I discovered a red flaky rash on the back of my neck at the hairline in 2017. Here is what it looked like back then:
Needless to say, I was very self conscious about wearing my hair back in any fashion. I tried treating it with hydrocortisone cream, antifungal cream, various oils, all to no avail. I finally saw a dermatologist in October 2017 and he promptly diagnosed me with scalp psoriasis and prescribed medication and shampoos to help.
Not all of these recommendations were Curly Girl friendly, and I knew that even sulfate-free dandruff shampoos could be drying. How was I supposed to heal my scalp while maintaining my curls? Well, I did some reading and experimenting, and this is the result:
No more rash, and I did it while still following the Curly Girl Method.
These are some tips that worked for me along the way:
(1) Condition your ends before applying dandruff shampoo to your scalp. Like I said, even sulfate free dandruff shampoos are drying, so keeping your ends moisturized is critical. Applying conditioner to your ends (also known as pre-pooing) will make it so when you rinse the dandruff shampoo out of your scalp, the shampoo won’t dry your ends out.
(2) Co-washing is a no-no. Unfortunately, scalp issues and co-washing do not go well together. For those of us with itchy scalp issues, co-washing can only make things worse. There are plenty of sulfate free shampoos on the market that won’t dry your hair out. Now, if you do insist on co-washing, you will need to use a clarifying shampoo more frequently if you have scalp issues.
(3) Tea tree and peppermint are you friends. When you get to the point where you don’t need to use the dandruff shampoo so frequently, shampoos with tea tree and peppermint oils are great for soothing itchy scalps.
(4) Deep condition regularly. This is a rule for every curly girl to follow, but especially if you have to use dandruff shampoos on a regular basis. Even if it’s just for a few minutes in the shower, use a nice thick deep conditioner on your ends to keep them moisturizing.
(5) Use any medications your dermatologist prescribes, as prescribed. My dermatologist prescribed Clobetasol to apply on the rash itself, and I usually applied it to my clean scalp before I used any styling products.
While my rash has healed for now, I know that I am still prone to getting a flareup, so I have to be mindful. I don’t have to use the medication or the dandruff shampoo as regularly, but when I feel that itch coming on, I’ll be reaching for them.
So, if you are struggling with an itchy, flaky scalp and nothing seems to be working, don’t be afraid to see a board-certified dermatologist. There are ways to treat your scalp issues and not dry your curls out.
Also remember: healthy hair starts with a healthy scalp.
When I saw my dermatologist for a followup two months after starting the treatment plan, he couldn’t find any traces of the scalp psoriasis. Woo-hoo!
If you have problems with itchy, flaky scalp or even scalp psoriasis, what have you done? Let me know!
The products I used/still use:
Clobetasol (available by prescription only)
Jason Organics Dandruff Treatment Shampoo (you can find this in health food sections and even on Amazon)
Neutrogena T-Gel (only on affected areas)
Shea Moisture African Black Soap Shampoo
Articles that helped: