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

Scalp psoriasis is an itchy, scaly rash that often extends beyond the hairline. It can be tricky to treat. Scratching can worsen the condition. And your hair can prevent medicine 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. This allows medicine to work better. Apply the scale softener on your scalp. Don't pick at your scalp scales. This can cause hair loss or a scalp psoriasis flare.
  • Use medicated shampoo. Medicated shampoos available without a prescription 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 health care provider might suggest that you take an oral antihistamine medicine to provide relief.
  • Try prescription products for the skin. Your health care provider might suggest prescription medicine that you apply to the scalp as a shampoo, foam, lotion or gel. Examples include fluocinonide (Lidex), anthralin, taclonex (Dovonex, Sorilux), tazarotene (Tazorac, Avage, others) or a combination of betamethasone and calcipotriene. Side effects vary. Anthralin stains almost anything it touches. Anthralin, calcipotriene, tazarotene, and the combination of betamethasone and calcipotriene can irritate the skin. Follow your health care provider's advice on when and how long to use the medicine.

If your scalp psoriasis is severe, you might need medicine in the form of an injection. Light therapy also might be helpful. Talk with your health care provider to see what treatment might work best for you.

Feb. 15, 2023 See more Expert Answers

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