I Stopped Washing My Hair and Now My Psoriasis Is Finally Gone
Some of you while reading this title probably scrunched your noses or thought, “Yuck!” Before passing judgment, hear me out.
I have extremely curly hair. Curly hair mixed with scalp psoriasis is a pain in the behind.
When scalp plaques flake, the flakes or scales would get caught in curls. Knots would form, and I almost always ended up ripping the hair out while attempting to rid myself of the gunk from my scalp.
What is co-washing?
One day, a fellow patient advocate, and curl owner asked if I had heard about co-washing. “It’s where you stop using shampoo,” she exclaimed. Honestly, that was something I could get behind. I was struggling to find something to wash my hair with that didn’t either irritate my scalp or dry my hair out completely or do both.
So, I joined a group she was in and started reading through the tutorials and products recommended. Co-washing is where you stop using shampoo. You are using conditioner whenever your hair wash day is, and a cleanser that will remove the product from the hair without drying it out. Then you dry and style to make your curls look hydrated and smooth.
The co-washing looked easy enough. I then took my findings to my friend whose mother is a hairstylist to the stars. I went to her because genetics make her practically one too, right? Right!
Does it help with symptoms?
She’s got curls, she’s got a mom who knows hair, and she knows psoriasis. I took my case to my friend and was quickly overruled. Thankfully, she didn’t threaten to disown me over this. And yes, I still went through with it anyway, but with modifications. I did not go all in, at that point.
With scalp psoriasis, your scalp is shedding at a rate faster than the average person. You may also be prone to dandruff. Washing your scalp helps exfoliate the dead skin off. When you’re co-washing, you’re not using chemicals that help that process. In the beginning, I was still using a therapeutic shampoo and then my curly conditioner. My hair felt dry and brittle.
Let's give it a try!
And then it happened, last November, I went to get my hair dyed and the person doing the color stripped my hair of all moisture. My hair was extraordinarily dry, brittle, and my scalp was incredibly itchy.
I have no idea what she did since this was a regular color job, and my hair usually comes out super soft. But due to this change to my hair, I threw myself into co-washing, head first. Pun most definitely intended.
I started at first doing the general co-washing stuff, using the recommended conditioner and cleansers that didn’t contain ingredients that strip your hair and scalp of much-needed oils. My hair is on the dry side to begin with, as is my scalp — hello dandruff and scales!
So, I need as much natural oil retention and help as I can get. The other thing I did was take my friend’s mom’s advice and the advice of my new hair person. There are inexpensive tonics you can DIY to help cleanse your scalp and keep it healthier.
The ingredients for these tonics are easily found around the house like apple cider vinegar and witch hazel. Do your research and talk to your hair person as they get training on these matters and can see your scalp better than you can.
Committing to a routine
My scalp was remaining clear about 6 out of 8 weeks of my medication cycle, and it wasn’t always the case before starting this. When I moved to fully commit to co-washing I noticed improvements within a couple of washes.
And then, my doctor increased my medication dosing schedule to every 6 weeks and now I’m scalp scale-free going on four months. The dandruff is still an issue at times, but whatever. So, whenever someone asks me what I wash my hair with, I reply, “I don’t,” and wait for their reaction. And then I tell them that I co-wash and go from there.
I’m sure my biologic treatment plays a part in the healing. But I’ve always had scalp plaques during this treatment and every other one I’ve been on since 2013. So, while co-washing may not be for everyone, it’s definitely helping my hair and my scalp feel and look healthier thus far.
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Do you get frustrated with your psoriasis treatment plan?