As far as psoriasis goes, scalp psoriasis can be a blessing or a curse; easily hidden or a beacon of flakey glory. The vast majority (almost 80%) of those with psoriasis have scalp psoriasis – if you are one of the masses the following hints and tips may help hide the halo. Angels are overrated anyway.
1. Wear light coloured tops – the most obvious tip, but the most useful. Certain fabrics show flakes more than others. White cotton is safe. Black leather is not.
2. Practice minimalist de-flaking. Sometimes picking can be quite satisfying: picking flakey sunburn to reveal the fresh skin underneath; picking scabs; picking the nose. But psoriasis is not like sunburn – it can be so tempting to keep on scratching at psoriasis, trying to get to the good skin – but this will only lead to more broken and irritated skin.
Practice the following de-flaking hygiene:
- Before combing consider whether it is even necessary to do so: how loose are the flakes? Will they be visible? Will scratching make your head more itchy? Are you scratching because it helps or because you enjoy it?
- If going forward: wait until the scalp is dry before combing it. When wet the scalp is more delicate, and problem areas are not fully revealed.
- Comb lose flakes gently away. Then ruffle the hair until they fall lose. Using finger nails makes them more susceptible to splitting.
- Stop scratching before it aches, and well before it bleeds.
- Do not pick scabs – this may cause bald patches. Be patient, as psoriasis peaks go down the scabs will dry up and eventually fall off.
3. If using a smelly shampoo, use a normal shampoo after the treatment. Avoid putting conditioner near the scalp unless you are sure it won’t irritate it.
4. If your hair is up, avoid taking it down in public during a flareup. Flakes loosen and get caught in the hair, unleashing it looks like a snowstorm.
5. Keep hair down – going one step further – if you are experiencing a flare up it may be better to wear a light coloured top and keep hair down.
6. Have a flexible parting.
7. Consider colour – My dark hair means I have zero tolerance for potential flakes, but blondes have more leeway. Some people may choose to dye there hair a lighter colour, but be aware that people react differently to hair dye: some find it improves psoriasis whereas others find it makes it worse.
8. Experiment with new treatments or shampoos during weekends or holidays. Not the morning before an interview.
9. Avoid ointments.
10. Go to the hairdressers. Going in, sitting there and hoping they won’t notice that your scalp is going nuclear makes for an awkward half-hour. Tell them what you have, and ask them to ignore it or treat it or whatever. If you use treatment with every wash, pre-treat hair and go in with it wet if you want a wet cut. Or de-flake and go in with dry hair if you like.
Finally, just throwing this one out there – tar shampoo makes my hair mega soft and shiny.
Picture by Evan Leeson, via Flickr – available here.