Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is psoriasis that forms on the scalp, neck and behind the ears. Psoriasis scales that form on the scalp are thicker than other scales and require special treatment.

What are the Causes of Scalp Psoriasis?

Psoriasis is a condition caused by a weakened immune system which causes the skin cells to develop rapidly. In the case of scalp psoriasis, the skin cells form daily, and the scaly patches can grow very quickly.

Know the Risk Factors

Risk factors for psoriasis include heredity, obesity, smoking and stress. Approximately half of people who have psoriasis will develop scalp psoriasis.

Look for Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis

Most people who develop scalp psoriasis already have psoriasis so the dry and itchy feeling on the scalp is one of the first indications the psoriasis may have spread to the scalp. Other symptoms of scalp psoriasis include dandruff like flakes and bleeding caused by scratching.

Scratching the scalp can cause the condition to spread and lead to infection. Those who have scalp psoriasis should avoid scratching the scales and seek immediate medical treatment.


Sometimes a dermatologist can diagnose scalp psoriasis just by looking at the scalp. To determine the diagnosis for certain, the doctor may take a skin sample for lab testing to confirm the condition.

If your scalp psoriasis is not too severe, over- the- counter medications and shampoos formulated for psoriasis may help control the condition. However, during flare-ups, a dermatologist may prescribe medicated shampoos, scale softeners, injections and light treatments. When shopping for over- the- counter medications in shampoos or topical creams, look for ingredients such as salicylic acid, lactic acid, or selenium acid. Salicylic acid has a peeling agent that helps to soften scales. When using over- the- counter or prescribed medications directly on the scalp make sure you are protecting your ears with petroleum jelly and cotton balls. Additionally, use the topical medications sparingly.

Light therapy may include UVB phototherapy or short doses of direct sunlight on the scalp. Be aware that some psoriasis medications promote sunburn.

More severe cases may require ultraviolet light treatments done under the care of a physician. If you opt for this treatment, consistency is very important.

Learn about other potential treatments available.