5 Hair-Care Products Experts Recommend to Ease Scalp Psoriasis

One truly irritating type of psoriasis can mess with your head. Literally. It’s marked by often-uncontrollable itching and pesky scales that form on the scalp—a common spot for flare-ups. In fact, it’s estimated that about 60 percent of people with psoriasis have scalp psoriasis.

Of course, you’ll want to talk to your dermatologist to create a personalized course of treatment, but OTC products can also help complement your medical care. These eight shampoos and hair treatments combat a dry, itchy scalp and may help reduce scalp psoriasis symptoms.

Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo

Board-certified dermatologist Bobbak Mansouri, M.D., who practices in Texas, recommends Neutrogena T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo Scalp Build-Up Control ($7.49 at Neutrogena.com) because of its active ingredient: salicylic acid. “Salicylic acid combats psoriasis on the scalp because it’s useful in breaking down the thick and gritty scales that form,” says Mansouri. “The most important thing to remember when using a shampoo with an active ingredient is to leave the shampoo in for at least three to five minutes to let that active ingredient soak into your scalp.”

Silk18 Shampoo by Maple Holistics

If your scalp is supersensitive, you may want to try a sulfate-free shampoo, suggests M. David Meyer M.D., a board-certified dermatologist practicing in Texas. “Shampoos with sulfate are known to cause irritation and itching of the scalp,” says Meyer. Silk18 Shampoo ($19.95 at Amazon.com) works to calm an irritated scalp and smooth hair with a hydrating formula of amino acids. It’s also free of sulfate, silicone, and parabens (common irritants for psoriasis sufferers).

Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment

The dermatologists we spoke to agree that the combination of a shampoo with a scalp treatment can fight flare-ups on the scalp. Minnesota-based stylist and trichologist Tabitha Fredrichs says she recommends Living Proof Restore Dry Scalp Treatment ($32 at LivingProof.com) to her clients with scalp psoriasis because it’s “super lightweight” and hydrating. It contains vitamin B for relief from irritation, and hyaluronic acid to soothe and hydrate.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Many people with psoriasis swear by apple cider vinegar, commonly found in kitchens, to soothe a scaly scalp. In fact, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommends apple cider vinegar as a home remedy when applied directly to the scalp, using equal parts water and vinegar.

Don’t want to DIY your hair care? Try a product like DPHUE Apple Cider Vinegar Hair Rinse ($35 at Sephora.com) or Hairitage An Apple a Day Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse ($7.94 at Walmart.com), both of which have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties, thanks to their key ingredient: apple cider vinegar. Mansouri points to anti-fungal ingredients, specifically, for fighting the flakes. “Dandruff is basically an overgrowth of fungus. So, anything that has an anti-fungal component is helpful in controlling this.”

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

The active ingredient in Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo ($7.99 at Target) is coal tar, which makes it different from the aforementioned T/Sal shampoo by the same brand. “Coal tar has long been a great treatment for psoriasis outbreaks as it reduces inflammation, itching, and flaking,” explains Mansouri. The potential downside to this product? “Coal tar has a very distinct smell, which isn’t everyone’s favorite.”