If your scalp or hairline is itchy or covered with scaly patches of psoriasis, it can be a challenge to look good. A dermatologist and a veteran hair stylist offer their expert tips.
What to look for
- Use shampoos without dyes, synthetic fragrances or sulfates because they can “burn or sting your scalp,” says Miami dermatologist Annie Gonzalez. Ditto for products containing alcohol
- Heat is not your friend if you have psoriasis. Therefore:
- Wash and rinse your hair with warm, not hot water.
- Keep hot rollers and flat or curling irons away from your scalp. Better yet, throw them away completely.
- Skip bloating, at least during a flare-up of psoriasis.
Try a new hairstyle if your hair is usually worn in a ponytail, a fabric or other tight styles. “You are less likely to irritate your scalp and hair follicles,” says Gonzalez.
What you can try
Lean into the natural texture of your hair and work with it. Also look for a shampoo that contains coal tar, Gonzalez suggests. “Coal tar is an ingredient that increases remission on the scalp and clears up psoriasis,” she says. Bonus: it will continue to work even after the shampoo has been rinsed off.
Be careful with shampoos that can be dried. Try alternating it with mild medicines that do not cure. Look for natural products with essential oils, natural extracts and vegetable ingredients.
Apply the medicine shampoo directly on your scalp as well as your hair. Massage gently with your fingertips, not your nails.
How to have your best hair
People with psoriasis hear a lot of “no” when it comes to the style of their hair. It is important to erase any shame about your condition with your stylist. “You should always be open and honest and not be afraid to speak freely,” says famous New York hairstylist Vickie Vidov. “We’ve seen it all and are always happy to be a source of comfort to our customers.”
Fortunately, you can try some solutions, as long as you are not in the middle of a flare-up. For example:
- Consider switching to a cut that can be easily air-dried.
- If you like braids, try something looser, like French braids or braids that work with the face frame.
- Patch test any hair color 2-3 days before you get a full color, Vidov says to see if it ignites your psoriasis. Creams around the hairline and the entire scalp can help protect it from the dye.
- Try relaxed styles with curls or waves starting in the middle of your strands, instead of at the crown of your head.