Psoriasis is a serious condition that affects more than 8 million people in the U.S. The disease creates raised “plaques” or “scales” on a person’s body when skin cells don’t shed normally. Those lesions can be itchy, painful or just plain bothersome to deal with — especially when they appear on a person’s scalp.
“Treatments can include shampoos, topical medications, ultraviolet light treatments, oral systemic medications and biologic medications,” says Abby Van Voorhees, M.D., a professor and chair of dermatology at Eastern Virginia Medical School and emeritus chair of the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Medical Board.
The best thing you can do is talk to a dermatologist to figure out the right option (or more likely, combination of treatments) for you, but in the meantime, we’ve rounded up a list of some doctor-approved shampoos that might help, as well as tips on how to pick one.
First thing’s first: look at the ingredient list. “If psoriasis is limited, and one is going to manage with shampoo alone, then products with tar or salicylic acid are preferred,” says Dr. Van Voorhees. “No one knows how tar works; in fact, we’re not even sure what ingredients in tar are effective, but tar has been used for psoriasis for over a hundred years and probably works as an anti-inflammatory agent.” While some people have raised concerns that tar might put you at risk for cancer, research shows no link between the two. “Salicylic acid shampoos are good if someone has a lot of scaling since they tend to remove some of the scaling in a gentle way,” says Dr. Van Voorhees. “The key with both is to leave them in contact with the scalp for about five minutes because if they are rinsed out too quickly, then they don’t work.”
Whether you’re using a shampoo or another hair product, make sure it doesn’t cause any irritation. “Psoriasis has a property that if the skin is irritated, it makes more psoriasis,” explains Dr. Van Voorhees. One helpful tool is the National Psoriasis Foundation’s Seal of Recognition program, which features “over-the-counter products that have been created or intended to be non-irritating and safe for those living with psoriatic disease, as well as for those with severe sensitive skin or joint mobility limitations.”
Below, you’ll find some of the best shampoos for scalp psoriasis:
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below
T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Extra Strength
“This is a perennial dermatologist favorite,” says Annie Gonzalez, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at Riverchase Dermatology in Miami. “This formula contains Neutar® (1% Coal Tar), proven to control flaky, itchy scalp for hours after it’s rinsed out.”
Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo + Conditioner
“This has a zinc complex and 3% salicylic acid,” says Gretchen Frieling, M.D., a triple board-certified dermatopathologist in the Boston area. “It packs a punch by attacking multiple symptoms of scalp psoriasis by addressing redness, itching and even severe flaking. The salicylic acid is essential because it works to remove scales and soften scalp psoriasis plaques — even those that are thick. An added benefit is that this enables topical medications to more deeply penetrate the scalp post-shampoo.”
“This product has salicylic acid to efficiently break down the scales so they’re easier to eliminate without damaging the hair or agitating the scalp,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “This shampoo is also very good for those with very crusty scales that are even more difficult to get rid of.”
5% Coal Tar Psoriasis Shampoo
“The 5% Coal Tar in the shampoo functions to preclude scale build-up and skin-cell growth,” says Dr. Frieling. “This reduces redness, itchiness and inflammation. The shampoo should be left on for 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to penetrate for maximum effectiveness.”
Clinical Strength Seborrheic Dermatitis Treatment
Head & Shoulders
“This shampoo contains 1% selenium sulfide,” says Dr. Gonzalez. “This ingredient reduces skin flaking through its antifungal and oil-controlling abilities. As a bonus, it combats excess oil which can exacerbate flaking and itchiness.”
This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. You may be able to find more information about this and similar content at piano.io
Advertisement – Continue Reading Below