Have Psoriasis? 6 Ways to Pull Off Your Hair Day Ever

Save Your Strands

When psoriasis starts to act up, chances are good that you’ll see red and raised plaques on your scalp. In fact, about half of all people with the condition have some signs of scalp psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation. If the scaly spots extend beyond your hairline onto your forehead, neck, or ears, follow these simple tips for soothing your scalp and styling your hair to make every day your best hair day ever.

Buy the Right Products

Your doctor might prescribe topical treatments or systemic medications for your psoriasis, or you might just head to the local pharmacy for over-the-counter options. “There are many therapies that target scalp psoriasis,” says Melodie Young, MSN, RN, a nurse practitioner at Modern Dermatology Aesthetics Center, an affiliate of Baylor Health Care in Dallas, Texas. “Gels, creams, sprays, and lotions can be very helpful.” You may need to try different products and formulations, both over-the-counter and by prescription, before you find those that work best for you.

Find Your Scent Soulmate

Some of the topical medications used to treat scalp psoriasis contain tar, which has a strong odor. Fran Klapow, a stylist at Salon Montaage in Oceanside, New York, who has scalp psoriasis, recommends disguising the odor by using a great- smelling shampoo or conditioner afterwards. “Lather your hair with it – try to get the shampoo on your hair, not your scalp,” she says. “It will make you feel more feminine and better about your hair.”

Condition the Right Way

The problem with another anti-psoriasis agent, salicylic acid, is that while it helps loosen and remove scales, it also can be drying, says Doris Day, MD, a board certified dermatologist in private practice in New York City and a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center. Dr. Day recommends investing in a high-quality conditioner with anti-aging ingredients.

Style Smart

“You may have to get creative about how you comb your hair to hide the redness and the scales,” Day says. If you have a lot of flaking, you may want to shampoo more often to stay ahead of the scales and make styling easier. However, be sure to wash the products you use out of your hair. “Products can build up and make your hair look heavy and greasy,” she says. And, if you’re sensitive to heat, you may not want to blow dry your hair.

Try a low, relaxed bun to mask psoriasis symptoms behind the ears, for example, says Kevin Mancuso, a certified trichologist (someone who specializes in the health of the hair and scalp) and the creative director of Nexxus Salon Hair Care. “The easiest way to add lift and volume to hair is by using a dry shampoo before styling,” he says. “You can also crimp hair at the root with a flat iron. This technique helps create lift in your hair because it won’t fall in its standard, uniform way afterwards.”

Schedule a Hair Appointment

Finding a stylist familiar with the challenges of psoriasis will help you find a hairstyle that looks good and helps cover redness. If you'd like to color your hair, talk to your doctor first. You may be able to get a prescription for a super-strong medication, like a corticosteroid, that you could use for a couple days before your appointment.

“You want your psoriasis to be as good as possible when you go to have your hair colored so it won’t burn when it’s applied,” Young says. Also, ask your stylist to be extra gentle, Young adds, and to use gentle products on your scalp.

Many people with scalp psoriasis can use hair dyes and sprays without a problem. But, if you’re concerned, have a patch test done in a small area before the chemicals are applied all over your scalp to see if they cause irritation.

Eat for Healthy Hair

To make this your best hair day ever, start with a breakfast rich in fresh fruit, have a leafy green salad for lunch, and dig into a grilled salmon filet for dinner.

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