Psoriasis Shampoos Your Scalp Will Love

| Emily Delzell

Over-the-counter (OTC) shampoos are good for treating mild scalp psoriasis symptoms or removing scales so prescription scalp topicals can penetrate. With help from Meghan Feely, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey and New York City, who serves as a clinical instructor at Mount Sinai Hospital’s department of dermatology, we compiled the following tips.

3 products

The following shampoos have all received the NPF Seal of Recognition, which highlights OTC products that are created to be safe for people with psoriasis.

MG217 Medicated Conditioning Coal Tar Formula Shampoo
Active ingredient: 3% coal tar

Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo-Stubborn Itch
Active ingredient: 0.5% coal tar

Dermarest Psoriasis Medicated Shampoo Plus Conditioner
Active ingredient: 3% salicylic acid

3 things to remember

Use all products as directed. Even effective treatments can cause side effects, such as irritation, itching and redness, that can aggravate psoriasis.

Medicated shampoos are meant to treat the scalp, not the hair. Separate sections of hair and gently apply medicated products only to roots. You can follow medicated shampoos with a moisturizing conditioner.

The best way to know if an OTC product is safe and effective: Ask your dermatologist.

3 ingredients to look for

The following ingredients can help reduce itchiness and flakes, as well as gently soften and remove thick scale.

  • Hydrocortisone is a mild corticosteroid that can decrease itching and inflammation.
  • Coal tar decreases skin cell growth and helps the scalp shed dead skin cells.
  • Salicylic acid is a “keratolytic,” or peeling agent, that helps soften and remove thick scale. (Urea and lactic acid work similarly.) Once scale is removed, other medications will be able to penetrate the skin more easily, potentially increasing effectiveness.

NPF Seal of Recognition

The list of products that have earned the Seal continues to grow. The products are grouped in four categories: personal care, household items, fabrics and mobility. Explore them all.


Driving discovery, creating community

For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.

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