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.

View Psoriasis Slideshow Pictures

Quick GuidePsoriasis Pictures Slideshow: See Moderate to Severe Forms of this Common Skin Condition

Psoriasis Pictures Slideshow: See Moderate to Severe Forms of this Common Skin Condition

What are office treatments for scalp psoriasis?

Rarely, it may be of benefit to inject triamcinolone acetonide directly into psoriatic plaques. Aside from the pain involved, the benefit only lasts about six weeks at best. Ultraviolet light in wavelengths near 313 nm (narrow band UVB) is effective in psoriasis. The hair, however, can pose a barrier to effective administration unless it is removed or sparse. The excimer laser produces out laser light in these UV wavelengths also and can be of benefit if the amount of scalp involvement is limited.

What are systemic treatments for psoriasis?

If the scalp is involved as part of severe psoriasis deemed too extensive to be treated practically with topical medications, then medications delivered orally or by injection may be necessary. All these medications comprise more risk when compared to topical medication. They include oral drugs like methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall), cyclosporine (Sandimmune), acitretin (Soriatane), apremilast (Otezla), and some of the so-called biological drugs that are administered by infusion into a vein (infliximab [Remicade]) or by injection into the deeper layers of the skin like etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira), ustekinumab (Stelara), and secukinumab (Cosentyx). Regular laboratory work is often necessary to monitor for the toxicities associated with some of these systemic therapies.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016
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  • Scalp Psoriasis - Office Treatments

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  • Scalp Psoriasis - Medications

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