Best Shampoos for Scalp Psoriasis

How to choose the right shampoo for scalp psoriasis?

Choosing the right shampoo for your scalp psoriasis can help you to manage your scalp psoriasis effectively. These shampoos are a little different from regular shampoos having specific ingredients which can help in reducing flakes, itching, and inflammation. The dermatologist prescribes most scalp psoriasis shampoos, and few are available over-the-counter products.

It is always better to choose the best shampoos for your scalp psoriasis as your dermatologist prescribes to avoid any side effects. Scalp psoriasis is an autoimmune skin disease. Autoimmune diseases have nothing to do with external causes. Indeed our body is responsible for causing them on its own.

When our immune system mistakes a healthy cell for an antigen it fights hard to remove it from the body. It accelerates several reactions, immune responses and triggers diseases in a healthy individual. These are called autoimmune diseases. In simple words, it is because the immune system fails to differentiate normal cells and foreign cells.

Women show these autoimmune 6.4 percent more than men. In women, these autoimmune diseases start right from childbearing age. However, ethnicity, gender, genetics have a crucial role in their prevalence too.

Scalp psoriasis is seen in 45 to 56 percent of people living with psoriasis. That means it is closely associated with the existence of psoriasis. It is also recurrently seen in people with psoriatic arthritis. That means patients often complain about both of them together.

Psoriatic arthritis patients are more vulnerable to scalp psoriasis. a patient already has arthritis, overweight, high cholesterol, or any other chronic ailments, the scalp psoriasis can become a chronic inflammation too. 

Symptoms and facts about  scalp psoriasis

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is often taken as dandruff and vice versa. There is a lot of difference in the physical appearances of them both. The skin cells pile up at various parts of the body. These appear as reddish, raised, scaly patches. It does not confine to the scalp alone and is seen on the ears, neck, forehead. The fine scales resemble dandruff flakes, which is why many do not recognize the scalp psoriasis early. As a typical feature of psoriasis, it shows plaques and reddish bumps. Irritation and itching also persist as in psoriasis. 

Another myth of psoriasis is that it resembles scalp dermatitis. However, dermatitis is yellow and greasy which differs from scalp psoriasis. In severe cases, there can be hair loss which is not so common. 

Differences between Seborrheic Dermatitis (Seborrhea) and Psoriasis

The scalp psoriasis gets worse in no time if overlooked. 

Picking on the scales, scratching the itchy plaque, and excess scales does not heal anything but aggravates the situation. 

Inflammation becomes more painful and intense in such cases. 

There are certain triggers like environment, genetic predispositions, and emotional stress that can be a cause of scalp psoriasis. 

Diagnosis and screenings for scalp psoriasis

Before we go on to the treatments available, it is important to get screened for psoriatic arthritis if one has been diagnosed with scalp psoriasis. Visiting a rheumatologist for the right screening is the right step to take early.

As we are already discussing how to choose the right shampoo for psoriasis, there are some things to be aware of and keep the knowledge about. 

Where and whom to go for treating scalp psoriasis? Dermatologists deal with all these skin issues, and other physicians like rheumatologists and family physicians can be involved in care.

The diagnosis of psoriasis in the hair is difficult as the hair gets in between, however, the fine scaling can help in the diagnosis.

Treatments and medications for scalp psoriasis: 

The scalp is first treated with topical medications. These are meant to be applied to the areas of scalp psoriasis. Topical corticosteroids have shown good results in shaving away the plaque. The removal of scales is important to get rid of psoriasis.

The non-traumatic way of doing that is shampooing. Shampooing two to three times a week has shown considerable results. This is not just a cosmetic concern but a part of the medication plan. 

How shampoos help in scalp psoriasis

In general, shampoos help in cleaning and caring for the hair but if you are suffering from scalp psoriasis then you will be prescribed special medicated shampoos. These medicated shampoos will help in reducing

  • flaking
  • itching
  • redness
  • inflamation
  • hardening and thickening of skin on scalp
  • slows down the growth of skin cells

Best Shampoos for Scalp Psoriasis

The shampoos containing tar, salicylic acid, clobetasol propionate are prescribed and are known to work the best. 

Calcipotriol betamethasone di propionate is said to be effective than other individual components. As the topical adherence of the treatment options is becoming difficult, new formulations are being researched upon. 

Calcipotriene/betamethasone solution is one such new formulation that has shown compliance in one dose. It is a calcipotriene combination with a corticosteroid. It is recommended when calcipotriene along with other combinations does not show considerable improvement. 

Calcipotriene is a vitamin D analog. It used to be given as a bedtime applicant to the scalp. But It works best when taken as a shampoo than an applicant. Shampoos consisting of calcipotriene can be used for up to four weeks, twice a week regularly. This is currently the most used composition to remove the plaque.

Shampoos containing 0.05% clobetasol propionate are safe for long-term management of scalp psoriasis. 

Old topical agents like tar and anthralin usage as been declined over years, still salicylic acid is used in combination with other corticosteroids. Using non-corticosteroids topical medications is helpful for long-term management. 

The shampoos contain anthralin, coal tar, topical corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, salicylic acid in various formulations. 

Salicylic acid is used as another ingredient in treating scalp psoriasis, as it acts as a scale softener. No matter how thick the scaling is, regular use of salicylic acid also containing shampoo brings a rapid change.

Although coal tar shampoos are easily available in the market for scalp psoriasis, it does not remove psoriasis. Instead, it works on the itching of scales by reducing the inflammation. 

Shampoos containing 0.5 to 3% coal tar, up to 3% of salicylic acid as active ingredients are available in the market that your hair will love. A shampoo with mild cortisone, or vitamin D analog, coal tar, and salicylic acid will be ideal to look for. 

More than light amounts of coal tar-containing shampoos will need a prescription.

If not using a dermatologist-prescribed medicated shampoo will be even more effective.

Shampooing hard and scratching away the scales is not the right way in dealing with scalp psoriasis. Apply them directly to the scalp by parting the hair into sections. You can follow the shampooing with a moisturizing conditioner. 

Scalp psoriasis Shampoos Usage precautions 

Some shampoos may make your scalp skin more sensitive to the sun. Protect yourself from wearing a hat or using an umbrella when you go out to avoid direct contact of sunlight to the scalp.

Some shampoos may create more dryness of the scalp and can increase flaking.

If you found any symptoms of irritation, nausea, or any other problem visit your dermatologist for further advice.

If you are trying new shampoo then it’s best to discuss with your doctor and do a patch test to know any adverse effects.


Scalp psoriasis needs a different morning and evening routine. Using medicated shampoo does not finish the work. Keeping patience throughout the treatments and getting on with the treatment procedures, should show great results.

Buy the Best Shampoos for Scalp Psoriasis


  6. Renton C. “Diagnosis and treatment of adults with scalp psoriasis.” Nurs Stand. 2014 Feb 26-Mar 4;28(26):35-9
5/5 (1 Review)