Psoriasis is a skin condition that affects 3 percent of the population. It's estimated that up to 80 percent of people with psoriasis will have a flare-up in their hair.
Psoriasis in hair can be incredibly irritating, not to mention painful and itchy. Whilst treating symptoms on the skin using oils or lotions can help to soothe the itch, getting to the flakes of psoriasis in the hair can be more complicated.
Traditional Treatments for Psoriasis in Hair
Prescriptive treatments for psoriasis in the hair often include medicated shampoos such as Coal Tar, Salicylic acid or Clobetasol.
Coal tar is one of the oldest topical treatments in dermatology. It's commonly used in shampoos for psoriasis in the hair, but worryingly it contains several carcinogenic compounds. Occupational studies have shown an increased risk of cancer after exposure to coal tar and as a result, many dermatologists have abandoned this treatment for safety reasons.
Salicylic acid is a derivative of aspirin. As a treatment it exfoliates, unclogs pores and offers antibacterial properties. It works by breaking down dead skin cells and to help stop new ones from forming.
Clobetasol Propionate is a topical steroid which can offer temporary relief from psoriasis in the hair. The problem with steroid shampoos is that they only focus on treating the symptoms of scalp psoriasis, so discontinuing their use can often result in a rebound flare - sometimes worse than the problem you were trying to treat in the first place. If you're using a steroid shampoo at the moment, it's important to wean off usage slowly to minimise chances of Topical Steroid Withdrawal.
So, if we're planning to avoid using carcinogenic coal tar or strong topical steroids shampoos, what can we use to treat psoriasis in the hair?
Exfoliate the Scalp
Psoriasis in the hair often causes problems with flaking of the scalp. To nourish the underlying hair follicles it's really important to gently slough away those dead skin flakes first. Pure Dead Sea salts not only help to remove the dead skin, they also contain natural minerals including magnesium, potassium, sodium, and calcium which can boost scalp hydration.
Soaking in a warm bath with a large handful of Dead Sea salts can be a fantastic way to enable those minerals to absorb into the scalp. Using your hands to massage the salts further into the hair can help to eliminate psoriasis flakes.
Switch to a Natural Shampoo
Commercial shampoos often contain toxic ingredients which are less than ideal, especially if you are struggling with psoriasis in your hair.
SLS or sodium laurel sulphate to give it its full name, is the stuff that enables our washing products to turn to a rich frothy lather. Commonly used in bath foams, body washes, shampoos and even cleaning products, it's cheap and easy to produce which makes it attractive for for cosmetics manufacturers.
Since SLS is such a harsh chemical compound, it can make your hair strands swell, causing the protective outer cuticle to open. Once this happens, natural oils seep out creating brittle strands. SLS also irritates the hairline and scalp, which can be particularly problematic for hair psoriasis.
Using a natural product such as my Hanna Sillitoe Shampoo is a kinder, more gentle alternative which can ease irritation and the flakes associated with psoriasis in the hair.
Use an Intensive Scalp Oil
If you're suffering with psoriasis in your hair, the scalp can dry out in much the same way as any other area of our skin. Nourishing the forehead, nape of the neck and backs of the ears with an intensive scalp oil can help to soothe irritated, itchy skin.
I recommend applying an intensive oil mask at least three times a week, massaging it in to the hairline and leaving it in overnight, before washing it out the following morning with a gentle shampoo.
Switch to a Psoriasis Friendly Diet
Whilst these topical treatments can really help to soothe the symptoms of psoriasis in the hair, working on a gut friendly dietary protocol is, I believe, essential to soothing underlying chronic inflammation.
It's important to ensure your body is correctly nourished and hydrated, and doing so through nutrition can help to support cell health and healing.