What shampoo is best for psoriasis?
Is there one that gets rid of the itching and flaking?
Fortunately, there are several best shampoos and conditioners for psoriasis.
I’m going to review several of the most popular and most recommended.
The Two Types of Shampoo Recommended for Psoriasis by Doctors
There are two types of non-prescription shampoo recommended for treating psoriasis on the scalp.
The first is made with coal tar, and the second contains salicylic acid.
Coal Tar Shampoo
People have been using coal tar to treat psoriasis for over a century (1).
The tar slows down skin cell growth and alleviates itching.
When you wash with coal tar shampoo, leave it on your scalp for at least five minutes before you rinse.
It works well, but there are a few downsides.
First, coal tar might darken your hair color or stain your skin.
Second, it can make your scalp more sensitive to sunburn.
And third, it smells bad. Happily, some shampoos have a fragrance that compensates.
Salicylic Acid Shampoo
Salicylic acid is useful for treating psoriasis because it exfoliates.
It will help you get rid of scales on the scalp.
Interestingly, it’s also excellent for treating acne.
Of course, there are a couple of cons.
To begin with, salicylic acid may dry out your skin. Also, it can make you more sensitive to the sun.
What about Dandruff Shampoo for Psoriasis?
Dandruff shampoos with other ingredients that reduce flaking and itching may help treat psoriasis.
Talk with your doctor if you’re not sure which one to try.
How to Use Shampoo and Conditioner to Get Rid of Psoriasis
When you wash your hair, massage the shampoo into your scalp. Let it work for a few minutes before you rinse.
Then apply a conditioner to moisturize your scalp and hair. This is an important step as dry skin aggravates psoriasis (2).
Additionally, coal tar and salicylic acid shampoos are really meant to treat your scalp and may be drying to your hair (3).
Although some shampoos don’t have an accompanying conditioner, you can use a different brand. I’ll explain it during the reviews below.
Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Shampoo Original Formula
Neutrogena’s T/Gel has coal tar extract in it. After you rinse it, the effects last for hours.
This is one of the best shampoos for treating psoriasis. It does a great job of reducing itching and flaking. It’s recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation as an effective product.
It’s also mild enough to use every day.
For managing dandruff, one or two washes a week might be sufficient.
I can’t emphasize enough that you really need to leave it on your scalp for at least 5 minutes.
And please apply conditioner afterward.
For those of you who read labels, here are some specifics. The formula has 0.5% coal tar, as well as sodium laureth sulfate and a fragrance.
Neutrogena T/Gel Therapeutic Stubborn Itch Shampoo with 2% Coal Tar
If the itching is driving you crazy, get the T/Gel extra-strength formula.
It has coal tar plus menthol to cool and soothe your scalp.
Solimo Therapeutic Dandruff Shampoo
Save a little money on this knockoff of Neutrogena’s T/Gel. It’s manufactured in the USA by an Amazon brand.
The active ingredient is coal tar.
It also has SLES but no parabens.
Solimo Therapeutic Dandruff Shampoo, Extra Strength
Solimo also makes a formula similar to the extra strength T/Gel.
This one’s packed with a higher percentage of coal tar in a 5% topical solution.
That’s equal to 1% of the bottle being coal tar.
Plus, it’s free of parabens and made in the USA. Try it, and if you’re not happy, they offer a full refund.
Mountain Falls Therapeutic Dandruff Shampoo 5% Coal Tar Topical Solution
Another clone of extra-strength T/Gel gets points for a relatively decent fragrance.
Users say it also eliminates itching.
MG217 Psoriasis Medicated Conditioning 3% Coal Tar Shampoo
Perhaps by now you’ve noticed that the amount of coal tar in the shampoo seems to vary.
For example, this one has a 20% coal tar solution, which is equivalent to 3% of the total formula.
That certainly sounds like this would be the most powerful coal tar shampoo in our reviews.
It’s as close to prescription-strength as you can get over-the-counter.
In fact, this medicated shampoo is recognized by the National Psoriasis Foundation.
The manufacturer recommends alternating washes with a salicylic acid shampoo to remove scaling.
If you’re trying to avoid parabens, I’m sorry to tell you you’ll find them here. On the plus side, they only stay on your skin for a few minutes before you rinse.
DHS Tar Shampoo
Here is an unscented coal tar shampoo that’s gentle enough for sensitive skin. It breaks down scales, lessens itching, and promotes healing.
It has a 2.9% solution, which is equivalent to 0.5% coal tar total in the bottle.
Denorex Therapeutic Maximum Itch Relief Dandruff Shampoo & Conditioner
The Denorex dandruff shampoo/conditioner is a 2-in-1 product. It’s less drying than some.
The main active ingredient is 1.8% coal tar. It also has menthol that makes your scalp tingle and stop itching.
The addition of Vitamin B5 and avocado oil ensures that your hair stays manageable and lustrous.
Artnaturals Argan Scalp 18 Shampoo
This shampoo has coal tar in it, but it’s halfway down the list of ingredients.
If you’re looking for a mild shampoo, it’s a good option as it lacks sulfates and artificial fragrances. Instead, it has panthenol, aloe, rosemary, and argan oil to fortify your hair and scalp.
There’s also a little mint to soothe itchiness.
PURA D’OR Shampoo w/Biotin, Coal-Tar & 0.9% KETO-CONAZOLE + Conditioner Set
PURA D’OR recommends this shampoo if you’re struggling with hair loss. Sometimes that’s a side effect of psoriasis.
The formula focuses on coal tar and ketoconazole, active ingredients that treat psoriasis and dandruff.
There are also botanical extracts that fight hair loss and encourage hair growth. These include saw palmetto, nettle, black cumin, tea tree, and rosemary.
There are no sulfates or gluten in the bottle. Moreover, it comes with a 100% satisfaction guarantee.
Soap Works Coal Tar Bar Soap
I know, it’s the 21st-century, but some people still wash their hair with soap. I don’t recommend it unless you’re using this coal tar bar to treat psoriasis on your hairline.
Happily, it’s free of SLS and SLES, as well as phosphates. Also, it’s handmade in Canada.
It has a nice scent, and it seems to help with itch and inflammation.
Now, let’s take a brief break to discuss another kind of tar soap.
Coal Tar Versus Pine Tar for Psoriasis
Coal tar is a byproduct of producing coal. Meanwhile, pine tar comes from pine tree resin.
Pine tar has a more appealing fragrance but isn’t as easy to find as coal tar. It also may not be as effective.
Still, pine tar is free of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which are linked to cancer. And it’s unlikely to make your skin rashy, red, discolored, or sensitive to sunlight (4).
Grandpa’s Pine Tar Shampoo and Pine Tar Conditioner
If you’re concerned about using coal tar, get Grandpa’s Pine Tar Shampoo and Conditioner instead.
Try it for a few washes to see how it works for you.
It’s plant-based and doesn’t have sulfates. But it foams up into a thick lather and feels cooling to the scalp.
One of the other key ingredients besides pine tar is tea tree oil. This natural extract fights dandruff and acne alike.
Both products are mild enough to use every day, and they won’t harm color-treated hair.
Neutrogena T/Sal Shampoo
Let’s switch gears to salicylic acid shampoos for psoriasis.
Neutrogena’s T/Sal treats dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis, too.
The 3% salicylic acid in it calms inflammation and clears away dead skin. After only one wash, you should notice fewer crusts and build-up.
Fortunately, it has no harsh sulfates or parabens.
Biolage R.A.W. Salicylic Antidandruff Shampoo
Biolage combines 2.9% salicylic acid with willow bark to make scales go away like magic.
The shampoo is kind to damaged hair as it’s free of sulfates, dyes, silicones, and parabens.
BIOLAGE R.A.W. Scalp Care Rebalance Conditioner
Be sure to get the Rebalance Conditioner with rosemary and willow bark. It restores moisture to your scalp and hair after washing.
It also prevents inflammation as it fights bacteria.
I mentioned earlier that it’s smart to use a conditioner even if one isn’t made to accompany a specific shampoo.
Well, this is a conditioner I’d recommend. It’s free of silicones, dyes, fragrances, and parabens. It won’t change the color of your hair or weigh it down with residue.
Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo
The Jason dandruff shampoo blends two potent ingredients: 2.2% salicylic acid and 2.4% sulfur.
But why sulfur?
It appears to help with shedding and fight bacteria that cause infection.
This product has other benefits like coconut-based cleansers plus moisturizing plant oils. There’s also menthol to help with itching.
DHS SAL Shampoo
The SAL shampoo clears away crusty buildup and eliminates flaking if you use it at least twice a week.
It also stops itching and continues to work for hours after you rinse.
CLn Shampoo for Scalp Prone to Folliculitis, Dermatitis, Dandruff
The CLn shampoo features salicylic acid and sodium hypochlorite, also known as bleach.
Why in the world would you put bleach on your scalp?
For one, bleach acts as an antimicrobial agent. It kills off the fungus and bacteria that can cause dandruff.
Moreover, this combination cleanses excess oil and dead skin.
It’s recommended to use this product three times or less per week to avoid dryness.
XtraCare 3% Salicylic Acid Dandruff Shampoo
For extra savings, here is a popular product that’s made in China.
It has 3% salicylic acid to control itching and flaking. There’s also pro-vitamin B5 to strengthen the hair.
But there are some disadvantages.
To begin with, the manufacturer compares it to Selsun Blue which is not a match. Selsun Blue contains selenium sulfide, not salicylic acid.
What’s more, it has triclosan, an anti-bacterial agent that’s come under heavy criticism.
Finally, it has both SLS and SLES plus an artificial dye and fragrance.
Nizoral A-D Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
Let’s switch gears to look at some other options for treating psoriasis.
First off is Nizoral’s anti-dandruff shampoo with 1% ketoconazole. This ingredient kills the fungus that sometimes causes flaking and itching. It may also prevent hair loss.
The formula is mild enough for chemically-processed hair, and it has a fresh fragrance.
Wild Naturals Eczema Psoriasis Shampoo and Conditioner Set
Skip all the chemicals and try this moisturizing shampoo and conditioner instead. It’s pH-balanced to keep your scalp healthy.
Furthermore, it’s gentle enough to wash children’s hair.
The key components are Manuka honey, organic aloe, coconut oil, and cehami. The concentrated formula is based on aloe, not water.
There are no parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances, dyes, or preservatives. It comes with a satisfaction guarantee.
Derma E Scalp Relief Conditioner
Don’t forget the conditioner.
This one is excellent for relieving itchiness and boosting shine. It prevents tangles as well.
It has tea tree and menthol plus salicylic acid. If you’re using a coal tar shampoo, it helps complete the process of loosening and removing scales.
There’s also a therapeutic blend of herbs like neem, burdock, and bearberry specifically to treat psoriasis.
Free & Clear Hair Conditioner
If you have allergy-prone sensitive skin, reach for the Free and Clear Conditioner.
(In truth, get the Free and Clear Shampoo to use on alternating days when you’re not washing with coal tar or salicylic acid.)
This conditioner is pH-balanced and free of oils, sulfates, phosphates, gluten, formaldehyde, lanolin, protein, masking fragrances, and preservatives.
Indeed, the list of things it leaves out is longer than the list of ingredients.
It’s specially designed to moisturize your scalp and hair without leaving a residue.
Psoriasis can be a real hassle.
I hope that these reviews of the best shampoos and conditioners help you find what you need to manage it.
If you discovered something new today that resolves itching and flaking, tell us about it in the comments below.
1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/psoriasis-shampoo#1 accessed December 6, 2019
2. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/scalp-psoriasis-sleep accessed December 6, 2019
3. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/psoriasis/scalp-psoriasis#1 accessed December 6, 2019
4. https://www.healthline.com/health/tar-soap-for-psoriasis by Annette McDermott, published November 5, 2018, accessed December 6, 2019