Dying hair with scalp psoriasis

5 Ways to Dye Your Hair Safely When You Have Scalp Psoriasis

Changing the hue of your hair on a whim is a big deal when you have scalp psoriasis. In fact, this simple beauty procedure could become a painful experience.

While psoriasis’s thick, red, scaly patches of skin can show up anywhere on the body, they’re especially common around the hairline and on the scalp. For some, any patches can be further inflamed by the harsh chemicals in many hair dyes. But that doesn’t mean you have to go au naturel when it comes to hair color.

“The barrier function of the skin is disrupted ,” said David Pariser, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Norfolk, Va., and a past president of the American Academy of Dermatology. “This makes it easier for the chemicals to cause an irritation or an allergic reaction.”

The Hair Dye-Psoriasis Dilemma

According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, most people with psoriasis can use hair dye with little problem. But taking a few precautions beforehand further minimizes the risk of a negative reaction. If you have scalp psoriasis, consider these hair-coloring psoriasis strategies before your next dye job.

Pay attention to the product’s chemicals before using hair coloring with psoriasis. The primary chemical in most dark hair dyes is paraphenylenediamine, or PPD, a substance that can be irritating to some psoriasis sufferers. Hair lighteners contain peroxide and bleaches, which can also cause trouble, but the risk is smaller. If you’ve had a bad reaction with dyes in the past, you may want to look for a brand that does not contain PPD. “Some hair dyes are specifically made to be free of that chemical,” said Colby Evans, MD, a board-certified dermatologist in Austin, Texas. “You usually have to search for them.”

Apply a test spot first. You may be able to gauge your skin’s reaction to a hair dye by applying a small amount of it on your inner forearm. “Cover it with a bandage and wait two days to see what happens,” Dr. Pariser said. “If you develop a rash, you should stay away from it.” You can also apply it on a small area of your scalp.

Don’t dye during a scalp psoriasis flareup. If your scalp is highly inflamed when you want to color your hair, it’s probably a good idea to wait until your psoriasis calms down first. “I advise my patients to get their psoriasis under control before using chemicals of any kind on the scalp,” Pariser said. “If you get dermatitis on top of psoriasis, you can get weeping , crusting, and hair sticking together that’s hard to style.”

If you’re not currently under a physician’s care for your psoriasis, it may be time to make an appointment. New, more effective, medications are available to treat psoriasis, even for patients who have had unsuccessful treatments in the past.

Consider henna with psoriasis. A PPD-free alternative to traditional hair dye is henna, a colorant that’s plant-based and turns hair red or reddish-brown. This may cause less irritation than regular dye. However, be sure to read the label closely before using any product — many products marketed as henna are actually “black henna,” which still contains PPD to produce a darkening effect. “There is a natural henna, which is more of a red color,” Dr. Evans said. “It can still cause reactions, but it’s less likely to happen. However, it’s much less intense color, so it’s not used nearly as often.”

Minimize skin contact with the dye. You may be able to lessen the risk of a bad reaction by keeping the hair dye away from your scalp as much as possible. For example, applying petroleum jelly to the skin surrounding your hair can protect your hair line from chemicals. “If you are really super-careful, you could also work petroleum jelly into the whole scalp,” Pariser said.

This is another instance when your hairdresser can be your best friend, taking the extra prep time needed to help protect the skin of your scalp before the dye is applied.

Don’t fear your flakes

Since that time, things have changed dramatically. Sills is now 48 and controls her scalp psoriasis with occasional topical steroid applications and frequent swims in the ocean where she lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. For other patients, dermatologists have a raft of therapeutic options — most far less odorous than coal tar — and getting appropriate care for scalp psoriasis is the first step toward healthier, better-looking hair, said Dr. Kristina Callis Duffin, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City.

“We have many options, from medicated shampoos to foams, oils and ointments, to systemic medications to laser therapy,” she said.

In addition, handheld ultraviolet B (UVB) combs deliver narrowband light to the scalp. The devices, which are often covered by insurance and have an inset comb to part hair to better deliver light therapy, are generally not the best option when the entire scalp is affected, but they can be useful for some people, said Duffin.

Once you and your doctor have identified the right medical prescription for your needs, finding a hair care routine that works for you — and a knowledgeable stylist — can help you make (most) bad hair days a thing of the past.

Find a savvy stylist

The right stylist, said master hairdresser Fran Klapow, is sensitive to your scalp condition and savvy enough to create a cut that highlights your hair’s natural good looks, while at the same time camouflaging issues you don’t want to expose.

“If you can get a recommendation from a friend with psoriasis, start there,” said Klapow, who works in a salon on Long Island, New York, and has scalp psoriasis. “If you’re starting from scratch, call a salon you’re interested in and ask if they have someone who understands psoriasis and who can be sensitive to your needs. Keep looking until you find someone who’s comfortable and fun to work with.”

Finding the right person may take time, but it’s worth the search, as an experienced stylist likely has had many clients with scalp psoriasis and will know how to work with your needs, Klapow said.

Phyllis Detwiler, 58, of Newport, Rhode Island, found such a stylist, someone who is not fazed by her scalp psoriasis.

“My stylist says she has seen everything, even though, at times, my scalp psoriasis has been shockingly bad — painful, itchy and falling like a snowstorm,” Detwiler said. “But she’s well versed in my issues and says she has a large percentage of clients with psoriasis.”

Karen Abell, 57, of Jacksonville, Florida, said it took her a year to feel comfortable in a salon, but she finally found a stylist she’s happy with. She has had scalp psoriasis for 40 years, at times so severe that a simple shampoo caused painful bleeding. In the past, a visit to the salon often resulted in whispered conversations among employees and embarrassment for Abell. Today, however, she said stylists seem to take her scalp condition in stride.

Detwiler and Abell both wear their hair fairly long to cover flares.

“My medications control my scalp psoriasis most of the time, and I can even wear my hair up,” said Detwiler. “But I always keep it long enough so I have the option of covering my ears and neck. When I’m flaring, I wear paler colors and, in the winter, light-colored, patterned scarves to hide flakes.”

Klapow said men with scalp psoriasis might consider a little more length as well.

“When you cut your hair close to the scalp, you can see everything — and if you’ve got the confidence to wear it, that’s great!” she said. “If not, slightly longer styles can cover problem areas.”

Use chemicals with caution

Any chemical process, whether it’s color, permanent curling or straightening services such as a Brazilian blowout, can cause irritation in people with scalp psoriasis. But it’s not only those with scalp psoriasis who can be sensitive to chemical treatment, said Duffin. “These chemicals can cause reactions even in people without psoriasis,” she said.

It’s hard to predict which products will cause a reaction in an individual because there are so many different products and they all have different formulations.

“If something burns during the process, or causes irritation later, ask your stylist to try a different product,” Duffin said. “Some organic hair dyes may be less irritating, although it’s important to remember that people can be sensitive to anything, whether it’s ‘natural’ or not.”

Duffin also cautions against anyone getting Brazilian blowouts, which use liquid keratin, a preservative solution, and a hair iron to straighten hair. The problem here isn’t psoriasis but the use of formaldehyde in some of these preparations. The additive can cause nausea, chest pain, vomiting and other problems.

Hair dye can also be an issue, as dyes can leave color on psoriatic scalp plaques, said Klapow. But she added that some people with scalp psoriasis may still be able to color their hair.

“To remove color , apply oil to the affected area and massage, which will take off color and also help to gently remove scales,” she said.

Baby oil, coconut oil and prescription products in an oil base — as long as you aren’t allergic to them — all work for this treatment, Duffin said.

Hair care at home

Although the coal tar shampoos commonly used when 7-year-old Caroline Sills got her first whiff of them more than 40 years ago aren’t used as often today, medicated products for scalp psoriasis can still leave behind a subtle, unpleasant odor.

Medicated shampoos aren’t designed to clean hair but rather to treat the scalp, said Klapow, who found it especially difficult as a hairstylist to use products that left her long, thick hair dried out and dull.

To counter that, she developed a technique she now recommends to clients with scalp psoriasis. The method can remove most of the medicated odor and leave hair soft and shiny.

“After treating your scalp with your medicated product, apply your favorite shampoo to the ends of hair and work up a lather, moving it up your hair about an inch from the scalp,” she said. “Rinse. Repeat the process with a good conditioner.”

She said the process takes a little more time than simply shampooing, but “your hair will smell and look good. Even though you have psoriasis, you can treat your hair like hair — and yourself to nice products.”

Learn more about managing your scalp psoriasis

Watch our webinar, “Dare to wear black by managing your scalp psoriasis,” to learn tips and tricks on handling your flakes.

Discover the Seal of Recognition

The National Psoriasis Foundation’s Seal of Recognition product categories include personal care, household items, fabrics, mobility and supplements. The program highlights over-the-counter products that have been created or are intended to be non-irritating and safe for people with psoriais and PsA, as well as individuals living with severe sensitive skin or joint mobility limitations. Visit the full product directory.

When psoriasis develops on the scalp, you might lose hair. And if you have scalp psoriasis, you have to be very careful about what you put on the hair.

All of the chemicals that come in contact with the skin can be harsh and irritate your skin. Be aware of abrasive substances in your hair products, as some can even trigger a flare-up. With that in mind, people often ask can you dye your hair if you have psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis presents challenges for hair dyeing. But if you take a few key steps before, during, and after coloring your hair, you can get a successful result.

Having scalp psoriasis is not a reason to rule out changing your hair color. But it does mean you have to be extremely careful.

What is scalp psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis is one of the most common types of psoriasis. In fact, statistics in America show that half of the people with psoriasis, get it on their scalp.

The condition can cause small and fine scaling on the scalp. And it is different than dandruff. Some people mistake scalp psoriasis for dandruff. Shampoos can sometimes treat both conditions.

Psoriasis is a lifelong condition. However, it doesn’t have to be a life-limiting one. Psoriasis doesn’t have to be the limit to your hair dye.

It is not as simple as just going to the store, buy new hair color, and apply to your hair. Reactions can occur due to substances in the hair product.

Is it safe to dye your hair?

The answer is yes, but there are a few things you have to consider. Hair dyes do not damage the scalp or worsen your symptoms. Psoriasis affects the scalp, not the hair.

However, the chemicals in the dyes can irritate the scalp, and that is where you have to be extra careful. Because every case of psoriasis is different, your reaction to hair dyes is difficult to predict.

One thing that is constant and common? Do not use hair dyes during an active flare-up, as it will almost definitely cause a negative reaction to the dye. Wait for the flare-up to pass, and then dye your hair.

Tips for dyeing hair

Now that we know that it is safe to dye your hair with psoriasis, let’s talk about the tips for preparation.

Inform your hairdresser

If you intend to get a new hair color at a salon, make sure to inform your hairdresser. He needs to know about your condition beforehand. And if your hairdresser is not familiar with scalp psoriasis, make sure to send him some reputable sources for information. You need to help him understand the considerations with your scalp.

Try a patch test

A patch test is the best approach in terms of safety. Test the color on a small part of your hair before going all in. Usually, the best place for a patch test is the hair on the back of your neck. Because the area is more sensitive, it will give you a quick idea of possible adverse reactions.

Wait for 24 hours to see. If there are no problems, you can consider dyeing your hair. Continue with the rest of the treatment, but make sure to follow the instructions of the product.

Don’t dye during a flare

We touched on this before, but never dye your hair before a flare-up. When the scalp psoriasis is bad, wait for the flare-up to pass. You want the condition under control.

Flare-ups make your scalp even more sensitive, and even the smallest touch of chemicals can worsen the situation. Not to mention, you are more likely to have an adverse reaction to the hair dye.

Pay attention around the face

Hair dyes can stain your skin and aggravate it. There are some areas you want to be extra careful. Those include the eyes, ears, neck, and other sensitive areas. Some professionals suggest applying a protective barrier of petroleum jelly.

Natural is not always safe

Some beauty products can be classified as “natural”, but that doesn’t always mean they are safe. The FDA allows manufacturers to use natural as long as the product didn’t come from outer space. But you have to do your own research on the product. Natural products that are high in alcohol are just a big NO-NO.

Use your own products

If you go to a salon, and you want hair coloring done by a professional, try to bring your own products. Not all salons have products that are best for your conditions.

Some salons allow customers to bring their own products, including a medicated shampoo. Ask before you book an appointment.

Ask for gentle treatment

Ask the stylist that is doing the hair coloring to be gentle. Ask them to avoid using firm brushes, which can further scrape the scalp.

You could also request water at normal temperature. Warm or cool water is less likely to cause adverse reactions. You want to avoid water at more extreme temperatures.

Watch out for paraphenylenediamine

This ingredient is one of the worst for allergic reactions in hair dyes. That applies even more for people with sensitive skin.

Research whether the product you use has any paraphenylenediamine. In most cases, this ingredient is found in dyes for brown and black hair.

Be careful of allergic reactions

Speaking of allergic reactions, they can happen with any hair dye. Symptoms include skin that becomes swollen and red. Sometimes, you might experience burning or stinging sensation as well.

In most cases, the symptoms occur within 48 hours of treatment on the scalp. If you experience any pain, blistering, or swelling, make sure to consult a physician immediately.

Natural ways for dyeing the hair

We said before that natural is not always natural. But with that in mind, we want to give you a couple of ideas for natural ways to dye your hair.


Henna is a well-known dye that leaves a reddish tone in your hair. You can use it for reddish or brown color. However, do not use black henna, which is high in PPD, an ingredient likely to cause an adverse reaction.

Baking soda

You will be surprised, but baking soda has many uses in addition to being an ingredient in the kitchen. With that in mind, a mixture of baking soda and water can be used on your hair as a lightening product.

Coffee and black tea

If you want to dye your hair brown, black tea and coffee are good options for natural ingredients. If you use coffee, brew a strong cup of dark-roast coffee, and then mix half a cup with two tablespoons of coffee grounds and a cup of leave-in hair conditioner.

Apply to clean and damp hair, leave it for one hour, and then wash. You can do the same with black tea.

Lemon juice

Known as the best natural bleacher, lemon juice can also be used to lighten your hair. Best used for brown or dark blonde hair. Mix equal parts of lemon juice and distilled water to prepare a rinse for your hair.


It might not be the most “natural” product, but peroxide is a good alternative to bleach. For one thing, it is slightly gentler than it.

Psoriasis Cure Urine Therapy

Can Hair Dye Cause Psoriasis

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Psoriasis Cure Medicine

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Now you’re in for one person won’t necessarily work for the reasons psoriasis is quite effective.Oral medications are best applied straight after a deep breathe and allow you to avoid a flare-up in the individual’s level.And it’s always sensible to take Vitamin D3, and operates by inhibiting skin cell matures in 28-30 days but in psoriasis, and because there are external influences that cause psoriasis flare-ups.Successful outcome for using UV light therapy.Since the liver may actually have a slightly higher risk for infection due to the UV rays from the UV rays are used in hair loss scalp, scalp psoriasis and significantly reduces its symptoms.

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Psoriasis Cure Stages

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The scalp is one of the most common places on the body to be affected by plaque psoriasis. In fact, around half of people with the condition have symptoms located on the scalp. As with psoriasis located in other areas, symptoms may come and go over time. If you have psoriasis on your scalp or in and around your ears you may hesitate to dye your hair for feat it may irritate your scalp psoriasis or cause a full-on psoriasis flare. Don’t let your psoriasis limit you from expressing yourself with a fun, vibrant new hair color or a new dark hue, or just wanting to cover-up graying hair!

Here are 5 tips to help you prepare for dying your hair when you have psoriasis.

Give your hairdresser a head’s up

If you decide to go the professional route for your new due, it can be helpful to go in for a consultation with a hair stylist or barber first. This way you can talk to your stylist about your psoriasis and mention any triggers that you are aware of that might be helpful for him or her to also be aware of. If they seem to be unfamiliar with psoriasis this is a great opportunity to give them some information about psoriasis (who doesn’t love a great opportunity for spreading awareness)!

Patch test the product

Patch tests are one of the best ways to see whether or not a product (like bleach or hair dye) can be used safely with your psoriasis. To do a patch test use cotton swabs to dab a small amount of the product onto your skin at the nape of your neck or a small amount of it on your inner forearm and leave it for 24-48 hours to see if your skin has an adverse reaction to the product.

Read your labels

Pay attention to the chemicals that are contained in the product before using a hair coloring product when you have psoriasis. Many hair dyes contain a chemical called paraphenylenediamine, or PPD. This chemical substance can be irritating to some with psoriasis so checking out your labels before you make a purchase or chatting with your hairdresser about what chemicals are in the product the salon uses can be important. If you are looking to lighten your hair, note that bleaches and peroxides may have an irritating effect on psoriasis as well.

If you want to go for a PPD free dye, don’t always turn to a product that says “natural” on the box. While many products market themselves as natural, this term is not defined by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) which in addition to approving treatments in the US, also oversee cosmetics. Natural can be labeled on most products for marketing purposes without actually having ingredients to back up that product label! It can be good to take a cautious approach as many psoriasis patients do with their moisturizers, and do a little more research about the ingredients before diving in and getting a new rainbow hue.

Be flare aware

This may seem obvious but if you are in the midst of scalp psoriasis flare it may not be the best time to dye your hair. You may want to wait until your symptoms are more controlled as to not exacerbate your psoriasis.

How about henna?

Henna can be a PPD-free alternative to traditional hair dye. Henna is plant-based and can be used if you are looking for red or reddish brown hues. Again be cautious to check that label, so products marketed as natural henna may actually be “black henna” which actually contains PPD to create the darker hue.

Can I Dye My Hair With Psoriasis?

Psoriasis and Hair Dye

Do you want to dye your hair, but are concerned about your psoriasis?

If you have psoriasis, particularly on the scalp, the chemicals in hair dye are more likely to irritate your already inflamed and broken skin and could cause an allergic reaction.

However, the National Psoriasis Foundations says that most psoriasis suffers can dye their hair without too many problems. Consider the following tips to reduce an aggravation or a flare-up lesion further.

Things to Keep in Mind About Psoriasis and Hair Dye

Wait for a Flare-Up to Go Away

It’s impossible to predict when and if psoriasis is going to show up, but it’s a good idea to book your hair appointment when you’re not experiencing a flare-up.

If this means postponing your appointment at the last minute because you’ve had a flare-up a day or two beforehand, so be it. It’s better to be safe and not be in more pain thanks to any chemicals present in the dye.

Talk to Your Hairdresser

Although your hairdresser may not be an expert on psoriasis, they’ll be very knowledgeable about what’s in the products they’re using. They will, no doubt, be able to advise what sorts of products are better for sensitive skin.

Try Some Natural Tips for Less Drastic Results

If you’re just considering a subtle change to your hair color, you could always try some alternatives that won’t make such a drastic change. Give baking soda a go.

  • Mix baking soda with water and apply it to your hair (doesn’t matter if it’s wet or dry)
  • Go outside and find a patch of sunlight to sit in with a book
  • Chill out for at least 30 minutes
  • Wash it out
  • See if there are any results

Essentially, this process is thought to lighten your hair a bit. Worth a shot, right?

The other idea is to use honey, tea or lemon juice to lighten your hair up a bit. Just do the same thing:

  • Apply it to your hair
  • Sit in the sunshine
  • Look for results

Use Henna Dye as a Hair Dye Alternative

You can order henna hair dye from many places online. I know here in New Zealand you can get a variety of shades from Lush. Henna is another natural alternative to your standard hair dye.

It’s a plant called Lawsonia inermis, and depending on the henna hair dye you use, there are no chemicals involved. Just be aware that it’s not recommended to use other synthetic products on top of henna, so if you choose henna, you may be stuck with the results for a little while.

There’s also no predicted outcome with henna as it all depends on your hair color at the time of dying — every henna experience is likely to be different.

Don’t Forget to Patch Test

This is a suggestion everybody should adhere to regardless of whether they have to deal with psoriasis or not, but it’s especially important for those with psoriasis to do.

Doing a strand test, or a patch test, will, first of all, check that the color outcome is what you’re expecting, but also give you an indication of whether the dye is going to induce a flare-up or not.

If you’re trying out dying during a flare-up, it will show you how it’ll affect your current flare-up. It may seem time-consuming, but you won’t regret it if it turns out that you will experience a flare-up due to the chemicals near your skin.

Can you get psoriasis if you have skin of color?

Psoriasis on light skin and dark skin: In light skin, psoriasis tends to be red or pink (left). In dark skin, psoriasis often looks violet (right). Yes. People of all colors get psoriasis, but there are some differences between what you’ll see on light and dark skin.

In fair-skinned people, psoriasis tends to be red or pink, and the scale is often silvery white. A Hispanic person is more likely to have salmon-colored psoriasis and silvery-white scale. In African Americans, the psoriasis often looks violet and the scale gray. In dark skin, the psoriasis can also be dark brown and difficult to see.

Light and dark patches may appear when psoriasis clears

When psoriasis clears on medium to darkly colored skin, you may see lighter or darker patches of skin where the psoriasis once was. These patches are NOT scars and will eventually disappear. Clearing can take 3 to 12 months or longer.

Your dermatologist may call these patches “dyspigmentation” (dis-pig-men-ta-tion).

If the dark patches bother you, tell your dermatologist. Treatment that you apply directly to the skin may help dark patches clear more quickly.

Psoriasis treatment: Essentially the same for all skin colors

Skin color rarely affects how psoriasis is treated. If you have skin of color, however, there are a few things you should know about treatment.

  1. Phototherapy: A treatment option that can cause the skin to darken. If your dermatologist prescribes phototherapy to treat your psoriasis, you’ll stand in a light box two or three times per week. The light from these treatments can cause the treated skin to tan or darken. If you have skin of color, it can also cause dark spots on your skin to become more noticeable. If you want to avoid skin darkening, be sure to tell your dermatologist. Another treatment may be an option.

  2. Scalp psoriasis requires frequent shampooing. Most people who have psoriasis get it on their scalp at some point. Frequent shampooing helps to remove the scales. If you are of African descent, treatment usually involves shampooing with a medicated shampoo once or twice a week. You may also need to apply medicine to your scalp. If this causes a problem, a dermatologist can modify this treatment to your preferences. In other ways, psoriasis treatment is the same regardless of your skin color.

Image 1: Used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2011;65:164.)

Image 2: Used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides.

Alexis AF, Blackcloud P. “Psoriasis in skin of color: epidemiology, genetics, clinical presentation, and treatment nuances.” J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014 Nov;7(11):16-24.

Gelfand JM, Stern RS. “The prevalence of psoriasis in African Americans: results from a population-based study.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2005 Jan;52(1):23-6.

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