How to treat scalp psoriasis
When it comes to scalp psoriasis, there are generally two types of remedies – medical treatment with over-the-counter solutions, and home remedies.
With medical treatment, the most common treatment option for scalp psoriasis would be with topical creams or special shampoos containing chemicals specific to the treatment of scalp psoriasis.
Topical corticosteroids are considered the primary medical treatment for scalp psoriasis. These include high potency topical corticosteroids such as clobetasol propionate or a potent steroid betamethasone dipropionate gel. These help to reduce inflammation in the affected skin area by slowing down the build-up of skin cells.
The more potent corticosteroids are usually used for treatment of stubborn cases of psoriasis, while the less potent types are used for sensitive skin areas. According to the study “Management of scalp psoriasis: guidelines for corticosteroid use in combination treatment” , corticosteroids are more effective for scalp psoriasis characterized mainly by inflammation, while vitamin D3 analogues are more suited for conditions where scaling is more prominent.
Essentially, Vitamin D3 analogues is a newer type of treatment method introduced in 1992, with the formulation known as Calcipotriol used widely, and Tacalcitol more prominently used in Japan and some other nations. The way Vitamin D3 works is by inhibiting epidermal proliferation, enhance cornification and inhibit inflammation. (Reference: “Psoriasis of the scalp. Diagnosis and management”)
The efficacy of these two treatment approaches vary, with Calcipotriol typically showing effectiveness only after 8 weeks of use. Conversely, with corticosteroids, the optimal effects of the treatment will only take 2 to 3 weeks.
Apart from the above, there are also several other traditional remedies for scalp psoriasis that have been used for ages before the emergence of newer medications. These include Coal Tar, Salicylic Acid and Dithranol.
The usage of Coal Tar to heal various types of skin conditions has been in practice for hundreds of years. These are found in brands such as T-gel and T/Sal. The issues with long-term usage of coal tar would be the strong smell that can hardly be masked by any other type of fragrance, as well as its carcinogenic properties. The fact is coal tar has been found to cause cancer in animals, but its carcinogenic impact on humans has not yet been determined. With this, coal tar users should be well aware of the risks of its usage, versus its benefits.
Salicylic Acid comes in the form of an ointment and has proven to be effective in reducing the scales that are symptomatic on psoriasis cases. At times, this ointment may be used in conjunction with other types of psoriasis medications in order to increase the effectiveness in treating scalp psoriasis. Typically, Salicylic Acid ointments need to be applied for a duration of 2 to 3 days before proceeding to other forms of complementing treatment.
Finally, Dithranol works by slowing down the skin cell division on areas affected by psoriasis. Generally, Dithranol formulations are applied on the skin for short periods of time of between 5 and 60 minutes, and then are subsequently washed off. One of the side effects of Dithranol application is its ability to stain the skin and fabrics to a yellowy-brown color. Apart from that, it can also potentially burn the skin, thus special care has to be taken when using this treatment.