Scalp Psoriasis (Psoriasis of the Scalp)

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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Quick GuidePsoriasis: Treatment, Types, and Pictures

Psoriasis: Treatment, Types, and Pictures

How do health-care professionals diagnose scalp psoriasis?

The fact that the scalp is a hair-bearing area in most people produces challenges in diagnosis as well as treatment. If scaling plaques are present on portions of the body in a distribution characteristic of psoriasis, then the diagnosis of the scalp disease is much easier to make.

What are scalp psoriasis home remedies and topical treatments? Are there shampoos for scalp psoriasis?

The most important consideration in treating scalp psoriasis is getting an effective medication into the skin. Both the hair and any scale covering the disease act as an impediment to treatment. Removal of the scale in a nontraumatic fashion is very important. This can be accomplished by shampooing frequently. Using tar, selenium, or salicylic acid-containing shampoos can be helpful. This may have to be done at least twice a day initially if the scale is sufficiently thick. Gently rubbing off the scale with the fingertips and not the nails is important.

It should be appreciated that scaling is not due to dryness but to the excessive production of the horny layer of the skin. Occasionally, it may be necessary to cover the scalp overnight with mineral oil. To avoid an unpleasant mess, it is necessary to cover the head with a shower cap or swim cap. With moderate or severe scalp disease, the addition of a topical steroid is often required. The potency of the steroid would depend on the severity of the condition. The type of vehicle (lotion, solution, or foam) depends on physician and patient preference. It is important to remember that the medication must get past the hair in order to reach the scalp skin. Sometimes other medications may be of benefit, such as topical calcipotriene (Dovonex, Sorilux) in a lotion or foam form. Some medications are available as combinations of topical steroid and calcipotriene.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016

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