Is it the shampoo or the way you are using it?
If you suffer with scalp psoriasis it is very likely that you have tried many different shampoos to try and treat your condition. You are probably sick and tired of spending money on shampoos that provide little if any results.
Well you are not alone. Just reading various blogs on the internet you can quickly find the complaints from people who say they have tried many different shampoos, spending hundreds of dollars, and none of them work. So why is this such a common problem? How is it possible for there to be so many shampoos and have the companies stay in business if the shampoos do not work?
Are You Sure You Have Scalp Psoriasis?
Have you been diagnosed with scalp psoriasis? Or perhaps you have seborrheic dermatitis? You also could simply just have a dry itchy scalp with a dandruff problem. If you have not seen a doctor about your scalp problem here’s how to identify each of these conditions.
- Dry Scalp and Dandruff – In general dandruff is just flaky skin on the scalp. But what causes the flaking can be several different things. A true dandruff problem will produce white flakes of skin that have a thick texture. However, you could also have a flaking problem if you are using certain hair care products that can cause a build up on your scalp. Scaling from these types of products often appear more translucent in color rather than white. In addition, if you are using a product that contains minoxidil for thinning hair problems this could also result in flaking. The flakes that occur from minoxidil appear off color (grey or tan) and not white or translucent.
- Seborrheic Dermatitis – This topical skin condition appears as a chronic intermittent rash affecting areas rich in sebaceous glands. It is often identified by it’s greasy look that is accompanied by yellow scaling. It is often limited to the scalp, however it can appear in other area’s of the body that is typically hairy and where skin touches together. Seborrheic Dermatitis is believed to be caused by a fungus called Malassezia.
- Scalp Psoriasis – This is an auto-immune disease that causes the body to attack healthy skin cells. Basically it thinks the area is hurt and tries to heal it by producing new healthy skin cells. But because there really is no injury the body rapidly over produces skin cells causing a thick silvery plaque build up. Unlike seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis is typically dry and not oily and the patches are white or grey in color. Scalp psoriasis can occur around the edges of your hairline, behind the ears or throughout your entire head.
Are You Buying the Right Shampoo?
The medicated shampoos that you will find in most pharmacies are specifically formulated to treat various scalp conditions. You can buy shampoos formulated simply for dandruff or an itchy scalp. You can also find shampoos for seborrheic dermatitis or psoriasis. And then there are shampoos that treat multi-symptom problems for psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff. If you have scalp psoriasis you need to buy a medicated shampoo that is specifically formulated for scalp psoriasis. A simple dandruff shampoo will never be enough to treat this disease.
Psoriasis shampoos are considered over-the-counter drug medications and must be manufactured using specific active ingredients that are recognized by the FDA for the treatment of psoriasis. These active ingredients are:
- Salicylic Acid – This is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) known for its ability to penetrate into the skin and help loosen the bonds that hold skin cells together. This allows the body to more quickly exfoliate the dead skin cells that have built up from the psoriasis.
- Coal Tar – This active ingredient is a by product of coal. It is black in color and can have a very strong odor. Coal tar is also known for its ability to help loosen dead skin cells so they can be removed more quickly. Many people avoid using coal tar shampoos because the strong odor often has to be masked with an even stronger fragrance.
- There are also several other (not as popular) ingredients such as Zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole and Blue Lagoon algae.
These shampoos will also come in different strengths and this can make a huge difference in whether the product works for you or not. The FDA only provides a specific range percentage that must be used in a formulation for it to be listed as medicated. For example you might find salicylic acid shampoos with 1% all the way up to 3% concentration. The difference in percentage can also make a difference in the price of the product. So if you are buying a cheaper shampoo you may also be getting a weaker shampoo.
So which active ingredient is the right one for you? The only way to find out is by trial and error. Psoriasis is different in everyone and what works for one person may not work for another. Most people start with a salicylic acid shampoo and if this does not work then move on to coal tar or the others.
The Main Reason a Psoriasis Shampoo Doesn’t Work
Believe it or not, human error is the main reason a psoriasis shampoo may not work. Most people buy one of these medicated shampoos and think they can use it like a regular daily shampoo. They shampoo it in and wash it out in about 30 seconds. But if you read the directions on these shampoos they clearly state that the shampoo needs to be left on the scalp for several minutes at a time. If you wash them out too quickly you are simply not giving the medication enough time to work and you are washing your money down the drain.
Also, there are many people that don’t wash their hair every day and think using a medicated shampoo will work if they only use it once a week. Again, if you follow the directions on the product you will likely have to use the product daily at least until you get your condition under control.
If you are concerned that a medicated shampoo might leave your hair unmanageable then you need to read the labels carefully and find a psoriasis shampoo that also contains a conditioner. These shampoos may be a little more expensive but they will certainly be worth the money.
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If you have any questions or need additional information please feel free to call us at 973-396-8480