Tips For Treating Scalp Psoriasis
In addition to finding a specially formulated shampoo, here are a few other things you can do to keep scalp psoriasis symptoms in check:
- Shampoo your hair as often as you can. This will help alleviate buildup and itchiness of the scalp. However, keep in mind that shampooing every day isnt suitable for all hair types.
- Limit stress, alcohol, and smoking. Along with irritants in your hair products, scalp psoriasis flare-ups can also be triggered by stress, alcohol consumption, and smoking. Limiting stress and intake of these substances may help keep things under control.
- Try aloe vera.Aloe vera gel has anti-inflammatory properties and may be soothing. You can try applying it to your scalp, or look for it as an ingredient in your shampoo.
- Use baking soda.Baking soda is great for an itchy scalp. One tablespoon of baking soda mixed with a cup of water should do the trick. Apply the mixture to your scalp to relieve itching and irritation.
- Apply natural oils. These will help keep your scalp moisturized and are filled with fats to keep the scalp healthy. Coconut oil is a great oil to start with.
Steroid Creams Or Ointments
Steroid creams or ointments are commonly used to treat mild to moderate psoriasis in most areas of the body. The treatment works by reducing inflammation. This slows the production of skin cells and reduces itching.
Topical corticosteroids range in strength from mild to very strong. Only use them when recommended by your doctor.
Stronger topical corticosteroids can be prescribed by your doctor and should only be used on small areas of skin or on particularly thick patches. Overusing topical corticosteroids can lead to skin thinning.
What To Do For Infection
If your scalp psoriasis becomes infected, you may have crusting, redness, warmth, tenderness, and sometimes swelling of your lymph nodes. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic treatment for this problem.
National Psoriasis Foundation: “Specific locations: scalp,” “Scalp Psoriasis,” and “Over-the-Counter Topicals,” “Traditional systemic medications,” “Moderate to severe psoriasis: Biologic drugs.”
Handa, S. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2010.
Skin Therapy Letter: “Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis with Emphasis on Calcipotriol Plus Betamethasone Dipropionate Gel .”
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Shampoos And Scalp Medications
For the scalp, products that you apply directly to the scalp are a good starting point. Medicated salicylic acid and coal tar shampoos are over the counter. If those dont work, prescription topicals are available.
Medicines meant for use on the scalp usually come in shampoo, liquid, or foams, for easier application through your hair. Leave-on products work better than shampoos, but they might not be practical for styled hair.
Some common topical prescription medicines for psoriasis are below.
When you first see a doctor for scalp psoriasis, youll probably get a prescription for a topical steroid. Steroids work quickly to calm inflammation and improve psoriasis symptoms. Unfortunately, psoriasis tends to flare when you stop using them, and its not safe to keep using topical steroids continuously. Side effects of topical steroids can include:
Thinning of the skin
To avoid this, your doctor might rotate your treatment or have you alternate medications. Topical steroids commonly prescribed for psoriasis include:
There is data that the combination works better than either one alone. But since these products contain betamethasone, there is a risk of steroid side effects if you use them continuously for too long.
What Are Some Dos And Donts If You Have Scalp Psoriasis
If you have scalp psoriasis, proper skin care is important. It can improve the symptoms and help you avoid making things worse.
Shampoo with something that softens the scale like a salicylic-acid-based shampoo.
Brush scale away gently without traumatizing the scalp.
Use medication when you need to.
Use a conditioner every time you wash your hair.
Use a humidifier in cold temperatures.
Dont pick picking can cause psoriasis to intensify and create scarring.
Avoid blow drying.
Minimize coloring, perms, and relaxer.
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What Is Dandruff The Causes And Symptoms
Dandruff is a very common condition of the scalp that results in dry skin flakes, which end up caught in a persons hair or on their clothes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology , it generally doesnt require medical treatment, but it can be itchy and uncomfortable, as well as embarrassing to those having to deal with it. Here are the causes:
A yeast imbalance.Theres a type of yeast in all of our bodies called malassezia, part of our bodys normal microbiome, says Dr. Gohara. Dandruff, or seborrhea, is caused by an overgrowth of that.
An oily scalp. Dandruff can also be associated with increased oil production of the scalp, says Dr. Gohara, evidenced by greasy hair or an oily scalp.
A scalp thats overly dry. Dandruff can also be the result of a too-dry scalp, says Dr. Gohara. Also, flaking can be caused by using too many products in the hair, or not washing products out properly but this isnt the same thing as dandruff.
Coal Tar Is One Of The Oldest Psoriasis Remedies
Best for: Mild to severe psoriasis
Why it works: We actually dont know exactly how coal tar works, but its one of the oldest treatments for psoriasis, Daveluy says. In mild scalp psoriasis, it may be the only treatment necessary to keep it under control.
If your scalp psoriasis is more severe, you can combine coal tar with other treatments. Talk to your doctor about how best to use coal tar products. You might need to leave the shampoo in your hair for several minutes, several hours, or even overnight.
Dr. Menter sometimes advises patients to put the product in their hair, cover it with a shower cap , and then use a heat treatment that might help the shampoo work best.
In addition to shampoos, coal tar is an ingredient in ointments, creams, gels, and soaps.
Because it can irritate, redden, and dry the skin, you should test products containing coal tar in a small area at first.
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What To Look For In A Psoriasis Shampoo
One of the top recommendations for psoriasis shampoos, according to Rachel Maiman, MD, board-certified dermatologist at in NYC, is clobetasol, a topical steroid thats only available by prescription. Dr. Maiman explains that corticosteroids are helpful for psoriasis because they reduce immune system overactivity, which slows the rapid production of skin cells that causes excessive flaking. With that said, there are over-the-counter psoriasis shampoos that can be beneficial as well. Here are the ingredients the experts say to seek out in your shampoo formula:
Treatment: Where To Start
The most common treatments for mild cases are medications that you put directly on your scalp. If you have a more severe case or have psoriasis elsewhere on your body, you may need a medication that treats your whole body. You can take these medications by mouth or injection.
If your psoriasis doesn’t respond well after repeated use of one medication, your doctor may replace or combine it with another type of treatment.
One of the first steps is to soften and remove scales. This makes it easier for medications to do their job.
- Apply over-the-counter products to your scalp to help soften scales and make them easier to peel off. Look for products with the active ingredients salicylic acid, lactic acid, urea, zinc pyrithione, or selenium sulfide.
- Gently loosen the scales with a brush or fine-toothed comb.
- Shampoo your scalp to remove the scales, using a salicylic acid shampoo or soap.
- Apply thick creams to your scalp while it’s still damp to hold in the moisture.
To apply medication:
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Stress Lack Of Sleep And Other Lifestyle Factors
Some patients will report that certain dietary habits or stress make skin flaking worse, while others say that those factors have no impact. For example, in one study published in 2015 in the journal BMC Dermatology about half of patients surveyed said that stress caused psoriasis to get worse and could pinpoint a stressful period of their life that was linked to the onset of their disease.
The thing about psoriasis is that it has a mind of its own, says Dr. Wechsler. Psychological stress and lack of sleep certainly can make a flaking flare worse. Theres a vicious cycle where the symptoms of the disease make you stressed, anxious, and down, and you dont sleep as well. That, in turn, compromises skin healing, and the cycle repeats, she says.
What Causes Dandruff Vs Psoriasis Of The Scalp
There’s disagreement among dermatologists about what causes dandruff. Some believe it’s simply a buildup of the stratum corneumthe top layer of skinthat can occur if people don’t wash their hair very frequently. “Seborrheic dermatitis might be a bigger issue for African Americans because of some hair care practices,” explains Steve Feldman, MD, professor of dermatology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina. “Because their hair would get dry if they shampooed very frequently, many African Americans use oils on their scalp and may only shampoo once a week or even less.”
Another possible cause of dandruff may be overgrowth of a fungusa type of yeast called Malassezia. “We all have various types of yeast on our scalp. It may be that some people’s bodies have a reaction to that,” says Dr. Feldman, who sits on the medical board of the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Or maybe you’re having a reaction to a hair care product. “An itchy, dry, and flaky scalp could be telling you that you need to do a better job of rinsing the shampoo from your hair,” says the American Academy of Dermatology . Leaving styling products on your scalp for too long without washing can also be irritating and lead to itching and flakes. AAD adds that some people may have an allergy to a shampoo, conditioner, or other product that touches the scalp.
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Home Remedies For Dandruff
There are some home remedies that might improve dandruff symptoms. Most of them are items you might have in your pantry. You can try applying them to your scalp and see if they help, though you should stop using them if you notice any irritation.
Some popular home remedies for dandruff include:
- Baking soda: Apply baking soda to wet hair. Let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing.
- Apple cider vinegar: Mix vinegar with equal parts water. Apply it to your scalp and allow it to sit for up to an hour, then rinse.
- Coconut oil: Apply several teaspoons of coconut oil to your scalp. Let it sit for up to an hour. Remove it with shampoo.
- Aloe vera: Massage a small amount of aloe into your scalp before washing your hair.
- Olive oil: Massage a few drops of olive oil into your scalp at bedtime and cover with a cap overnight. Shampoo normally in the morning.
Ways To Stop Your Scalp From Itching With Braids
Most African women choose to do braids because it requires less maintenance and represents their culture and personal style preference. However, braids can be a troublemaker if not maintained well.
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Scalp Psoriasis Can Be Treated
If you suffer from an itchy scalp or have flaking problems you may have scalp psoriasis. Other symptoms include redness and even scaly buildup. You may see these symptoms around the hair line, behind your ears or throughout your scalp. Scalp psoriasis affects everyone differently but even if you suffer with one of these symptoms you surely want to know how to stop scalp psoriasis.
Who Gets Seborrheic Dermatitis
About 11% of the population has seborrheic dermatitis. It occurs most often in infants younger than three months old and in adults ages 30 to 60. It is more common in men than in women, and in Caucasians more than African Americans.
If you are born with naturally oily skin, you are more likely to get this type of dermatitis. A history of psoriasis in your family makes you vulnerable as well. If you live in a dry, cold region, the weather doesnt cause the seborrheic dermatitis, but it does make it worse.
If you have these health issues, youre more prone to seborrheic dermatitis:
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What Are The Most Common Scalp Psoriasis Symptoms
Youre probably wondering, What does scalp psoriasis looks like? Generally, you might notice flaking or scaly patches of raised skin on your scalp first, Dr. Bhutani says. These patches can also be inflamed, thick, and swollen6, and sometimes extend to the forehead, the back of the neck, or behind the ears. On light skin tones, psoriasis plaques on the scalp typically appear pink or red with silvery scales. For people with dark skin, these lesions may range in color and appear salmon-y pink, silvery white, violet, or brown, depending on your specific skin tone7.
But the signs of scalp psoriasis go far beyond the physical effects. Scalp psoriasis, honestly, causes some of the largest impact on quality of life, Dr. Bhutani says. Thats because severe symptoms can interrupt sleep, create feelings of anxiety, and hurt a persons self-esteem, especially if the scalp psoriasis plaques are clearly visible.
In addition to plaques, other scalp psoriasis symptoms include6:
- An extremely itchy scalp that can be distracting
- A burning sensation or soreness on your scalp
- Cracked and/or bleeding skin from scratching too much or from having a dry scalp
- Temporary hair loss if you excessively touch your scalp or attempt to pick off your scales, which can forcibly remove hair follicles
What To Do About Dandruff
Most cases of dandruff can be easily banished using an over-the-counter medicated shampoo, conditioner, lotion or foam, Mayo Clinic and AAD point out. There are several different ingredients that target the flakes, and you may need to experiment a bit to find which one works best for you.
“I like tar shampoos, which are good for decreasing inflammation,” says Dr. Rokhsar, adding a caution that the tar may discolor blond or light hair. Another ingredient he likes is salicylic acid, “which is good for decreasing flakiness.”
Dr. Sodha recommends zinc or selenium-based products, both antifungal. Ketaconozole is another antifungal ingredient in some over-the-counter anti-dandruff shampoos. “Use the product two to four times a week for a few weeks, and then if you see improvement or resolution, switch to once or twice a week for maintenance.”
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To Stop Scalp Psoriasis You Must Continue Treatment
Right now there is no cure for psoriasis. The only thing you can do is treat and control the symptoms of your psoriasis. If you use quality products and continue to use them on a regular basis you should be able to make your scalp look and feel normal again. To stop scalp psoriasis you have to stop the symptoms that come from scalp psoriasis.
Hair Care Can Trigger An Outbreak
Any hair care that causes pain can trigger a new outbreak of psoriasis on the scalp. Maybe the hair is combed a little too vigorously. Perhaps the water for the shampoo is too hot. Or there is an allergic reaction to a dye or a hair care product. When this happens, the nerves in the scalp generate a neurotransmitter called substance P, the pain chemical, and the skin gets a signal to start an incredibly rapid repair process. Skin can produce 10,000 times as many new skin cells as are needed to repair microscopic damage, and redness, flaking, drying, and cracking start all over again.
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What Is Scalp Psoriasis
Since youre reading this article, chances are you already know what scalp psoriasis is, but heres a quick overview just in case.
Psoriasis can also appear on other parts of the body, including:
- back of the ears
Like other types of psoriasis, scalp psoriasis causes skin to build up and form scaly patches called plaques.
Mild cases have fine scales, while moderate cases will have thicker scales and more irritation. Severe cases result in large, thick plaques with overlying thick scales.