Taming psoriasis. The blog post where I confess my hairwashing habits that work…

Psoriasis is horrible. I have suffered with it, since I was 12 or 13. I mainly struggle with patches on my scalp and behind my ears and on my neck.

I have tried a lot of treatments, shampoos, ointments, creams, lotions, potions, rinses, medications, and some have worked, and some have not.

The Mayo Clinic says

“Psoriasis is a common skin condition that speeds up the life cycle of skin cells. It causes cells to build up rapidly on the surface of the skin. The extra skin cells form scales and red patches that are itchy and sometimes painful.

Psoriasis is a chronic disease that often comes and goes. The main goal of treatment is to stop the skin cells from growing so quickly.

There is no cure for psoriasis, but you can manage symptoms. Lifestyle measures, such as moisturizing, quitting smoking and managing stress, may help.”

Pregnancy and breastfeeding, so far have been the only time when my scalp was completely clear.

Psoriasis is an immune related condition, and can be linked to immune system problems. When I am pregnant or breastfeeding, my immune system seems to suppress itself and the psoriasis goes into full remission and my skin clears up entirely.

Sadly, as soon as my body and hormones have gone back to normal, and the breastfeeding and pregnancy hormones have left my body, the psoriasis comes back. I can’t be pregnant or breastfeeding forever, so I have learned to live with my skin and manage it.

There are certain things that work, in terms of products I use, and over the years I have narrowed those down to a routine that helps to keep my scalp and skin happy and the plaques of psoriasis and the itching, soreness and discomfort that comes with them, at bay. Psoriasis can be very unsightly and I have struggled to visit hairdressers over the years because they don’t always understand what is going on with my scalp. I can only use certain products, and I am very strict about what goes on my scalp and I regard anyone who claims their product can cure psoriasis with a great deal of skepticism because there is no topical cure or treatment. You can’t wash away or lotion off your immune system.

However…

Over the last 18 months, I have been doing a bit of an experiment. My dermatologist mentioned to me that some people with psoriasis can benefit from not washing their hair.

EW!! I said!

Because I used to wash my hair every day, or every other day. I hated the feeling of my hair not being freshly washed. My scalp would become greasy and my hair would look messy, if I didn’t wash it often.

But, I figured it couldn’t hurt to try and see if not washing my hair would help to ease the psoriasis.

The theory is that washing and stimulation of the scalp causes the skin to produce more cells, which increases the plaque growth. Washing and scrubbing your scalp removes the plaques but more come back.

So, last summer, I stopped washing my hair.
Ok, I didn’t stop entirely. I weaned my hair down to being washed once every ten days.

You are all going “er mah gad, that is SO gross!!!”

It took about three months, and a regimen of a coal tar shampoo, a herbal shampoo, and simply rinsing my hair (if it got sweaty from exercise etc) and now I wash my hair every ten days or so.
Is it gross?
No not really. My hair doesn’t smell, it only starts to look greasy maybe a day or two before it needs to be washed, and with judicious use of dry shampoo (not on the roots of my hair, ever, that doesn’t help the psoriasis, but on a brush and applied lightly to areas that need a bit of help) and much less stimulation from washing.

Does it work?

Very unscientifically, for me, yes it does. I would say I have about twenty five percent plaque areas, mainly around my ears and front hair line and the rest seems to have eased. It is much less itchy, and I seem to be managing the soreness and irritation better. This is a vast improvement from almost the whole of my scalp being covered in plaques and sore and often weeping or bleeding.

The pudding proof that my hair isn’t gross?

I have had three visits to hair salons in the past 8 weeks to have my hair styled and blow dried. Each time, the lovely staff dealing with my hair, have told me how healthy my hair is and how soft and in good condition it is, and when I tell them I don’t wash it often, they are amazed. The last visit, the person didn’t even notice my psoriasis and when I told them about it, she asked me to show her, and commented that she had seen much much worse, and I must be doing something right.

It may not be a cure, it may not last forever, but for now, for the first time in a long time, I have started to feel like I can face the hair salon again, and wear my hair down.

One day there will be a proper cure, and they will work out a way to work on the immune system issues that causes psoriasis, and I will be in the queue to try out whatever they come up with.

I could opt for long term immune suppressant medications, but those have other side effects and can affect other parts of your body, and having tried them, I would prefer not to for now.

So I will keep not washing my hair. It seems to work.

*this is not a medical post, and what works for me may or may not work for you, and in no way is this medical advice. I have been working on dealing with my scalp issues with the close supervision of a qualified dermatologist. Please seek medical input if you are looking to try and improve your scalp issues*

Below are some skin treatments that work for me. These are not sponsored or paid for promotions. 

This can’t be used when pregnant or trying to conceive, so I use this Pure Potions shampoo instead…

Rosemary oil is known to help scalp conditions. I occasionally rinse my scalp with it, or use it with a base oil and massage my scalp with it, and leave it for a few minutes then rinse. 

 

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