Dealing With The Barber & Hairstylist

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: July 2016. | Last updated: May 2019

Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition, causes symptoms on the skin including plaques that can occur anywhere on the body. Plaques are areas of raised, red skin that are often covered with a layer of silvery scales.

Around half of people with psoriasis have symptoms that affect the scalp. The back of the head is a common location for plaques on the scalp1. Plaques around the hairline are also common on the forehead/hairline, around the ears, or on the back of the neck at the bottom of the hairline. Having scalp psoriasis can sometimes make a person feel embarrassed or self-conscious, especially when they visit a new hairdresser, hairstylist, or barber for the first time3.

What steps can people with psoriasis take to make it easier to visit the barber and hairdresser?

There are steps that a person with scalp psoriasis can take to make it easier and less stressful to visit the barber or hairdresser. For example, if you know other people with scalp psoriasis in your area, ask for recommendations of barbers or hairdressers who are sensitive in dealing with the condition. When you call the barbershop or salon for the first time, you can also ask if there is anyone on staff who is familiar with the condition2.

Establishing open communication about your psoriasis from the very start can also be helpful. If your barber or hairdresser is not familiar with the condition (although many are), then explain that it is not contagious and it is not a fungal infection.

You should also feel confident in talking with your hairdresser or barber about things that might make your symptoms worse, or shampoo/styling products that work well for you4. Some people prefer to shampoo their hair at home for the appointment and apply any necessary medications.

Can going to the barber or hairdresser make my psoriasis symptoms worse?

If you have open and honest communication with a professional, experienced barber or hairdresser, then your psoriasis symptoms will probably not be aggravated by getting your hair cut or styled. Many barbers or hairdressers will be able to provide you with advice about types of hairstyles or hair products. Your healthcare provider or dermatologist can also provide guidance about the best products for people scalp psoriasis, which you can report back to your hairdresser or barber.

For some people, symptoms can be irritated by things such as blow drying, hot irons, or brushing too vigorously with a firm brush. Again, being honest with your barber or hairdresser about anything that might irritate your symptoms is the best way to avoid trauma to your scalp2.

People with scalp psoriasis can often have hair treatments such as coloring/highlights and use products such as hair sprays, but it’s best to check with your healthcare provider and do a patch test on a small area of scalp before applying any products to the entire scalp3. Some people with scalp psoriasis bring their own hair coloring or other hair products into the salon to avoid irritation. Stylists can also use techniques to reduce irritation, such as applying a barrier around the hairline and ears before applying hair color. Highlights are less likely to cause irritation because the color product itself does not touch the scalp, only the hair above it4.

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