A woman with natural hair pulled back. Along her hairline and in her eyebrows is patches of scalp psoriasis.

Living with Scalp Psoriasis as a Women of Color

Eleven years ago, I was diagnosed with scalp psoriasis. I remember the dermatologist looking at my scalp and then telling me his official diagnosis. I can recall the entire experience like it was yesterday.

“It looks like the scales and dryness are due to scalp psoriasis”, the dermatologist said to me. “I am going to give you a prescription for a medicated shampoo and I want you to use it every day when you wash your hair,” he said. I remember standing there slightly confused thinking, “But I don’t wash my hair every day."

Lack of treatment options

I didn't ask him any more questions though. I thanked him, got my prescription, and proceeded to leave the office. This is the day when I realized and accepted that the treatment options for my scalp psoriasis were definitely going to be a work in progress.

I am a brown-skinned girl with very curly hair and when it comes to washing my hair, it's not something that I do every day. Washing my hair every day can actually cause my hair to become extremely dry and allow my scalp psoriasis to get even worse.

Unfortunately for me, the majority of the medicated shampoos on the market for scalp psoriasis ask that you wash your hair daily or multiple times per week.

A frustrating reality

As a woman of color, I have found it extremely hard to find treatment plans or topical medications that work for my scalp psoriasis. The remedies for scalp psoriasis that I see on the internet or told to me by my dermatologist do not work for my hair care routine.

I wear my hair in many different protective styles like braids, twists, wigs, and weave extensions. The hairstyles that I choose, I keep for about one week up to a month. So when I’m told by a dermatologist to apply a shampoo each day, it is not only frustrating but it is not my reality.

Because of these reasons, I have had to get extremely creative when treating my scalp psoriasis.

My own tips for management

Through my journey with the disease, I decided to take it upon myself and do my own extensive research to find solutions that work best for my hair type.

One of the things I do to manage my scalp psoriasis and dry scalp is apply oils. Oils such as jojoba oil, coconut oil, olive oil, and grapeseed oil. Keeping my scalp moisturized regardless of my hairstyle has definitely proven to work well for me. There are also some medicated scalp oils that I have tried as well that seem to relieve my symptoms too.

Another remedy that I have tried is using apple cider vinegar. When I do wash my hair, I apply apple cider vinegar and water to my scalp first. This helps to remove the psoriasis plaques before I follow up with shampoo.

Staying hopeful

Overall, I definitely feel that there is a great deal of research that is still needed to be done when it comes to treating psoriasis in people of color, especially scalp psoriasis.

I am, however, extremely hopeful that more treatment options for scalp psoriasis will become available in the future for women who look like me.

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