Anyone who suffers from scalp psoriasis knows that it can be both physically as well as emotionally painful. Those dry, flaky scales and red patches are uncomfortable and they are extremely embarrassing. They can occur all over the scalp, but most often they tend to congregate around the front of the hairline- the exact place where they can’t be hidden. No matter how great an outfit you have on or how fabulous your makeup looks, when you have red scales surrounding your face and white flakes dropping off on your clothing, it doesn’t look or feel good. Going to the office with a gnarly scalp and flakes all over your clothes can actually lead to discrimination, even if people don’t realize that they’re doing it.
One of the most frustrating parts of scalp psoriasis is that most of us who suffer from it don’t really know what brings it on. I’ve tried experimenting and for a while I thought that maybe it was a dairy problem. But even after I cut out dairy, I found that it came back. I do feel like it comes and goes throughout the month, so it may be related to hormone changes. Whatever it is, it’s very frustrating not to know what it causing it because then I can’t do anything to try to avoid it. I even asked my dermatologist and got the very unsatisfying answer that doctors don’t know what causes it, and they don’t have a cure. Well thanks for that- really helpful. That send me on a quest to try to find something that would help. One thing that I do think really helps is strong sunlight. This is great during the warmer months where I can get outside and hike or run and cure my scalp psoriasis at the same time. But I live in a very foggy place several months out of the year, so during this time it’s really not possible to get enough sunlight on my scalp to have any sort of impact. That’s when I turned to experimenting with natural remedies to see what could work.
Olive Oil- a natural remedy for scalp psoriasis
Being already involved with skin care and natural remedies, it was natural for me to turn to the many wonderful oils available. It just seemed to make sense that moisturizing the scalp and providing it with the many fatty acids and polyphenols found in oils would be a good idea. First I tried some of the more exotic oils like tamanu oil and sea buckthorn oil I really expected the tamanu oil to work, but found that it just moisturized my scalp and didn’t help cure or prevent the psoriasis. Then I tried the sea buckthorn oil and I thought that worked better. It didn’t get rid of the psoriasis, but it did seem to improve it. I still had some red areas and flaking but it was better. The downside is that sea buckthorn oil is a dark red color. I find that when I put it on my face it will wipe off and not stain, but it was staining my scalp. It didn’t really help to have a stained red scalp- that was only slightly better than the psoriasis itself! So I decided that I should carry on with my experiment and try some different oils.
I had already been using a blend of oils on my body that was 1/3 olive oil, 1/3 sesame oil and 1/3 grapeseed oil, so I figured I’d give that one a go. I started putting it on my scalp and found that it was actually doing a better job than the sea buckthorn, and without the red staining. All three oils (olive, sesame and grapeseed) are clear so there is no issue with discoloration. This blend was working pretty well. Again, the psoriasis wasn’t completely gone but I did notice a marked improvement (and when you’re suffering with this ANY improvement is terrific!). So I carried on using the blend for about a week.
Then I ran out of the blend and was left with just olive oil in my house, so I decided to give it a try. It worked the best! I’m truly not sure what about the olive oil works so well, I just know that it does, and that I love it! As of right now I don’t have any redness or any scales at all. I’m going to try it for the month and see how it goes. I should also note that it’s been raining like crazy where I live so I don’t have the added benefit of sunlight to help me out. If the olive oil can keep the psoriasis at bay this month without sunlight, then I’ll be sold.
How to apply the olive oil to your scalp
So what do you do? I read some blogs about warming the olive oil and wrapping your head in a towel- let me just say that I don’t do that. I don’t think it’s necessary. I put the olive oil in a small travel sized shampoo bottle so that it’s easy to get out. Then I just squeeze a little onto my finger and apply to my scalp right around the hairline where I really get the redness and scales. I do this twice a day: once in the morning after a shower and once at night before I go to bed. For the application before I go to bed I really pile it on. Yes, it will make your hair look oily, but since I’m going to sleep anyways, who cares? Actually olive oil is very good for your hair too, so if your hair is dry you can put it all over your scalp and hair and sleep with it (maybe put a towel down on your pillow though). The nighttime application is the one to really try to soak your scale with the oil and let it seep in. Then after my shower in the morning I will do a very light application around the scalp, being careful not to let too much get onto my hair because I don’t want it to look oily. I’ve actually found that just a touch of olive oil works like a styling product in my hair and oddly gives the front some volume, so I like it. But if too much gets on the hair then it does look a little oily (which isn’t ideal). If you have a really bad case of scalp psoriasis you may want to bring a little bottle with you to work and lightly reapply some olive oil during the course of the day.
I’m going to try some other oils to see if they work as well and I’ll post my findings. I wish that dermatologists and chemists would actually investigate these natural remedies further sot hat we could see what about them really works. Olive oil is very high in oleic acid- not sure if that’s what helping it or if it’s the polyphenols or just something else entirely. There’s definitely a moisturizing effect, but I don’t think that’s the only thing as I found certain oils work better than others. I have to believe that there’s something specific in the olive oil that’s helping and since oleic acid is the primary fatty acid in it that would be my guess at this point (but again, I’m not a scientist). I’m just thrilled that I’ve found something that’s working, so I’m sharing it here. It’s cheap, it’s natural, there are no side effects, and it’s effective- what more could you ask for? One tip- look for organic virgin olive oil that is cold pressed to get the good stuff. And let me know if it works for you!