Scalp Psoriasis: Symptoms, Natural Remedies, Complications

Dr. Ashish Bhora

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ashish Bhora


8 min read

Key Takeaways

  • Scalp psoriasis is a condition that affects areas of the scalp or the scalp as a whole
  • You need to understand the potential scalp psoriasis causes and try to solve the problem at its root
  • The key is to try to identify the triggers, which usually vary on a case-to-case basis and formulate a plan accordingly

Your skin is the largest organ in the body, and it is one that is often exposed to irritants and potential stressors. It isn’t uncommon to develop skin conditions that are very distressing to deal with. Among these is scalp psoriasis,  a condition that affects areas of the scalp or the scalp as a whole. It appears as thick scaly patches on the skin. People often think this condition is infectious and contagious. However, this is not true.

‘Is scalp psoriasis curable?’ Unfortunately, there is no cure for it and there is little information about the cause, but with proper scalp psoriasis treatment, you can keep it under control.

Given the complex nature of this skin condition, simply searching and trying a scalp psoriasis solution at random may not do the trick. You need to understand the potential scalp psoriasis causes and try to solve the problem at its root. This may include diet changes and even the use of prescription medication to help with scalp psoriasis treatment.

To know more about this condition and a few ways to go about scalp psoriasis natural treatment, take a look at these pointers.

What Is Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp Psoriasis is a very common skin condition. Contrary to common belief, psoriasis is not contagious, which means you cannot catch it from another person. Doctors suspect that psoriasis is caused by cells growing too fast in a particular area, which can cause patches. However, psoriasis is genetic, and it is more likely that you will suffer from it if it runs in your family. About half the people who have psoriasis have scalp psoriasis.

What Does scalp psoriasis Look Like?

Psoriasis causes build-up to form on the skin. It causes raised patches which can be red or salmon colored, with white scales, if you are light to medium-skinned. They can appear purplish with grey scales if you have a darker skin tone. It can be mild but can get aggravated and cause intense itching and crusted sores. Repeatedly scratching scalp psoriasis can cause disturbed sleep and hair loss. Sometimes, psoriasis is mistaken for dandruff.

Scalp Psoriasis vs Dandruff

Doctors often misdiagnose psoriasis as dandruff, also known as seborrheic dermatitis. Though similar as they cause flaking of the scalp, scalp psoriasis causes a thicker build-up of cells. 

Dandruff appears as small flakes which can be either dry or greasy. The skin which causes dermatitis can be discolored, itchy, and often covered in fine scales. Dandruff need not occur only on the scalp; they are often found in the eyes, eyebrows, armpits, mid-chest, back, and groin. Dandruff often indicates other underlying health conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, and fungal infection.

Psoriasis is, however, caused by a build-up of skin, which can cause the skin to become so dry that it cracks and bleeds. It can also cause a burning sensation and temporary hair loss. It also causes dandruff-like scales and a silvery-white scalp.

Scalp Psoriasis Causes

There are no known scalp psoriasis causes and research indicates that there may be genetic or lifestyle components linked to the increased risk of you developing this skin condition. Some scientists believe that scalp psoriasis results from an immune system malfunction, where there is an overproduction of T cells. These attack healthy cells and produce more skin cells, which appear on the scalp in the form of patches that are red and usually flaky.

In addition to this, there are other factors that increase the risk of you developing scalp psoriasis and they are as follows.

Family history:

You have a higher chance of developing scalp psoriasis if one or both of your parents have the condition as well.


Smoking increases the risk of developing psoriasis and is known to worsen the symptoms of the condition.


Being overly stressed negatively affects the body’s immune system and this can be a contributing factor to the development of the skin condition.


Obese persons have more skin folds or creases in which inverse psoriasis rashes are likely to form

Risks Factors For Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis is caused by an immune-mediated inflammatory response, which causes cell build-up. Cell formation on the scalp commonly takes weeks. However, for people with psoriasis, the cells form within days, which makes it hard for the body to shed excess cells, causing build-up.

Psoriasis is more common among people with:

  • Dietary restrictions, such as gluten sensitivity
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Stress, which can worsen symptoms
  • Injuries to the skin, such as burns or cuts
  • Infections, such as strep throat

Drugs can also induce psoriasis. They are as follows:

  • Indomethacin
  • Beta-blockers
  • Some chemotherapy drugs
  • Rapid withdrawal of oral steroids
  • Interferons
  • Monoclonal antibodies

Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis

In the early, milder stages of scalp psoriasis, the symptoms may include minor or fine scaling on the scalp. Stress, cold or dry weather, infections, and diet changes can cause psoriasis to worsen.

Below are the symptoms you can expect to experience if your scalp psoriasis is moderate to severe:

  • Flaking of skin
  • Burning
  • Hair loss
  • Silvery-white scales
  • Dryness of the scalp
  • Itching

The hair loss with scalp psoriasis is usually temporary and doesn’t occur due to the skin condition. In fact, it is because of scratching or rough treatment that the hair is damaged and breaks easily. Getting scalp psoriasis treatment quickly should be a priority if you’re concerned about hair loss as the hair grows back normally after the skin clears up.

Medical Scalp Psoriasis Treatment Options

As there is no cure to this skin condition, your best bet is to control the flare-ups as best you can. In the early stages, this is easily achievable with home remedies; however, in more severe cases, you will require special medication to address the symptoms. This may include taking medication to avoid chronic inflammation and hair loss. In many cases, scalp psoriasis treatment is usually a combination of options and doctors will offer care based on your case.

Here are a few medical treatments you can expect with the skin condition of scalp psoriasis:

  • Betamethasone and calcipotriene
  • Tazarotene
  • Oral retinoids
  • Anthralin
  • Methotrexate
  • Calcipotriene
  • Cyclosporine
  • Apple cider vinegar wash

      Home Remedies For Scalp Psoriasis

Apple cider vinegar directly applied to the scalp can help with the extreme itchiness that comes with psoriasis. In some cases, however, it is also known to cause irritation. To curb the irritation, you can dilute the vinegar into two parts, or you can rinse the scalp after the vinegar thoroughly dries. However, doctors often advise not to apply vinegar to open areas of the skin

  • Tea Tree Oil Shampoo

Tea tree oil in the tea tree oil shampoo can alleviate some of the symptoms due to its antiseptic properties.

  • Turmeric

Using turmeric as a supplement, or applying a topical curcumin gel or cream, can reduce the symptoms of psoriasis. It is always a good idea to check with your doctor before taking any supplements.

  • Dead Sea Salts

Dead Sea salts, when dissolved in a warm bath, can help reduce some symptoms of psoriasis.

Some of these are medications ingested orally and others may be administered via injection. Topical gels and foams are also available that are to be applied to the affected area. Shampoos too can be used to experience some relief.

Scalp Psoriasis Treatment at Home

It is important to note that natural scalp psoriasis treatment isn’t something that can eradicate the symptoms completely, but it can reduce their intensity. These shouldn’t be your only treatment options as medicated and guided care is required to keep the condition in check. With that in mind, you can use any of the following substances to manage your scalp psoriasis:

  • Aloe vera gel
  • Coconut oil
  • Tea tree oil
  • Mahonia aquifolium (Oregon grape) cream
  • Capsaicin cream
  • Apple cider vinegar wash

How can you manage the symptoms of scalp psoriasis?

Keep these tips in mind to manage the symptoms most effectively:

  • Do not peel or scratch the flakes
  • Keep the scalp moisturised
  • Try to Identify potential diet or environmental triggers, if any and avoid them
  • Handle your scalp with care – avoid rough cleaning or combing
  • Get professional help immediately

Complications of Scalp Psoriasis

If your scalp psoriasis gets infected, there is a huge possibility of crusting, discoloration, tenderness, and warmth. It can also sometimes cause swelling of the lymph nodes. Doctors often prescribe antibodies for this problem.

Apart from the above, having psoriasis can increase your likelihood of other health complications, such as:

  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Depression
  • Uveitis
  • Heart disease and heart attack
  • Diabetes and arthritis

Preventing Scalp Psoriasis Flares

Sadly, there is no cure for psoriasis flares. However, treatments can help reduce the number of flares you have and can ease their symptoms. People who follow their treatment plans as advised rarely face intense psoriasis flares and often have mild or no symptoms. 

With scalp psoriasis, natural care options like those mentioned above may be something you can rely on regularly, but with professional recommendation. The key is to try to identify the triggers, which usually vary on a case-to-case basis and formulate a plan accordingly. To do this effectively, you need a good doctor to guide you through the process and provide you with medications, if needed. To find such a doctor, and do so with ease, consider using the Bajaj Finserv Health App.

With this unique and easy-to-use digital tool, you can now access quality healthcare without any hassles. Thanks to the smart search functionality, you can search for the top physicians in your area within minutes, all through your smartphone. To add to this convenience, you can book appointments at the listed clinics online, thus eliminating the need for you to invest additional effort in getting care. You can also consult doctors over video should you need an urgent appointment. The app makes remote care a reliable option when a physical visit isn’t possible or unfeasible. To benefit from these telemedicine provisions and enjoy digital healthcare today, download the app for free from Google Play or the Apple App Store at the earliest.

Published on 2 Mar 2021Last updated on 12 Apr 2023

Please note that this article is solely meant for informational purposes and Bajaj Finserv Health Limited (“BFHL”) does not shoulder any responsibility of the views/advice/information expressed/given by the writer/reviewer/originator. This article should not be considered as a substitute for any medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your trusted physician/qualified healthcare professional to evaluate your medical condition. The above article has been reviewed by a qualified doctor and BFHL is not responsible for any damages for any information or services provided by any third party.

Dr. Ashish Bhora

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Ashish Bhora




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