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What Shampoo Is Best for Psoriasis?

If you’re like me, your scalp is the itchiest area of your body. Your shoulders are covered in white flakes, you avoid black shirts, and you scratch your head so often that people are afraid you have lice.

Treatment can come in the form of oils, steroid solutions, and even ointments, but basic care for it starts in the shower with the shampoo you use.

Shampoo options to treat scalp psoriasis

Those battling scalp psoriases want to aim for a formula that simultaneously sloughs away flakes as it soothes irritation.

If this is you, what shampoos can help? Below are the most popular psoriasis shampoos, including a number of recommendations from our community. Remember to do spot checks first!

Coal tar shampoos

Coal tar helps reduce scaling and inflammation and is well known to help psoriasis. T/Gel (1% coal tar) and MG217 (3% coal tar) are likely the best known over the counter (OTC) options, but you can also pick up the coal tar shampoos Polytar and Alphosyl at most drugstores.

My personal favorite is Denorex, because it also contains menthol (giving it a lovely cooling sensation that helps with itching).

Salicylic acid shampoos

Salicylic acid, like coal tar, helps reduce scaling. The most common OTC shampoos include MG217 Psoriasis 3% Salicylic Acid Shampoo and T/Sal Therapeutic Shampoo.

Another great option is SEBCUR-T, which contains salicylic acid and coal tar together. Note that some people find salicylic acid to be very drying, so it might not be for everyone.

Tea tree oil & zinc shampoos

While tea tree oil is not mentioned as often as coal tar and salicylic acid, many of you love these shampoos. Check out Head and Shoulders Tea Tree, OGX Extra Strength Tea Tree Mint, Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Special Shampoo, or WEN Tea Tree Cleansing Conditioner.

A while back we did a zinc edition of community recommendations because many with psoriasis find that zinc helps. If you are a zinc lover, check out DHS Zinc Shampoo, or Zincation Plus Shampoo (which contains zinc and coal tar).

Other OTC shampoos

Over the counter options must mention Sorion Herbal Shampoo, which contains neem and turmeric and is loved by many of you. You’ve also highly recommended shampoos that contain black castor oil, or African black soap.

One community member swears by Happy Jack Itch No More Dog Shampoo, which contains coal tar, salicylic acid, and sulfur (triple threat!). This community member discovered that every time she gave her dog a bath, psoriasis on her hands would clear up. We love out-of-the-box thinking!

Scalp treatments

Aside from shampoo, what other OTC options are there to help calm your scalp? Scalpicin is a hydrocortisone application to help with itching and might be helpful for spot treatments.

Many of you use oil of oregano or hemp oil for spot treatments too. We’ve also heard a lot about apple cider vinegar (ACV) rinses, and overnight applications of coconut oil to help loosen stubborn plaques.

Medicated shampoos/treatments

If you have exhausted all the OTC shampoos, it might be worth a trip to your dermatologist to see if a prescription scalp treatment could help.

Popular options include Dermovate Scalp Application (clobetasol), Betnovate Scalp Application (betamethasone), Taclonex Scalp (calcipotriene and betamethasone), Dovobet Gel (calcipotriene and betamethasone), and Elocon Scalp Lotion (mometasone). Remember to read the application instructions carefully.

Scalp still itchy? Check what is in your shampoo!

Lastly, for some of us, it’s just as important what’s not in our shampoo. SLS/sulfates, perfumes/fragrances, and parabens can lead to a scratch storm if you’re sensitive to them.

If this is you, check the ingredient labels, and consider something hypoallergenic like Wild Naturals Psoriasis & Eczema Shampoo, which has no sulfates, parabens, fragrances, or dyes.

Most importantly, use shampoo properly.

Make sure you’re using your OTC shampoo/treatment properly. Many aren’t meant to be used like regular shampoo, but rather massaged close to the scalp and left for 5-10 minutes to get the full benefit.

Contact with the scalp is also critical, so having shorter hair might help the shampoo get on your scalp, instead of lost in your hair! Did we miss your favorite? Sound off in the comments!

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