What is the Best Shampoo for Psoriasis in 2019?

Woman in the shower washing her hair with the best shampoo for psoriasis.

Psoriasis is the most prevalent autoimmune disease in the US with over 7.5 million affected by this chronic skin condition. Further estimates by the American Academy of Dermatology place almost half of that number specifically suffering from psoriasis of the scalp. (source) Although there is no known cure for psoriasis of the scalp yet, there are many ways you can manage the condition and get relief from its symptoms.

Psoriasis symptoms include patches of red, scaly, itchy skin that can occur anywhere on the body. With scalp psoriasis the embarrassing symptom of flaking skin that is often mistaken for dandruff is also thrown into the mix. Although not life threatening, if left untreated scalp psoriasis can affect your sleep or everyday life and the constant scratching leads to a greater risk of skin infections or even possible hair loss.

One of the easiest ways to soothe the symptoms of scalp psoriasis is with the use of a special shampoo. Shampoos especially formulated to treat psoriasis are readily available over the counter at your local drugstore, supermarket, hair salon or from many online retailers. In more severe cases, additional medical treatment may be need including corticosteroids, vitamin D creams or the anti-scaling drug Anthralin, which can all be prescribed by your physician or dermatologist.

Your first port of call in the fight against psoriasis should be to change your shampoo and try one of the many specialized formulas available. We will look at five of the best shampoos for psoriasis and how they work.

Product
Details
Our Rating
Our #1 Rated
Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo

Dermarest

Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo

5 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category

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  • Product packing may vary
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #1 Rated

5 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category


Our #2 Rated
Coal Tar Shampoo

TRITON

Coal Tar Shampoo

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category

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  • For psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis and dandruff
  • Effective treatment for scalp itching, scaling and flaking
  • Leaves hair clean and manageable controls itching, scaling, flaking and scalp buildup
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #2 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category


Our #3 Rated
Psoriasis Shampoo

Healthy Hair Plus

Psoriasis Shampoo

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category

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  • PSORIASIS & ECZEMA RELIEF: Advanced psoriasis shampoo for hair and scalp treatment of psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis
  • DRY & ITCHY SCALP RELIEF: Soothes and helps heal common symptoms of scalp psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis and general dry/itchy...
  • HOW IT HELPS: Reduces dandruff, flaking, bumps & sores, scalp inflammation, redness & itchy scalp. Also works great as a face...
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #3 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category


Our #4 Rated
Eczema & Psoriasis Shampoo

Wild Naturals

Eczema & Psoriasis Shampoo

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category

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  • SOOTHING RELIEF - Cehami extract is included for natural pain and itch relief. Our first ingredient is aloe vera, not water...
  • CHEMICAL FREE - Non-medicated and steroid-free. You can use this wash daily. Hypoallergenic. No animal testing or...
  • LIGHT LATHERING SHAMPOO - Most natural, sulfate-free shampoos have zero lather. We use a coconut oil extract as a natural,...
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #4 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category


Our #5 Rated
T-Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

Neutrogena

T-Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category

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  • 16-fluid ounce bottle of Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic and Anti-Dandruff Shampoo to get long lasting relief from itching and...
  • Original therapeutic formula helps control scalp itching and flaking caused by chronic scalp psoriasis, seborrheic dermatitis...
  • Contains coal tar extract, which scientific tests have proved continues to work for hours after the shampoo is rinsed off
HealthAmbition Stamp

Our #5 Rated

4 out of 5

In the Shampoo for Psoriasis category

Why Do We Get Psoriasis of the Scalp?

Psoriasis, unlike many other skin conditions, is not contagious and can’t be passed from one person to another through contact. It is an internal disease without too many external causes. Scientists believe psoriasis is mainly caused by genetics and immune system deficiencies.

Research has shown that 10% of the population is born with the genes that have been recognized as causing psoriasis, but only about 2% of the population will actually develop the chronic disease. (source) There’s very little we can do about the genes that cause psoriasis in the first place, but we can try to avoid factors that trigger the condition.

Scalp psoriasis lies dormant for many years in most people, but certain factors can trigger it. Some of the most common triggers include stress, injury to the skin, certain medications, infections and cold or dry air.

Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is often confused with many similar conditions that occur on the skin of your head.

The type of psoriasis we experience most on the scalp is known as plaque psoriasis with the main symptoms being red patches of skin, a silvery-white scaling of patches, itching and inflammation of the scalp. Psoriasis of the scalp is sometimes limited to a small area that goes virtually unnoticed but at other times it covers the whole scalp extending down the ears and neck.

Milder cases may only involve a slight itching whereas more severe cases lead to more scaling, larger bumps, raised red areas of skin and flakes that look like dandruff. Flakes caused by scalp psoriasis are usually much larger than dandruff flakes and can often be confused with seborrheic dermatitis. The scaling of the skin with psoriasis tends to be much thicker and appears dry.

It can be very tempting to scratch patches caused by psoriasis but this just makes the condition worse and causes patches to thicken. In more extreme cases, scratching too much leads to the skin bleeding, which may be painful and increases the risk of infection.

What Makes a Shampoo Good for Scalp Psoriasis?

There are many different brands of shampoos recommended for use in the relief of psoriasis but they mainly fall into three categories, coal tar, medicated and herbal or essential oil based.

Coal tar shampoos slow down the growth of skin cells that irritate or inflame the scalp while soothing irritation of the skin. Although a higher concentration can mean more effective shampoos, the FDA limits over the counter products to a maximum of 5% tar content due to high levels of coal tar being associated with cancer. Coal tar shampoos are usually not suitable for use with lighter colored or color treated hair as it can dull the colors.

Medicated shampoos will normally contain either a topical steroid or one of the following ingredients – ketoconazole, salicylic acid or zinc pyrithione. These are used for many skin conditions and act as a peeling agent that forces the scalp to shed skin. In the short term they may cause more flaking but symptoms will clear up over time. These shampoos can also contain harsh chemicals that irritate more sensitive skin, with keratolytic shampoos typically only used on more severe cases.

Natural or herbal alternative treatments use botanical or organic ingredients often with essential oil which may include tea tree oil, aloe vera or capsaicin. Although they may help remove scaly skin and moisturize the skin, they are often not as effective as the two previous options, however they are more gentle on sensitive skin and color treated hair.

The Best Shampoo for Psoriasis

With so many different brands and types to choose from, the strength and formula of shampoo you need is very much dependent on your symptoms. We have looked at some of the top selling psoriasis shampoos currently available to find the best shampoo for psoriasis based on its effectiveness and the ingredients used.

Our #1 Rated
Our pick our #1 rated

Dermarest

Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo

  • Quality
    Quality

  • Quality
    Price

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Dermarest make many products for the treatment of psoriasis including creams, lotions, conditioner and this shampoo which uses a 3% salicylic acid and zinc complex to relieve the symptom of scalp psoriasis. In addition to providing relief from scalp flaking, itching and scaling, Dermarest’s shampoo protects and moisturizes the scalp.

Pro-vitamin B5 conditions the hair preventing it from drying out after use and the shampoo has a non-greasy formula too. Repair Zinc Complex added to this shampoo’s unique combination of ingredients prevents redness of the scalp.

Pros
Pro Stops itching and flaking.
Pro Prevents redness of the scalp.
Pro Natural ingredients added to hydrate the hair.
Pro Pleasant natural smell.
Cons
Con Can take a while to see any noticeable improvement.
Con If at any time you stop following the recommended dose
Con you will have to start again for the treatment to be fully effective.
Con Continuous medication of the scalp will make the hair brittle.

Our #2 Rated
Our pick our #2 rated

TRITON

Coal Tar Shampoo

  • Quality
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  • Quality
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This coal tar shampoo is designed to target scalp problems like psoriasis, eczema and seborrheic dermatitis. A conditioning shampoo it uses a 20% USP coal tar solution (equivalent to 3% coal tar) that can fight itching, irritation, redness of the scalp and scaly skin. Coal tar slows down the excess cell production in scalp conditions like psoriasis, reducing flaking and redness and even preventing the symptoms from returning.

As with many coal tar treatments, the flaking may get worse before it gets better. A herbal scent has been added to cover up the chemical odor that can be left behind by coal tar but the smell is still pretty unpleasant and you may want to use a conditioner with a better fragrance and to remove the greasiness it can leave on the hair.

Pros
Pro Maximum strength formula.
Pro Added hair conditioning nutrients
Pro including collagen
Pro revitalize the hair.
Pro Many users find their hair soft and much more voluminous after using.
Pro Despite harsh chemicals
Pro there are very few reports of burning sensations.
Pro Formula is gentle enough to use on color treated hair.
Cons
Con The smell is quite strong.
Con Can make your hair oily.
Con Added parabens to this formula can be a concern for some people.
Con Small print on the product does warn coal tar can cause cancer. You have to weigh up which is the greater evil
Con a slight risk of cancer or continued suffering from psoriasis.
 
 
 

Our #3 Rated
Our pick our #3 rated

Healthy Hair Plus

Psoriasis Shampoo

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This shampoo from Healthy Hair Plus is specially created for the treatment of psoriasis, eczema and dermatitis with emu oil and jojoba oils to soothe inflammation and redness of the scalp. Pharmacy grade menthol and mint extracts encourage healthy skin cells renewal and give it a refreshing scent.

Peppermint and emu oils have an astringent effect on the scalp with antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that soothe redness and itching and reduce flaking of the scalp. Emu oil also allows moisture to penetrate deep into the scalp and carries nutrients, minerals, botanicals and vitamins to the follicles to stimulate healthy hair growth. Keratin and amino acids restore both hair and health scalp.

Pros
Pro Natural ingredients more gentle than many medicated shampoos.
Pro Can also be used as face or body wash.
Pro Lathers well giving rich nourishing feeling.
Pro Added keratin can prevent hair thinning or loss
Pro a common side effect of psoriasis.
Pro Refreshing menthol scent.
Cons
Con Expensive.
Con Mint can be too strong for some people. Some reports of mint stinging the scalp.
Con Sodium laureth sulfate is main lathering agent
Con which can cause irritation to sensitive scalps and cause flare ups in some users.
 
 

Our #4 Rated
Our pick our #4 rated

Wild Naturals

Eczema & Psoriasis Shampoo

  • Quality
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This shampoo from Wild Naturals is sulfate, paraben and fragrance free and has no harsh chemicals or added preservatives. Unlike most sulfate free products which have no lather, this soothing shampoo uses coconut oil as natural foaming agent. Organic aloe vera soothes and moisturizes the scalp with manuka honey added for antibacterial and repairing qualities and cehami to stop itching and redness.

While other shampoos often use water as their first ingredient, the natural aloe vera in this product penetrates deep into the scalp and reduces swelling and inflammation. The chemical free and hypoallergenic nature of this product mean it is safe for use by the whole family, including kids and babies.

Pros
Pro Many reports have stated this shampoo is very effective against psoriasis
Pro Leaves the hair soft and shiny.
Pro Free of sulfates and other harsh chemicals.
Pro Pleasant fresh smell from orange citrus zest oil.
Cons
Con More expensive than many similar products.
Con Doesn’t have active medicated ingredients to peel skin from the scalp and remove the flakiness.
Con Lather may be too light for some users.
 

Our #5 Rated
Our pick our #5 rated

Neutrogena

T-Gel Therapeutic Shampoo

  • Quality
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This original formula shampoo from Neutrogena has been recommended by dermatologists for many years for the treatment of all kinds of scalp conditions including psoriasis. It is specially formulated to provide relief after just one use and provide longer lasting results. Strong enough to prevent itchiness, flaking and the scaling of psoriasis, the shampoo is also gentle enough to use daily.

This Neutrogena shampoo is a combination of a coal tar shampoo and medicated shampoo. It contains a small amount (0.5%) of coal tar alongside other chemical ingredients like citric acid, sodium chloride, sodium laureth sulfate and DMDM hydantoin. Used regularly, Neutrogena claim this shampoo will not only soothe the symptoms of psoriasis but can also reduce future severity.

Pros
Pro Recommended by top dermatologists.
Pro Targets scalp psoriasis
Pro dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis.
Pro Gentle enough for daily use.
Pro Safe to use on color treated hair.
Pro Carrys on working even after rinsing.
Cons
Con Often said to smell chemical or medicinal.
Con Sodium laureth sulfate found in this formula can irritate sensitive scalps.
Con Can dry out hair and make it frizzy in some people.
 
 
 

Our Choice for the Best Shampoo for Psoriasis

If the idea of putting coal tar on your head doesn’t sound to appealing, there are many other alternative formulas that can relieve the irritating symptoms of scalp psoriasis. Herbal formulas or shampoos that use low concentrations of coal tar combined with hair nutrients and scalp moisturizers can be just as effective as many medicated formulas – it’s about finding the right one for you and your scalp.

In our opinion, the best shampoo for psoriasis is the Dermarest Psoriasis Shampoo and Conditioner; it uses skin peeling salicylic acid, zinc and natural ingredients to stop scalp flaking and scaling. The effects may not be as instant as some coal tar based treatments or stronger medications, but if you take the time, it does what it says on the bottle.

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