7 Home Remedies for Scalp Psoriasis

There’s a particularly pesky trouble spot when it comes to psoriasis, and that’s the scalp. When you have scalp psoriasis, of course you want to get the right treatment from your doctor. But there’s also some self-care you can do at home to deal with the irritation and flaking.

What people on the internet are doing is different from what works, so we talked to dermatologists to find out what’s worth trying at home to help scalp psoriasis. Get ahead of the game with these seven home remedies you can do right now.

Vinegar Rinse

Head to your kitchen and grab that bottle of apple cider vinegar. Dilute it with an equal amount of water to avoid irritation. According to Manhattan Beach, CA-based dermatologist Ashley Magovern, M.D., “The water helps prevent stinging on any broken skin or open sores.”

Pour enough of the mixture over your head to saturate your scalp (be sure to avoid getting it into your eyes!), let it dry, and then rinse. You can also put it into a spray bottle and spray it onto your scalp. Experts recommend doing this up to three times per week to relieve the itchiness associated with scalp flare-ups.

“Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid, which is what helps to keep the pH level balanced in the scalp, thereby fighting the itchiness,” explains NYC-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, M.D., author of Skin Rules: Trade Secrets from a Top New York Dermatologist.

Tea Tree Oil

This lovely-smelling plant-based oil can be applied topically to the scalp prior to washing hair for a soothing treatment that doctors say also has the added benefit of killing bad bacteria.

“Tea tree oil is a great essential oil that has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties,” says Dr. Jaliman. Just pour it directly onto the scalp or onto hands and then apply with fingertips and let it sit for 10 minutes. Follow by thoroughly washing and drying the hair. “It really helps to soothe redness and inflammation,” says Dr. Jaliman. But know that tea tree oil can be irritating to some people, so Dr. Magovern warns to immediately stop use if any adverse reaction occurs.

Soak up the Sun

Head outside on a sunny day and let the sunshine do its work. Yep, five to 10 minutes a day of the sun’s UV rays can work wonders for an itchy flare-up.

“Be sure to limit exposure to under 10 minutes a day as too much sun exposure can actually lead to more inflammation and make the problem worse,” advises Dr. Magovern, who is also the co-founder of the safe sun-care line Project Sunscreen. And don’t forget to protect yourself with sunscreen! “After applying your SPF of 30 or higher, taking in some of those UV rays will definitely provide benefits,” advises Dr. Jaliman. “UVB rays, specifically, enter the layers of the skin to slow down the growth of skin cells that are causing the psoriasis outbreaks,” she explains.

Oat Heal

Head back to the kitchen, but this time grab some oatmeal. Choose the colloidal kind or grind regular oats up with a food processor and then mix them with water to make a paste that you can apply to the scalp and let sit. After about 10 minutes, rinse it off and wash your hair. Studies say that oatmeal has anti-inflammatory effects and can help loosen up scaly patches. “Colloidal oatmeal has been known to reduce inflammation and can be very soothing,” explains Dr. Jaliman.

Put a Cap on It

Apply any Vaseline, coconut oil or thick skin cream to the scalp, put on a shower cap and let it soak in overnight. Wash and dry your hair in the morning (try a shampoo that has ingredients like salicylic acid, coal tar or witch hazel, designed to combat psoriasis). “If Vaseline is too greasy for you or makes your hair greasy, try the coconut oil instead, which is extremely moisturizing, anti-bacterial and great for overall scalp health,” says Dr. Jaliman.

Not just for Sunburn

You probably have some aloe vera gel lying around the house and only break it out after you get a sunburn. But studies have shown that aloe can also help heal psoriasis outbreaks. “Besides being cooling and soothing, aloe is anti-inflammatory and fights redness and irritation,” explains Dr. Jaliman. Apply the gel directly to the scalp after washing and drying hair, to benefit from its soothing qualities.

Baking Soda

Another common pantry staple can work great as a home remedy for an itchy scalp. “Baking soda is a natural exfoliator that also has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties,” says Dr. Jaliman. “It’ll help gently slough off those dry patches of skin.” Pour a tablespoon of the powder into warm water, mix it well, and then pour it on your scalp or dab it on with cotton pads.