Latest Research on Psoriasis Treatment

By Janice Uhl - March 27, 2018

Dry itchy scalp? Do you envy shampoo commercials? Can you no longer wear dark shirts for fear of the dandruff snowstorm that will mark the shoulders? Most of us assume that we simply have dry scalp or bad dandruff, when the reality is that some of us suffer from something more serious: psoriasis.


psoriasis, treatment


Over 7.5 million Americans suffer from psoriasis, mostly resigned to the scalp. Psoriasis can be mild and unnoticeable, but in severe cases can lead to thick, crusted sores, as well as itching which can lead to infection or hair loss.


Half of all of those with psoriasis have it on their scalp. The scalp’s skin cells grow quickly and make powdery or thick scales known as “plaques”. Red spots often appear and can lead to intense itchiness.

Scalp psoriasis can cause mild scaling or crusting of the entire scalp, and in severe cases of psoriasis may extend to the forehead, nose, beard, or ears. Mild scaling can improve untreated. It can take several months to properly treat more severe dandruff. Special shampoos or moisturizers can help with keeping psoriasis away for good, but keep in mind: there is no cure for psoriasis.



psoriasis, treatment

Your treatment will depend on: severity of the psoriasis, previous response to psoriasis treatments, whether or not psoriasis has spread, and how much hair you have.

Common treatments for mild cases of psoriasis are medications applied directly to the scalp. More severe cases of psoriasis elsewhere on the body may require psoriasis medication to be taken by mouth or injection. If your psoriasis doesn’t respond to given treatment, a doctor will likely replace or combine it with another type. Don’t be impatient if this is the case. Psoriasis is nothing if not tricky, and patience is key.

The first step in treating psoriasis is to soften and remove the scales that build up on your head. Then the skin is ready for the ointments that promise relief.

Additionally, the right shampoo is extremely important. Consult your pharmacist or dermatologist and look for those with salicylic acid, which encourages peeling and loosening of the scales. Other ingredients to look for are lactic acid, urea, tar, and phenol. Putting oil on the scalp (either vegetable, coconut, or olive) may help remove scales as well.



Home treatments can include creams that contain mineral oil, glycerin, and phenol. Run the cream into your scalp and let it sit for 30 to 60 minutes. Then:

  • Wrap a hot, moist towel around your head for 20 minutes
  • Dry with a hair dryer
  • Wait overnight (don’t forget to wear a shower cap to protect your pillows)
  • The next morning: shampoo as per usual and comb out the dry, flaked scales carefully

Unfortunately, home remedies are not always successful. When dealing with severe cases of psoriasis, more intensive solutions are required.

Biologic Drugs: Usually prescribed for more moderate to severe psoriasis cases, given by injection or IV

Systemic Drugs: Moderate to severe psoriasis and psoriatic require systemic drugs—prescription drugs that are taken orally or by injection

Phototherapy (Light Therapy): Ultraviolet lights are used to try and quell the scaling

Oral Treatments: There are tablet options, such as apremilast, which your doctor may prescribe


Whichever treatment works for you, don’t fret. Though there is no cure, this is a treatable ailment.