.
  • Make a habit of pressing a wet towel or ice against the itchy scalp.
  • Include more electrolytes in your diet to fortify your body and protect from regular infections.

How To Treat Scalp Psoriasis?

What Can You Do About Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis is somewhat hectic to treat because the scalp that is covered with sufficient hair acts as a major barrier for any medications.

It requires a lot of patience and effort to find the best suitable treatment that works well with you.

However, the good news is that there are many treatment options available for scalp psoriasis. Some are as follows:

OTC Products

Over-the-counter (OTC) products are a good source of managing the mild symptoms of scalp psoriasis.

The two main active ingredients to check-in OTC products will be salicylic acid and tar.

This can be either wood or coal tar. Salicylic type of acid is known to soften the plaques and tough scales formed and remove them gently from the skin.

Moreover, using tar on your hair might sound a bit strange but it helps to slow down cell growth. 

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments mean the usage of professionally recommended medicated shampoos, steroids and tars.

As here we are discussing the scalp psoriasis and hair is a big obstacle in the way for treating the scalp with some topical treatment.

Your dermatologist or any other professional would prescribe you the shampoo and its proper usage and how frequently it should be used so that the topical treatments effect gradually to treat psoriasis.

UV light

Another solution to eradicate or at least lessen scalp psoriasis, the use of ultraviolet (UV) rays is recommended. It helps as well to slow down skin cell growth.

Photo-therapy devices that are built for scalp psoriasis have integrated combs that help UV rays reach the scalp.

Oral treatments

Oral treatments and biologics are often used to cure scalp psoriasis on areas beyond your scalp that is neck or around the ears.

It also helps when no other treatment option is working on you.

Herbal Treatments

Some herbal treatments also help gradually in easing out on your itching or treating the scalp psoriasis in the long term.

  • Oatmeal
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Aloe Vera gel
  • Tea tree oil shampoo
  • Dead sea salts
  • Turmeric


Scalp Psoriasis is not an easy thing to handle, but thanks to modern medicine and many trials throughout the years, there are already some effective methods for dealing with it.

Even with those, it should not be a neglected disease, as its symptoms can have devastating consequences.

Always follow your doctor’s advice and embrace Scalp Psoriasis wisely.