Best Scalp Psoriasis Treatment

October 26, 2020     

Have you noticed any powdery flakes on your scalp? You may have a skin condition known as scalp psoriasis. Most people have psoriasis on their scalp since the skin cells there grow too quickly, forming thick, powdery flakes called plaques. The surrounding area can become red and itchy. Scalp psoriasis can cause anything from light scaling to scabs all over the scalp. Sometimes it spreads to the forehead, nose, chin, or behind the ears.

If you have a little scaling, it can get better by itself. However, sometimes you need treatment. There is no cure for psoriasis, but there are steps you can take to treat it. Your treatment will depend on:

  • Severity
  • Reactions to previous treatment
  • Has psoriasis spread to anywhere else on your body
  • How much hair you have

This article provided by Cosmosure Clinic gives information about scalp psoriasis treatment. Before that, let us see general information about scalp psoriasis.

What is scalp psoriasis?

A psoriasis is a group of autoimmune diseases that affect the skin. Autoimmune diseases cause the immune system to target the wrong cells or overreact to harmless triggers.

In psoriasis, the autoimmune activity causes skin cells to grow faster than usual, creating flakes and skin lesions. The appearance of the lesions depends on the type of psoriasis. The only kind of psoriasis that affects the scalp is plaque psoriasis.

Symptoms of psoriasis on the scalp

The most common symptoms of scalp psoriasis are:

  • Scalp hair: It can be light and silky or thick and crunchy. Psoriasis can be small or cover the entire scalp.
  • Psoriatic plaques elsewhere on the body: Scales can spread from the scalp to the face or neck. They can also develop in various parts of the body.
  • Hair changes: In more severe cases, hair loss, changes in hair structure, or uneven hair can develop.

People with psoriasis on the scalp may also experience:

  • Skin shedding similar to dandruff
  • Soreness or burning
  • Itching
  • A tight feeling on the scalp

The patches can be small and develop in one or two areas or cover your entire scalp. If the plaque develops under the hair, it can become very thick. Hair loss happens if you scratch or pull the affected skin on the scalp. The good news is that this hair loss is usually temporary.

Causes of scalp psoriasis:

In people with psoriasis, skin cells are replaced too quickly with new immature cells causing red, and scaly patches. It is believed that immune system problems cause psoriasis, along with genetic and environmental factors. You are more likely to develop psoriasis if others in your family have it. Psoriasis attacks are usually caused by exposure to specific triggers, such as:

  • Skin injury
  • Smoking and drinking too much alcohol
  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes
  • Some prescription drugs
  • Throat infections
  • Conditions that affect the immune system, e.g., HIV

Psoriasis is not contagious, which means you can’t pass it on to other people.
How to treat scalp psoriasis:

However, for scalp psoriasis, there are many treatment options. The type of treatment you need depends on the severity of your scalp psoriasis. It can take some time to find a treatment that works well because everyone reacts differently to a treatment. Treatments are often combined and changed because side effects or treatment stopped working after repeated use.

Here are some common treatments for scalp psoriasis:

Mild cases:

Your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Coal tar products are available without a prescription as shampoos, creams, gels, ointments, foams, and soaps. They can slow down skin growth and reduce inflammation, itching, and flaking. To apply coal tar shampoo, massage it into your scalp and leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes before rinsing it off. You can let other tar products run overnight. 
  • Salicylic acid is an exfoliating agent available in over-the-counter prescription shampoos and soaps. It can soften dandruff and make it easier to remove.
  • The medical shampoo is available in coal tar and non-carbon tar. You can use it on scalp plaques every day but follow the directions.
  • Intralesional steroid injections can reduce inflammation. The doctor uses a small needle to inject the drug into the plaque on the scalp. You can do this procedure in the doctor’s office.

If your psoriasis doesn’t respond well after repeated drug use, your doctor may replace it or combine it with another type of medication. One of the first steps is to soften and remove the scale. This makes it easier for the drug to do its job.

Topical treatments include medicated shampoos, topical steroids, and tar, and prescription medications. Talk to your dermatologist about how you usually treat your scalp, including how often you wash your scalp. This is essential in making the right treatment decision for you.

To relieve itching:

  • Use a conditioner after washing.
  • Limit usage of tools for styling hot hair.
  • Use a wet towel, cold compress, or cold water on the itchy area.
  • Try an OTC shampoo that contains tar, or shampoo with menthol or phenol creams. You can also talk to your doctor about using OTC antihistamines.

Moderate to severe treatment for psoriasis:

Your doctor may prescribe steroids, lotions, solutions, sprays, or foams to treat moderate to severe psoriasis of the scalp. Some topical treatments are applied directly to the skin, then shampooed and rinsed, including:


  • Anthralin : Apply this cream once a day for 10 to 30 minutes.
  • Calcipotriene : This is a prescription in the form of vitamin D. Use it at night and cover your scalp with a shower cap. Leave it overnight. Please don’t put it in your eyes.
  • Calcipotriene and Betamethasone Dipropionate (Taclonex Scalp, Enstilar Foam): It is a combination of several vitamin D types and a powerful steroid in suspension or ointment. You use it once a day. Please don’t put it in your eyes.
  • Tazorac: This vitamin A treatment is available in cream, foam, or gel form. If used at night, apply to clean, dry skin and let the medicine dry before bed. Applying a moisturizer after treatment can help prevent dehydration.
  • Methotrexate slows down the enzymes involved in the rapid growth of skin cells.
  • Oral retinoids help control cell growth.
  • Cyclosporine decreases immune system function and therefore helps reduce psoriasis inflammation.

Follow your doctor’s instructions for all medications. Do not use more potent steroids for more than two weeks without your doctor’s approval.

Systemic treatments and UV rays:

If you have moderate to severe psoriasis elsewhere on your body, one of the following treatment can help:

Techniques for treating scalp psoriasis include:

  • Ultraviolet light phototherapy
  • Systemic treatment in the form of tablets, capsules, or injections
  • Combination treatment, e.g., Phototherapy with coal tar or dithranol

Systemic: Oral and biological treatments are often prescribed if you have psoriasis on areas outside the scalp or if your scalp psoriasis is not responding well to other therapies.

Biologics: Biologics are injectable drugs made from natural ingredients that decrease the body’s immune response. This can reduce inflammation and redness caused by psoriasis. Examples are adalimumab (Humira) and etanercept (Enbrel). Talk with your doctor about the possible side effects of this treatment.

Ultraviolet (UV) light is another treatment option. Hair can prevent light from reaching your scalp. So, if you have thick hair, dividing it into several rows, can help. Handheld devices (UV combs) can send light directly to your scalp. 

Phototherapy is light therapy in which the affected skin is exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light. Ultraviolet B (UVB) is effective in treating psoriasis. Sunlight usually emits broadband UV rays, but treating psoriasis with artificial light is UVB with a narrow band. Tanning beds are not recommended because they use UVA rays instead of UVB. Using tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma by 59 per cent. Laser treatment has recently been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is very useful for the scalp’s psoriasis. 


Living with psoriasis can affect a person’s self-esteem and lead to depression or anxiety. Hence, people with psoriasis may want to try some positive coping strategies to improve their well-being. People experiencing symptoms of scalp psoriasis should see a doctor at Cosmosure Clinic in Hyderabad. For more information, contact Cosmosure Clinic at 040 4953 0404 and book your appointment.