Treating Scalp Psoriasis


You may find it easiest to treat your scalp psoriasis in the bath or shower once or twice a week. The warm, moist air will help soften the scales and make them easier to remove.

Wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Then rub mineral oil, olive oil, or coal tar on your scalp.

Leave it on for about 15 minutes, or cover your head with a shower cap and leave it on overnight. Then wash it off completely with a gentle cleanser like Dove Sensitive Skin Unscented Beauty Bar and warm water. Follow up with a moisturizer if your skin tends to be dry.

If you have mild psoriasis, you may be able to control it by using shampoo that contains coal tar or other medications every day or two until the flare-up passes. If you have severe psoriasis, you may need a prescription medication such as anthralin or tazarotene (Tazorac). These can help slow down the growth of skin cells and ease inflammation.

Scalp psoriasis is a common skin disorder that makes raised, reddish, often scaly patches. It can pop up as a single patch or several, and can even affect your entire scalp. It can also spread to your forehead, the back of your neck, or behind your ears.

Scalp psoriasis may look like severe dandruff with dry flakes and red areas of skin. It can be itchy and sometimes painful, and it may crack and bleed.

In many cases, scalp psoriasis produces mild symptoms and is easily treated. In other cases, it can be more severe. It’s important to see a health care provider if you’re having trouble controlling scalp psoriasis or if symptoms are affecting your self-esteem or daily activities.

Scalp psoriasis affects approximately 50% of patients with psoriasis.1 It may be mild, with slight fine scaling, or more severe with thick crusted plaques covering most of the scalp. The lesions may extend beyond the hairline onto the forehead, behind the ears and onto the back of the neck. Scalp psoriasis can be very itchy and inflamed and can lead to hair loss.

The scalp is a particularly difficult area to treat since medications must penetrate through hair follicles and reach the affected skin cells located deeper in the epidermis. Topical corticosteroids are commonly used, but they can be expensive and messy and make your hair look greasy.2 Also, if used too often they can cause side effects like thinning of the skin, stretch marks or telangiectasia (tiny blood vessels that show through the skin).3

Topical calcipotriene (Taclonex) is also a common treatment for scalp psoriasis because it slows down proliferation of skin cells.4 It is available as a cream that is applied to the affected areas once daily for two weeks out of each month for up to three months.4 It doesn’t have many side effects but it can cause irritation

There are many ways to treat psoriasis, including scalp psoriasis. Treatment is based on the severity of the symptoms and the type of psoriasis you have. The most common treatment for scalp psoriasis is topical corticosteroids (these are different from anabolic steroids). Sometimes a doctor will prescribe other types of creams or ointments instead of corticosteroids.

If you have mild to moderate scalp psoriasis and you don’t want to use a medicated shampoo, try over-the-counter dandruff shampoos that contain coal tar, ketoconazole, or zinc pyrithione. If they don’t work well enough, talk to your doctor about trying a prescription-strength medicated shampoo. It’s best to use these shampoos every 2 days at first to prevent excessive dryness and then work up to daily use.

If you have severe scalp psoriasis, you may need a combination of treatments, such as topical medications and light therapy (phototherapy).

Scalp psoriasis is very common and causes red, raised, scaly patches that may extend beyond the scalp to the forehead or back of the neck or ears. It can be mild, moderate, or severe. Dryness, itching, and burning are common symptoms.

Scalp psoriasis can cause a fine scaling with thick crusty plaques which can extend beyond the hairline onto the forehead, back of the neck, and around the ears. It is often itchy and sometimes painful. It can also result in temporary hair loss.

Psoriasis occurs on the skin when cells grow too quickly, causing thickening and scaling of the skin’s outer layer. Normally, skin cells grow gradually and flake off about every 28 days. In psoriasis, new skin cells move rapidly to the surface in days rather than weeks. They pile up on the surface before they mature and shed off normally.

There are many different types of psoriasis but plaque psoriasis is by far the most common type of psoriasis with over 80% of people having this type of psoriasis.

Scalp psoriasis can be very mild or it can be severe with thick, crusted plaques covering the scalp. Itching (often severe), burning and pain are common symptoms. Patients may notice flakes of skin in their hair or on their shoulders, especially after scratching the scalp. Scratching may produce areas of hair loss and sometimes leads to infection.

Scalp psoriasis can affect your whole life. It can cause embarrassment and anxiety at work, school or play. Although not life-threatening, this disorder can be disabling and depressing for both patients and family members.

Psoriasis is not a skin infection and cannot be spread from person to person. It is a chronic (lifelong) skin condition that affects about 2% of the population. Psoriasis is the result of an over-production of skin cells that accumulate on the surface of the skin before they have a chance to mature fully. These immature cells produce the characteristic thick silvery scales that are frequently seen in scalp psoriasis, as well as redness, swelling, itching and pain.

There are a number of treatments available for scalp psoriasis. If a topical treatment alone is not effective, a combination of treatments may be used.

There are several types of topical steroids: mild, moderate and very strong. Generally, the stronger types are more effective at treating psoriasis but carry an increased risk of side-effects. Topical steroids should not be used on large areas of skin or on sensitive areas such as the face or underarms.

Very strong topical steroids should only be used under medical supervision or with close monitoring by a pharmacist.

A combination of different types of treatment is often more effective than just using one type alone. This is called ‘combination therapy’.


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