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The Complete Guide to Managing Scalp Psoriasis in 2024 – 12 Treatment Options Analyzed

If you’re one of the millions struggling with red, inflamed, scaly skin on your scalp, you know just how painful, embarrassing, and frustrating this condition can be. The good news is that with the right treatment plan, you can find relief and restore confidence in your hair again this year.

As your personal psoriasis guide, I’ve dug deep into all the latest research on scalp psoriasis to cut through the misinformation and bring you proven solutions. In this comprehensive article, we’ll uncover the root causes, and analyze the most effective conventional and natural treatments, and I’ll share lifestyle tips and coping strategies I’ve learned from working with hundreds of people just like you.

Let’s get started decoding this complex condition once and for all!

What Exactly Is Scalp Psoriasis?

First things first – what is scalp psoriasis? Simply put, scalp psoriasis is a common autoimmune condition that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, leading to red, flaky patches that can crack, bleed, and itch intensely. It affects 2-3% of people globally, usually first appearing between age 15 and 30.

Don’t confuse scalp psoriasis with dandruff – it can be thick and heavy with a distinctive silvery sheen. The flaking and scaling occur when excessive skin cell buildup emerges on the surface. Unlike eczema, psoriasis skin lesions first appear as tiny little teardrop-shaped spots.

What Causes Scalp Psoriasis?

The scientific consensus is that psoriasis arises when faulty signals in the immune system cause skin cell production to accelerate up to 10 times faster than normal. But what triggers the immune dysfunction in the first place?

Scientists are still searching for definitive answers, but these factors likely play a role:

  • Genetics – up to 30% of people inherit one or more genes that make them prone to psoriasis
  • Environmental exposures
  • Physical trauma
  • Certain medications
  • Throat infections triggering an autoimmune reaction

Now that you understand the factors in play, let’s uncover the most effective medical treatments, natural remedies, and lifestyle changes proven to ease scalp psoriasis symptoms.

Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis

Wondering if your scalp issues stem from psoriasis or a different condition? Getting an accurate diagnosis is crucial before attempting treatment, so let’s analyze the most common signs of scalp psoriasis:

  • Red Patches – Pink, red, or bright salmon-colored lesions are classic. They often itch or sting before scale builds up on top. The scales extend beyond the hairline onto the forehead and neck regions.
  • Dandruff Lookalike – Dense silvery-white scale form on patches that slough off as bad dandruff. But with psoriasis, removing the scale reveals inflamed, raw skin. Regular anti-dandruff shampoos aren’t cutting it anymore.
  • Bleeding – Excess scratching can cause temporary bleeding when psoriasis lesions become cracked or split open.
  • Flaking – You may notice small skin flakes falling onto your shoulders that are hard to brush off.
  • Hair Loss – The hair loss isn’t caused by psoriasis itself but rather by the scratching and constant picking of the scaly spots that weaken the follicles. The hair typically grows back once flare-ups are controlled.
  • Itching – A burning and itching sensation can range from annoying to unbearably torturous during a flare-up. Scratching tends to make scalp psoriasis worse.
  • Remission periods – There are brief periods when your scalp irritations may go away completely only to come back worse than before.

Word of Advice: The symptoms listed above are not unique to psoriasis and can be related to more complex and harmful ailments. Do not try to self-diagnose sensitive skin conditions like psoriasis. Instead, consult a dermatologist.

Available Medical Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis Relief

Let’s make one thing clear, if you have psoriasis you’re in hard luck- to this date, psoriasis has no permanent cure. The best you can do is keep the condition at bay by minimizing its symptoms like painful scalp lesions, scaling, flakes, and hair loss.

Before exploring natural options, it makes sense to understand which medical treatments work best.

Your first line of defense for localized scalp psoriasis is using scalp products specially designed for treating the symptoms of scalp psoriasis.

Over-the-counter (OTC) Topical Corticosteroids

These topical treatments come in the form of cleansing shampoos that contain anti-fungal ingredients like Ketoconazole or clotrimazole which help reduce flaking and inflammation, but long-term use thins skin. Apart from that they also contain high concentrations of the following FDA approved medications:

  • Clobetasol (Temovate, Cormax), potent steroid cream or foam
  • Fluocinonide (Vanos, Lidex), corticosteroid to reduce inflammation
  • Betamethasone Dipropionate (Diprolene Aa F), a strong topical corticosteroid
  • Tazarotene (Tazorac), a vitamin A cream helps undo plaque damage
  • Salicylic Acid (Ionil T, Sebex), softens and lifts scales
  • Coal Tar (Denorex, Zetar), slows skin cell turnover and reduces scaling
  • Anthralin (Drithocreme, Micanol), anti-psoriatic derived from tree bark
  • Methotrexate (Trexallan ), an oral systemic drug to reduce inflammation
  • Apremilast (Otezla), an oral pill targeting inflammation

Vitamin D Analogues 

Calcipotriol is a synthetic vitamin D that slows skin cell overproduction but may sting, especially on cuts. This is a prescription drug and should not be administered without consulting a dermatologist.

Phototherapy Treatments

If no over-the-counter or natural scalp psoriasis treatment has provided sufficient relief from your painful symptoms, phototherapy may be an excellent option before considering systemic medications.

Phototherapy exposes skin to ultraviolet light under medical supervision either through lasers or special full-body light boManye many studies demonstrate either UVB or laser treatment significantly improves scalp psoriasis for most patients with remission lasting 4-6 months between sessions.


If other treatments fail, prescription injections like Humira, Skyrizi, or Tremfya can block internal inflammation and clear plaques. These biologics are intrusive and should only be administered if prescribed by a dermatologist as a last resort.

Natural Scalp Psoriasis Treatments – What’s Backed By Science?

If you’re looking for natural ways to find relief when medications haven’t worked or caused unpleasant side effects, pay close attention. Through extensive research and patient experience, I’ve discovered these four natural scalp psoriasis remedies have genuine healing potential:

While the natural options lack extensive clinical data, the promising pilot studies and patient testimonies convince me they’re worth trying before considering more aggressive treatments.

Lifestyle Changes That Can Calm Scalp Psoriasis Naturally

Here comes the good news – beyond medical and natural topical treatments, positive changes to your lifestyle habits can also tame an overactive immune system and soothe scalp psoriasis symptoms.

Dietary Changes

  • Blood-Sugar Balancing Diet – Eating smaller, frequent meals with a focus on fiber-rich plant foods stabilizes blood sugar lows and spikes tied to flares.
  • Fish Oil Supplements – Multiple studies found psoriasis significantly improved by taking omega-3 fish oil capsules or increasing oily fish intake. The powerful anti-inflammatories EPA and DHA calm immune dysfunction.

Hair Routine Changes

  • Hair Wash Routine – Wash hair just 1-2 times per week with a gentle, fragrance-free shampoo like Sebamed. Incorporate anti-fungal cleansing routines as recommended by your dermatologist.
  • Avoid Heat Styling or Heat-Based Drying – Allow the scalp to air dry instead of blasting with a hairdryer. Pat dry gently with a soft cotton towel.
  • Avoid Scalp-Sensitive Hair Treatments – Stay away from treatments like bleaching, hair dyes, perming, etc that can affect the pH and microbiome of your sensitive scalp, which in turn can worsen your psoriasis symptoms.
  • Stress Management – Studies confirm psoriasis worsens with stress. Activities like meditation, yoga, journaling, and nature immersion elicit a relaxation response shown to reduce flare-ups.

By combining topical scalp treatments with daily stress relief practices and an anti-inflammatory, gut-healing diet centered on whole foods, you can break the cycle of chronic scalp psoriasis once and for all.

When Should You Seek Professional Scalp Psoriasis Treatment?

Wondering whether it’s time to make an appointment with a dermatologist? Having plaque psoriasis on your scalp for over 6 months without improvement after trying over-the-counter treatments indicates it’s time to seek professional support.

A dermatologist has access to prescription medications and light therapies not readily available to the public. New laser treatments are also showing promise for mild to severe scalp psoriasis cases unresponsive to other options.

New Scalp Psoriasis Treatment Developments in 2024

If you’ve tried every shampoo, ointment, home remedy, diet protocol, and doctor suggestion without lasting relief from scalp psoriasis symptoms, don’t lose hope. The future seems to be bright, and new highly targeted medications are entering the market now showing incredible promise in clearing plaques long-term.

Keep an eye out for moderate to severe scalp psoriasis in 2024 for the latest FDA-approved JAK inhibitor pills called Olumiant and Cibinqo. Clinical trials displayed 60-80% clearing of scalp lesions in as little as 12 weeks with minimal side effects compared to risky immune-suppressing biologics.

Staying Consistent Is the Key to Tame Scalp Psoriasis

Healing may take patience and some trial and error, but if you stay consistent in applying the proven lifestyle, natural, and medical treatments outlined here, I’m confident you can achieve drastically improved scalp health and happiness.

Dr Hamdan Hamed Abdullah

Dr Hamdan Hamed Abdullah

Dr. Hamdan Abdullah Hamed MBChB, co-founder of, is a UAE-based board-certified dermatologist. Committed to natural hair care, he's been quoted in MSN, Yahoo, The Mirror UK, Daily Mail UK, Chronicle Live, Gulf News, among others. He specializes in natural hair care, supporting individuals with a range of hair textures to achieve their hair goals