Psoriasis affects more than 7.5 million people in the US with psoriasis of the scalp being one of the most prevalent among sufferers of this condition. Common symptoms of psoriasis include red, itchy and scaly skin. Scalp psoriasis closely resembles dandruff and other than being embarrassing, the itching can disrupt your sleep and increase the risk of infection and hair loss.
While there is no known cure for psoriasis, including psoriasis of the scalp, there are several ways to bring symptoms under control. A great way to get relief from an itchy scalp is to use a specially formulated shampoo for psoriasis.
If you suffer from severe psoriasis, your dermatologist will prescribe topical and/or oral treatments. Using these in combination with special shampoos can help to alleviate the symptoms of scalp psoriasis.
What Causes Scalp Psoriasis?
Researchers attribute the development of psoriasis to genes and malfunctions in the immune system. Up to 10 percent of people are born with the associated gene but only 2 percent of those with the genes will develop psoriasis.
Psoriasis is not contagious. You cannot get it by coming into contact with a person with the condition.
In most people, psoriasis of the scalp can remain inactive for years only to be triggered by certain factors such as weather changes, wounds, infections, stress and some medications.
Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis
Scales of a silvery-whitish appearance, red patches, inflammation and itching of the scalp characterize scalp psoriasis. The condition may affect a small portion of the scalp or it may spread to the entire scalp and may affect the neck and ears as well.
Mild psoriasis may only cause slight itching of the scalp. In severe cases, the itching may intensify and result in the formation of flaky skin, scaling, and large red bumps.
Although psoriasis is commonly confused with dandruff, the flakes associated with psoriasis are much larger and almost resemble seborrheic dermatitis flakes. Psoriasis flakes are often thicker and drier.
Scratching your scalp may offer temporary relief but it can exacerbate the condition and lead to thickened patches, bleeding, and risk of infection.
How To Choose a Shampoo for Scalp Psoriasis
Shampoos for psoriasis generally fall into one of three categories—essential oil based, coal tar, and medicated shampoo.
Essential Oil Based Shampoos
Shampoos containing essential oils can help with mild psoriasis. These shampoos often contain herbs and other organic ingredients such as aloe vera and tea tree oil.
Essential oil based shampoos can help in the removal of scales and in moisturizing the scalp. They are a great option for color treated hair and sensitive skin.
Coal Tar Shampoos
Coal tar shampoos help to mitigate the production of cells that irritate the scalp. These shampoos contain just 5% of coal tar and are generally safe for most people. However, opt for other shampoos if you have color treated hair as coal tar shampoos can dull hair color.
These types of shampoos are the strongest of the three. Medicated shampoos contain a topical steroid and either zinc pyrithione, salicylic acid or ketoconazole.
These shampoos work by removing excessive scales. People with sensitive skin should use medicated shampoos moderately as some products contain harsh chemicals that can cause more flaking and irritation.
The Best Shampoo for Psoriasis
Shampoos for psoriasis vary by their formulation and strength. The best shampoo will largely depend on your symptoms. We have researched some of the best psoriasis shampoos and settled on the top five based on their effectiveness and ingredients.
This medicated shampoo is one of Dermarest’s many psoriasis products.
The shampoo contains a combination of 3% salicylic acid and zinc to give you relief from scalp psoriasis by minimizing scaling, itching, and flaking.
The shampoo works to moisturize both the hair and scalp to prevent dryness after using the shampoo. A special zinc formulation prevents redness associated with scalp psoriasis. This shampoo is non-greasy and it will therefore not clog your hair follicles.
- Prevents scalp redness
- Stops scalp irritation and flaking
- Contains natural moisturizing ingredients
- Pleasant subdued smell
- Requires consistent use to see results
- Results take long to show
- Prolonged use can weaken hair
Triton is one of the most popular coal tar shampoos and for good reasons.
This conditioning shampoo contains a 20% coal tar and USP solution that works to minimize scalp redness, scaling, and itching. Coal tar works by mitigating excessive production of skin cells associated with chronic conditions such as psoriasis.
It is also effective at preventing the symptoms of scalp psoriasis from returning. When you first use the Triton shampoo, symptoms may worsen before eventually resolving. This is common with many coal tar products.
The shampoo has a cool herbal scent to eliminate the coal tar smell but the smell is still noticeable in this product. Using a sweet or fresh scented conditioner may help to eliminate the grease and unpleasant smell left by this shampoo.
- Powerful formulation but does not burn
- Contains conditioning and revitalizing ingredients such as collagen
- Softens hair and adds volume • Suitable for color treated hair
- Overpowering smell
- Greasy formulation
- Contains parabens
- May increase cancer risk
The Healthy Hair Plus shampoo contains jojoba, peppermint, and emu oils, which are excellent for nourishing both the hair and the scalp.
This shampoo helps to minimize redness and scalp inflammation. Peppermint and emu oils have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the skin and reduce flaking.
Emu oil promotes penetration of moisture, nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and botanicals to the scalp to stimulate healthy hair growth. Other ingredients present include mint and menthol, which promote skin cell rejuvenation and add to the shampoo’s fresh scent.
- Contains natural ingredients that are gentler than medicated shampoos
- Doubles as body and face wash
- Lathers easily
- Keratin can mitigate hair loss, which is common among those with psoriasis
- Cool, fresh scent
- Costlier compared to other shampoos
- Mint may cause a stinging sensation
- Contains sodium laureth which can increase scalp irritation in some users
Wild Natural’s psoriasis shampoo is one of the gentlest shampoos on the market. It does not contain fragrance, parabens, sulfate or other harsh ingredients making it safe for the whole family to use.
In place of sulfate, this shampoo contains coconut oil as a lathering agent. Another wonderful ingredient contained in this shampoo is organic aloe vera, which penetrates deep into the scalp to soothe and moisturize an itchy scalp.
Manuka honey with its antibacterial properties helps to repair damaged skin cells while cehami stop redness and itching, which are characteristic of psoriasis.
- Results are visible within a short time
- Softens and moisturizes hair
- Free of harsh chemicals
- Pleasant smell
- Comparably costlier
- Lacks medicated ingredients to relieve symptoms of severe psoriasis
- Does not lather much
While psoriasis is not a health-threatening condition, it can affect daily life, especially in severe cases. Avoiding triggers and consistent and correct use of treatments can help to alleviate symptoms.
Medicated, coal tar or essential oil-based shampoos can help greatly in managing symptoms of scalp psoriasis. Depending on severity, results may take a little bit longer to see with these psoriasis shampoos but in the end, your scalp will definitely thank you for it.