Dealing with a flaky scalp isn’t just annoying. It can be an itchy, painful merry-go-round you want to jump off of as soon as humanly possible. But how do you know if your itchy scalp is dandruff or scalp psoriasis? We reached out to a haircare expert to find out.
For starters, Helen Reavey, USTI-certified trichologist and founder of Act+Acre, tells us, “Psoriasis is a condition in which skin cells build up and form scaled, itchy, dry patches. It can manifest as a single patch or several patches and can even affect your entire scalp, leaving the skin dry, flaky, and visibly irritated.” Keep scrolling for everything you need to know about scalp psoriasis, including the top 10 shampoos to prioritize and shop.
It’s all about what’s in our shampoos and what isn’t. On Reavey’s list of nos are ingredients that strip or cause scalp irritation like alcohols, fragrances, silicones, or sulfates. Alternatively, she says gentle hydrating ingredients like plant-based oils, extracts, salicylic acid, amino acids, and squalene are excellent options. “These ingredients relieve irritated and inflamed skin while hydrating the scalp and removing buildup,” she says.
Additionally, coal tar is a dermatologist-recommended ingredient you’ll find in psoriasis-treating shampoos, as the dark liquid derived from coke and coal gas from coal is proven to help reduce inflammation and slow the rapid growth of skin cells. Now, if the idea of coal tar on your scalp gives you a little anxiety (it’s perfectly safe BTW), don’t worry. You have many options. We’ll get to those shortly!
Reavey notes that results will vary from person to person and are impacted by more than just your haircare routine. For example, she says diet and lifestyle can affect your scalp health. “Gut health, in particular, can play an incredibly important role in the results you see,” she tells us. “Working toward improving your gut microbiome can result in healthier scalp conditions. However, with consistent product use and a focus on healthy lifestyle choices, many people begin experiencing results within three to four weeks of use and even more improvement following several months of consistency.”