My doctor says I have scalp psoriasis. How do I treat it?

Scalp psoriasis, which involves red, itchy areas with silvery-white scales that often extend beyond the hairline, can be tricky to treat. Scratching can worsen the condition and your hair can prevent medication from reaching your scalp.

To improve the look and feel of your scalp:

  • Apply scale softener. A scale softener containing salicylic acid can help loosen scales on your scalp and allow medication to work better. Apply the scale softener directly to your scalp. Don't pick at your scalp scales. This can cause hair loss and trigger a scalp psoriasis flare.
  • Use medicated shampoo. Over-the-counter medicated shampoos can be effective at treating scalp psoriasis. Choose one that contains coal tar or salicylic acid to ease itchiness and remove scales. Be gentle when washing your scalp to avoid irritation.
  • Don't scratch. Scratching your scalp can make your psoriasis worse, as well as cause bleeding and hair loss. Shampoos containing coal tar or menthol can help reduce itching. If itchiness continues, your doctor might recommend that you take an oral antihistamine medication to provide relief.
  • Try topical medications. Your doctor might recommend the topical treatments anthralin, calcipotriene (Dovonex), tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage) or a combination of betamethasone and calcipotriene (Taclonex). Side effects vary. Anthralin stains anything it comes into contact with and calcipotriene, tazarotene, and betamethasone and calcipotriene can cause skin irritation. Follow your doctor's directions for when and how long to use the medication.

If your scalp psoriasis is severe, you might need a medication that affects your entire body (systemic). Light therapy also might be helpful. Talk to your doctor to see what treatment might work best for you.

Jan. 03, 2019 See more Expert Answers

See also

  1. Arthritis
  2. Arthritis pain: Do's and don'ts
  3. Botox injections: Can they relieve arthritis pain?
  4. Can arthritis pain medications be harmful?
  5. Chapped lips: What's the best remedy?
  6. Dry skin
  7. Ease stress to reduce your psoriasis flares
  8. Exercising with arthritis
  9. Ground flaxseed
  10. Gluten sensitivity and psoriasis: What's the connection?
  11. How to heal cracked heels
  12. How to heal cracked skin at thumb tip
  13. Living better with psoriasis
  14. Psoriasis-related health risks
  15. Mayo Clinic Minute: Fingernails are clues to your health
  16. Mayo Clinic Minute: Moisturizer tips from a dermatologist
  17. Moisturizers: Options for softer skin
  18. MSM for arthritis pain: Is it safe?
  19. nail psoriasis
  20. Photodynamic therapy
  21. Prednisone risks, benefits
  22. Pregnancy and breast-feeding with psoriasis
  23. Psoriasis
  24. Psoriasis and clinical trials
  25. Psoriasis and intimacy
  26. Psoriasis and your self-esteem
  27. Psoriasis diet: Can changing your diet treat psoriasis?
  28. Identifying psoriasis triggers
  29. Psoriasis: Get the most out of your treatment
  30. Psoriasis: How can I protect my skin during a workout?
  31. Fish oil supplements
  32. Psoriasis treatment options
  33. Psoriasis: What if I get psoriatic arthritis, too?
  34. Psoriasis: What to share with your doctor
  35. Relaxation techniques
  36. Scalp psoriasis vs. seborrheic dermatitis
  37. Self-esteem check
  38. Skin biopsy
  39. Skin care tips
  40. Skip flavored lip balm
  41. How to trim thickened toenails
  42. Slide show: 5 ways to thrive with psoriasis through the holidays
  43. Slide show: Caring for your skin when you have psoriasis
  44. Hand exercises for people with arthritis
  45. Joint protection
  46. Types of psoriasis
  47. Common skin rashes
  48. Stress management
  49. Time your lotions right
  50. Ward off dry skin
  51. Water exercise
  52. Alternative psoriasis treatments
  53. What are the risks of vaccinations for people living with psoriasis?
  54. White patch on skin: A cause for concern?
  55. Yucca: Can it relieve arthritis pain?