For people with mild to moderate scalp psoriasis, over-the-counter products or home remedies might work for you.
Salicylic acid, which can be found in a variety of soaps and shampoos, is frequently used to soften scales, thus making them easier to remove. But be prepared for some possible damage or hair loss; salicylic acid can weaken hair shafts, making them susceptible to breakage. However, any hair loss should be temporary.
You can also use heated olive oil to soften scales. After application to the scalp, treatment consists of wrapping the head in a towel for several hours or sitting under a hair dryer. Other over-the-counter scale-softening topical medications include ingredients such as urea, lactic acid and phenol.
Tar products -- both coal and, less frequently, wood -- are effective scalp psoriasis treatments. Tar products come in a variety of forms, but are often seen in shampoos. The drawbacks of tar products are the strong odor and staining. Tar can stain and discolor bedding, linens, clothing and white or gray hair. Tar products are massaged into the scalp and left on for a certain period of time before being rinsed off. If a tar product is used in shampoo form, try following it with a non-medicated conditioner to help eliminate the tar smell [source: National Psoriasis Foundation].
Phototherapy -- either at-home or done by a medical professional (such as with an excimer laser) -- can also be used to effectively treat scalp psoriasis. Phototherapy can be as simple as using natural sunlight. It's also possible to use a hand-held UV comb to get light treatment to the scalp. The National Psoriasis Foundation's Web site has a database that allows visitors to search for treatments that are most effective for the scalp or other body parts [source: National Psoriasis Foundation].
No matter what you choose -- prescription, over-the-counter or home remedy, it's important to note that the National Psoriasis Foundation cautions that if the treatment for scalp psoriasis seems worse than the actual disease itself, it's too harsh and changes should be made to your treatment plan [source: National Psoriasis Foundation].
For additional information or support regarding scalp psoriasis, visit the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- American Academy of Dermatology. "Understanding Scalp Psoriasis May Head Off Hair Loss." 8/8/07 (Accessed 9/26/09)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/psoriasisnet/scalp_psoriasis.html
- American Academy of Dermatology. "What is Scalp Psoriasis?" 9/9/08 (Accessed 9/25/09)http://www.skincarephysicians.com/psoriasisnet/scalp_psoriasis_overview.htm
- Hitti, Miranda. "FDA Oks New Psoriasis Drug Stelara." WebMD 9/25/09 (Accessed 9/30/09)http://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/news/20090925/fda-oks-new-psoriasis-drug-stelara
- Mayo Clinic. "Psoriasis." 4/10/09 (Accessed 9/27/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/psoriasis/DS00193
- Mayo Clinic. "Scalp Psoriasis vs. Seborrheic Dermatitis: What's the Difference?" 10/19/07 (Accessed 9/25/09)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/scalp-psoriasis/AN01177
- National Psoriasis Foundation. "Psoriatic Arthritis." (Accessed 9/30/09)http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/learn02
- National Psoriasis Foundation. "Scalp Psoriasis." (Accessed 0/29/09)http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/sublearn03_loc_scalp
- National Psoriasis Foundation. "About Psoriasis." (Accessed 9/29/09)http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/learn01
- National Psoriasis Foundation. "Treating Psoriasis. Specific Location: Scalp." (Accessed 9/29/09)http://www.psoriasis.org/netcommunity/sublearn03_loc_scalp