Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the body and results in thick, scaly plaques on the skin. As many as 80 percent of people living with psoriasis will experience it on their scalp, including the hairline, back of the neck, forehead, and around the ears. It can appear as a severe case of dandruff with itchy, thick scales and flakes.
Members of MyPsoriasisTeam have found relief in products containing the active ingredient salicylic acid — including Sea Breeze, an over-the-counter astringent. But how effective are such products on the dry, flaky skin of scalp psoriasis?
The short answer is, it varies from person to person. If you have psoriasis, you may already know that trial and error can be necessary to find treatments that provide relief — including combinations of prescription medications and over-the-counter products.
However, understanding if and why a product works can help in the process. Here’s what to know about using products containing salicylic acid, like Sea Breeze, for scalp psoriasis.
In 2009, the National Psoriasis Foundation recommended salicylic acid as a first-line treatment for scalp psoriasis. As an ingredient in ointments, mineral oils, and shampoos, salicylic acid performs an anti-inflammatory role and can help soften and shed tough scales. Because of its descaling effect, salicylic acid may be used in combination with other psoriasis medications that need to penetrate the skin, such as topical corticosteroids.
Salicylic acid is considered a key additive in skin-care products. Research has found it effective in solutions with concentrations of the acid ranging from 5 percent to 10 percent. Notably, some MyPsoriasisTeam members have seen results at lower concentrations. “[My liquid pine tar-based cream] has 3 percent salicylic acid in it as well. … It's a great mix for persistent psoriasis,” a MyPsoriasisTeam member shared.
Watch dermatologist Dr. Raja Sivamani discuss how to treat scalp psoriasis.
Sea Breeze is an over-the-counter astringent that includes the active ingredient salicylic acid. However, not all versions of Sea Breeze list this active ingredient, and other versions contain a 0.5 percent, 1 percent, or 2 percent concentration of salicylic acid.
Sea Breeze is marketed as a remedy for fighting acne and clearing blackheads. The salicylic acid aids in drying up the oily skin that comes with acne. Salicylic acid can also soften the plaque and scales that people experience as part of scalp psoriasis.
Sea Breeze also includes ingredients such as glycerin, which some MyPsoriasisTeam members have found to improve their scalp symptoms. “I use witch hazel mixed with glycerin. It has helped a lot,” one member wrote.
Although Sea Breeze is generally considered a face cleanser, some members of MyPsoriasisTeam report benefits after using it on their scalp. “It has a refreshing, tingling sensation to the skin,” one member wrote. “I use it on my scalp with a cotton pad and follow behind it with peppermint essential oil. It feels so good.”
Another member recommended looking for shampoos and conditioners containing salicylic acid. “[They say] ‘anti-dandruff,’ but the main ingredient is salicylic acid, which is made for our condition,” they wrote.
On the other hand, some MyPsoriasisTeam members find products containing salicylic acid to cause uncomfortable dryness. “I stopped using a compound cream containing salicylic acid,” a member wrote. “It was too harsh and drying.”
“Salicylic acid is terrible on my skin. It burns so bad,” wrote another member.
If you find Sea Breeze or other salicylic-acid products unhelpful, don’t despair. Many other products and active ingredients may be effective in relieving your symptoms. Ultimately, you should consult your dermatologist about what options are best for you.
On MyPsoriasisTeam, the social network and online support group for those living with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, you gain a support group of more than 87,000 members who share their tips and tricks for managing psoriasis.
Have you tried Sea Breeze for your scalp psoriasis? Are there other tricks that help soothe psoriasis on the scalp? Share your tips and experiences in a comment below or write a post on MyPsoriasisTeam to find advice and support.