What Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis Are Available?
by Michael Marenick on May 12, 2017
Learn about OTC, Prescription and Systemic Treatment Options for Scalp Psoriasis
There are many treatments for scalp psoriasis that are effective and can control its symptoms. Unfortunately sometimes it can remain on the scalp for a long period of time. But don’t worry, there are also times when it can actually clear on its own.
The most important thing is that you select a scalp psoriasis treatment that is right for you. You should never choose a remedy that is actually worse than the psoriasis itself. You need to consider your style of life. How much time and money do you have to devote to a daily regimen? Considering your personal lifestyle should help you to decide among the many options available.
Over-The-Counter Treatment Products
Lets begin by talking about Over-the-counter drug products. These are topical creams, lotions, scalp psoriasis shampoos and oils that you can find in your local drug store. There are many of them and choosing the right one may be a little confusing. However these can be highly effective and also may be the most reasonably priced way to go for treating your psoriasis.
When considering which product to choose it is important to note the two most commonly used FDA recognized ingredients that can be found in these products – Salicylic Acid and Coal Tar.
Salicylic acid is a natural exfoliating ingredient. It is relatively gentle but in high concentrations it may be a little irritating to the scalp. You may already be familiar with salicylic acid. It is often called Sal Acid and has been widely used at lower concentrations in anti-wrinkle products for years. If you look at the back of an aspirin bottle you will also notice that aspirin is made of cetyl salicylic acid. So as you can see, even though the word acid is used in this ingredients name, it can be an effective yet a gentle and versatile ingredient for many different problems.
Coal tar has been widely used in scalp psoriasis treatments for years and you will find it in many over-the-counter products. Coal tar also comes in different strengths and some strengths may require a doctors prescription. There are actually two types of tar that are used to treat psoriasis, coal tar and wood tar. Coal tar is the ingredient that is recognized by the FDA.
While tar is an effective medication, it can stain bedding and even change the color of grey or white hair. In addition it has a very strong odor that some people find quite offensive. If you choose to use a tar based shampoo you may also want to consider using a non-medicated conditioner after shampooing. This can help to reduce the smell of the tar.
There are also several other (not as popular) ingredients that you may find in these treatments for scalp psoriasis such as Zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole and Blue Lagoon algae.
So how do you choose the right over-the-counter product for you? First you need to determine the severity of your condition. The more severe the case the stronger the active ingredient may have to be to help with your condition. Remember to read the packaging. The FDA recommends levels of Sal Acid and Tar from 1-3% for Salicylic Acid and from .5-5% for Tar. It is always better to start lower and increase concentration if the medication is not working effectively for you. Never go right for the highest concentration because this could irritate your scalp and cause the psoriasis to become worse.
Tar and Sal Acid are both designed to help remove the scales from your scalp. In addition to these two ingredients you need to find a psoriasis shampoo that includes excellent moisturizing and healing ingredients that will help to reduce redness and itching. This may be most important decision you need to make when choosing a psoriasis shampoo. After all, any company can follow the FDA guidelines and put a certain percentage into any type of cream. But creams, shampoos, oils and lotions that go beyond the basic essentials and include vitamins, minerals, proteins and even essential oils and herbal extracts can actually be very effective in scalp psoriasis treatments.
Prescription Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis
Now lets discuss some of the prescription products that are available. Since I am not a doctor I am not going to go into too much detail on these. I feel it is important to mention these, but I also believe they should only be used if extremely necessary.
One of the oldest scalp psoriasis treatments available is Anthralin. It is usually applied to the scalp and left in for 30 minutes before shampooing out. Anthralin can stain the skin and cause skin irritation in some people.
A prescription drug sold under the brand name Dovonex is actually a prescription topical vitamin D derivative that comes in a solution form. It is applied to the scalp at night, covered with a shower cap and rinsed out in the morning. It is recommended that this treatment be covered with a shower cap to avoid contact with other skin on the body since it has a tendency to irritate unaffected skin particularily on the face.
There are also times when a doctor may choose to inject certain scalp lesions with a steroid medication. This is only done when the psoriasis is in a few small patches on the scalp. Steroid injections are given sparingly because the medication can be absorbed and may be harmful to your body.
Another prescription is called Tazarotene. This is a topical Vitamin A derivative that comes in a cream or gel form. Its best applied at night and left in as you sleep. This drug may severely dry the skin and it is recommended that you apply moisturizers 30 minutes prior to using the Tazaortene.
In the most severe cases of psoriasis a doctor may choose to use a systemic treatment for your psoriasis. This is usually a last resort and usually involves an oral medication in addition to topical injections. Systemic Psoriasis medications can have very serious side effects and these must be considered in relationship to the benefits of the treatment. In addition to skin irritation, mild hair loss can also occur with these types of treatments.
Conclusion About Treatments For Scalp Psoraisis
Before considering any treatment for scalp psoriasis always consider the potential side affects. You certainly don’t want to do more harm then good. Start with a good quality over-the-counter psoriasis shampoo. Add a cream and scalp oil if necessary. If you simply cannot find something that works then you may need to consult with your doctor about trying a prescription product.