Ways to Take The Stress Out of Your Next Hair Salon Visit If You Have Scalp Psoriasis
More than 3 percent of adults in the United States live with psoriasis â€” an inflammatory condition that can cause scales or plaques on different parts of the skin, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
Psoriasis plaques can develop on any part of the body â€” but for about half of people with the condition, they appear on the scalp, causing flakes and itching (symptoms often confused with dandruff). If left untreated, the condition can cause hair thinning and hair loss.
â€œThe scalp can be the first area people notice psoriasis,â€ says Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical Center and a dermatologist at MDCS Dermatology in New York City, who explains that the symptoms can also appear on the skin around the ears and the back of the neck, forehead, and hairline.
Even if your symptoms are well managed by treatment â€” usually over-the- counter and prescription shampoos with coal tar or salicylic acid; lotions; topical treatments like steroids; biologic drugs; and light therapy â€” it can be challenging to brush and style your hair without aggravating the skin on your scalp, says Dr. Garshick.
Thatâ€™s why many people enlist the help of a hairstylist. But that solution gives rise to another potential problem: namely, that a trip to the hair salon â€” with a stylist who may not know much about the condition â€” can be anxiety-inducing.
â€œHairstylists who are not familiar with scalp psoriasis and similar scalp conditions may stigmatize it and may offend the client by giving wrong advice,â€ says Monica Davis, a hairstylist in Dallas and editor-in-chief of My Straightener.
For example, a common mistake is a stylist thinking they need to scrub your scalp to â€œget rid ofâ€ the psoriasis flakes. â€œIf your stylist has a look at your scalp and says something like, â€˜We're going to get your hair nice and clean,â€™ take that as a red alert,â€ says Ghanima Abdullah, a hair expert and cosmetologist at therighthairstyles.com. â€œ[That person] is probably about to pile shampoo in your hair and scrub your scalp for all it's worthâ€¦ That's a ticket to major irritation.â€
Still, itâ€™s possible to have a good visit to the hair salon with scalp psoriasis â€” and a flattering haircut as well. Consider these tips before your next appointment.
Tips for an Effective Hair Salon Visit
Ideally, youâ€™d work with a stylist who is familiar with scalp psoriasis. But if thatâ€™s not an option, there are other strategies you can try before your appointment.
- Ask someone who also has scalp psoriasis for a recommendation. Other people in your area can be a valuable resource for finding a good local hairstylist. If you donâ€™t know other people with scalp psoriasis nearby, visit the National Psoriasis Foundation and contact your regional community development manager.
- Call the salon ahead of time. â€œI would recommend people with scalp psoriasis take the initiative and call the salon before coming,â€ says Davis. â€œItâ€™s the customerâ€™s responsibility to figure out if a salon is suitable for them or not.â€ See if the salon has stylists who are familiar with styling clients who have scalp psoriasis and let them know you need a stylist who can help cover your plaques and any hair loss you may have. â€œBe sure they know they can use all of the [hair salon] instruments that they would on someone else,â€ Garshick notes, â€œbut also check that they are comfortable with this idea of not trying to pick off any of those scales and not trying to physically or manually exfoliate.â€
- Talk to your dermatologist about how to avoid a flare. Ask your doctor for tips to keep your scalp clean and calm before your hair appointment. In addition to using your treatments, â€œYou really want to avoid inducing any sort of trauma to the scalp,â€ says Garshick. That can include avoiding tight hairstyles (like tight ponytails), as well as hot hair dryers and harsh brushing. When you do go in, tell your hairstylist to be gentle with your scalp, as well.
- Wash your hair the day before your visit. Use any prescribed shampoos and other treatments the day prior to your appointment to reduce the number of plaques and visible flaking on your scalp. â€œThis is helpful because the less plaque thatâ€™s there, the less likely the skin will be as reactive,â€ Garshick says.
- Double-check what products a salon has or bring your own. Although using the salonâ€™s hair shampoo and conditioner one time probably wonâ€™t derail your scalp psoriasis treatment too much, itâ€™s also good to be aware that salon products tend to be a bit stronger than whatâ€™s available on the market, according to Abdullah. â€œDonâ€™t assume that the salon uses the same type of products,â€ she says. â€œProgressive salons will probably have the products you ask for or allow you to bring your own products,â€ adds Davis.
- Be careful with coloring. If youâ€™re happy with your natural hair color, it may be best to skip experimenting with hair coloring, as the dyes can irritate the scalp. But if you do want your hair colored, â€œBe mindful that the scalp is more sensitive,â€ Garshick says. â€œAlso, be aware that some of the shampoos used for scalp psoriasis can make hair color dye go away faster. So have an open line of communication to help your hairstylist to make the best decisions for you.â€
- Collaborate with your stylist. Your hairstylist wants you to have a flattering hairstyle. When you go in, talk to them about what areas of your scalp you tend to have plaques on, and how youâ€™d like your hair to look. Make sure the stylist is careful of shaving over plaques, which can aggravate the scalp
With the right care and attention, your hairstylist can help you look and feel your best with scalp psoriasis.
Read more on: hair, psoriasis, scalp psoriasis