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Scalp Psoriasis: Which Shampoo Should You Choose?

Scalp Psoriasis: Which Shampoo Should You Choose?

50% of individuals affected by psoriasis suffer from lesions on the scalp. This condition makes the process of hair washing particularly delicate. Indeed, overly aggressive washing can exacerbate psoriasis. In this article, we explain which shampoo to choose in the case of psoriasis in order to gently cleanse your hair.

Psoriasis: a condition affecting the scalp.

Affecting 2% of the global population, psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the skin and joints. It is considered an autoimmune disease, as it results from an immune system malfunction. Indeed, for unknown reasons, immune cells secrete inflammatory molecules into the skin. These molecules stimulate the proliferation of keratinocytes which accumulate on the skin's surface: this is hyperkeratosis. This disease occurs in individuals with a genetic predisposition and under the influence of certain contributing factors.

On the skin, psoriasis is characterised by the emergence of well-defined red, itchy patches accompanied by a thickening of the skin. These patches are covered with white scales. They appear in areas of friction (knees, elbows...) but other areas are also affected, particularly the scalp.

Scalp psoriasis can appear in a localized manner or in conjunction with other lesions (on the body, face or even the nails). Very often, the scalp is the first site of onset of psoriasis and it is estimated that 80% of people suffering from psoriasis will develop scalp psoriasis.

Generally, psoriasis plaques on the scalp are distributed in a asymmetrical manner. These are non-alopecic erythematous plaques with rounded edges covered in dry scales. They are observed on the border of the forehead, behind the neck and behind the ears like a sort of band around the head. According to studies, up to 70% of patients also complain of itching.

Multifactorial disease, psoriasis is a condition that frequently affects the scalp. The lesions being highly visible, they can be a source of stigmatisationand of rejection. Moreover, the itching can significantly impair the quality of life of those affected by disrupting social interactions or sleep. Scratching exacerbates psoriasis lesions. So, a question arises: what can be done to address this issue?

What should be done in response to psoriasis lesions on the scalp?

If red lesions appear on your scalp, the first thing to do is consult a dermatologist. Indeed, there are numerous scalp diseases. Therefore, consulting a dermatologist is necessary, as they will provide you with an accurate diagnosis.

If a dermatologist confirms that you are suffering from scalp psoriasis, they will prescribe a treatment suitable for your case. There are local treatments available (dermocorticoids, dermocorticoids combined with a keratolytic agent, vitamin D analogues...) as well as systemic treatments for very severe cases.

Please note : for scalp psoriasis, local medicinal treatments are in the form of lotions, gel or shampoo, thus suitable for hairy areas.

Alongside the medicinal treatment prescribed by the dermatologist, it is essential to meticulously select your shampoo.

A guide to choosing your shampoo in case of psoriasis on the scalp.

In the case of scalp psoriasis, the use of a suitable shampoo is of utmost importance.

Firstly, the shampoo used must be gentle. For this, it should not contain any harsh surfactants (such as sodium laureth sulfate for example). Moreover, it should have a pH close to that of the skin (which is 5.5) or a neutral pH in order to best respect the skin's protective barrier.

In instances of scalp psoriasis, the urge to wash your hair daily to alleviate itching can be strong. However, frequent washing irritates the scalp and exacerbates the psoriasis. It is for this reason that theuse of a gentle shampoo suitable for frequent use is paramount.

In the formulation of shampoos, certain active ingredients are highly beneficial for improving the symptoms of psoriasis:

  • Keratolytic agents.

At the site of psoriasis lesions, numerous scales or immature dead cells are observed that cannot naturally be eliminated. Keratolytic agents (lactic acid or salicylic acid) therefore allow for the effective removal of these dead cells.

  • The soothing agents.

Psoriasis often goes hand in hand with itching. These can be particularly bothersome in daily life. Moreover, scratching exacerbates psoriasis lesions ( 5 minutes of scratching accelerates skin renewal and is enough to reactivate psoriasis for 2 weeks!). Soothing active ingredients such as bisabolol or calendula can help to calm and soothe itching sensations.

  • The nourishing and hydrating active ingredients

Nourishing and hydrating actives such as ceramides, the squalane or aloe vera help to reduce the scales covering psoriasis plaques.


  • STREIT V. & al. Scalp psoriasis Journal of German Society of Dermatology (2011)

  • WANG T.S., TSAI T.F. Managing Scalp Psoriasis: An Evidence-Based Review (2016)


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