How to Regulate Scalp Conditions from the Inside Out

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As you all (might) know, in addition to being a transitioner, blogger, awesome girlfriend (haha), and wellness enthusiast, I am also a psoriasis  sufferer. Gosh, that sounds worse than it actually is. But anyway, I make mention of that because there are several challenges that confront those of us who have psoriasis, especially on our scalps. Because of frequent flaking and scaling, scalp-revealing styles are embarrassing. Long-term protective styling is impractical (read: braids, weaves, even bunning in some cases), because scales surface every 2-4 days and require frequent lifting/washing from the scalp. This leads to high manipulation, increased likelihood of breakage. Because the scales itch, there is a greater chance that sufferers will scratch plaque sites — causing potential damage to the skin/scalp, and making the site of the skin break more prone to infection and hair loss. On top of those concerns and many, many, more, psoriasis sufferers must be on their toes treatment-wise. Because it adapts quickly, treatments and solutions have to be rotated regularly to maintain effectiveness.

In a previous article, we discussed the effectiveness of oils, solutions, shampoos, and treatments on scalp psoriasis. While there are dozens of over-the-counter, prescription strength, and natural treatments that can be applied to the scalp, there is a growing body of research that suggests that when it comes to psoriasis (and many other conditions), what we do to, and put in our bodies is just as important as how we treat the scalp issues topically.

Let’s dive head first into some internal factors that can help or hurt those suffering from psoriasis. Sidebar: non-sufferers can benefit too!

Please note that I am not a doctor, or other health professional. I have dealt with psoriasis for nearly 12 years, and the information I present comes from my own journey and experiences. As with anything related to natural hair, you must do what works for you. What helps me may not help you, and vice versa. This is all about sharing information :-)

Helps

1. Consuming Fish and Omega 3s: Whether you love grilled salmon, mix flax seeds in your oatmeal, or chuck a capsule, getting Omega 3s in your system is essential. Because psoriasis is an autoimmune condition and manifests itself as skin inflammation, consuming foods and supplements with anti-inflammatory properties can help counter it. Bonus: the essential fatty acid, alpha-linoleic acid (ALA) is believed to support cardiac health. I don’t eat a lot of fish, and the only flax seeds I have are for making gel (hehe). So to get my Omega 3 fix, I like to take Garden of Life Oceans 3 Beyond Omega-3.

2. Get Your A and D: Vitamins, that is…not the ointment. Vitamin A and D are crucial to skin health. Vitamin A is necessary for skin maintenance and repair. It will help prevent acne, dry skin, and support healing (if you’re a scalp scratcher like me). Vitamin D shows promise in helping to regulate auto-immune responses within the body — a direct link to slowing down psoriasis. The good thing about these two is that you don’t need to run out to Vitamin Shoppe to get them. Have some eggs, carrots, tomato, watermelon or mango to get your A Vitamins, and soak up 10-15 minutes of sun to activate the Vitamin D stored in your body. I like to get my Vitamin A fix from my multivitamins. My Vitamin D source is the gorgeous California sunshine (I love tanning in the Spring/Summer…don’t judge me). If you’re in a climate that isn’t conducive to chillin’ in the sun, you can always speak with a dermatologist about UV light treatments. Just be careful not to get sunburn like I did.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar: We naturals looooove us some ACV, don’t we? We use it to clarify our scalps, do rinses to seal cuticles, and much more. Apple Cider Vinegar is effective in pH balancing hair and scalp, and is definitely beneficial for sufferers and non-sufferers alike. However, when looking for alternative treatments for scalp and body psoriasis, ingesting ACV internally comes in to play. Just as pH balancing is important for healthy hair, it goes the same for a healthy body. As you can tell from the surge in marketing and availability of uber-expensive Alkalized Water (don’t buy it!!!), to crazy alkaline diets, it is widely believed that our bodies perform best when pH balanced. In fact, a number of theories suggest that the root of many ailments, diseases, and auto-immune conditions is an acidic pH imbalance. To bring your body back to balance, consume 1 tablespoon of ACV mixed with 8oz of water 1-3 times a day, every day for two weeks. It may take up to two weeks or a month to show some improvement. Bonus: If you want to get really scientific, test your pH before (with urine or saliva), then test it again in two weeks!

4. Work It Out: Yes, yes, yes. Exercise. Sometimes, I feel like physical activity is a cure-all…and it just might be. Not only is exercise great for your hair (hello, blood circulation and growth), it is great for reducing risk factors for hypertension, diabetes, cancer, bad credit, and more. For psoriasis sufferers, exercise and physical activity are proven stress-busters, and can also help reduce inflammation in the body. You will see a little later why that is important. But really, do you need another reason to get up and move?

Hurts

1. Dairy and Fatty Red Meats: Sorry folks, this means cutting back on your beloved double cheesy burger and chocolate shake. According to several studies and sources, dairy and fatty red meats contain a sugar molecule (Neu5Gc, for those that care) that humans cannot synthesize. As a result, our cells absorb it, and the body produces antibodies against it. After a few years of ingesting dairy and fatty red meat, the antibody production may trigger a mild but continuous inflammatory immune response. What is psoriasis again? Exactly. I’m not suggesting that you swear off steaks and mac & cheese forever, but significant reduction in consumption may help. I personally stopped eating beef and drinking cow milk once I started buying my own groceries. Not for any reasons related to psoriasis or health, I just always felt they both tasted funny. But as the years have passed, I noticed that my scalp and skin psoriasis is increasingly less severe.

2. Stress: This one is a personal toughie. Our bodies stress responses are triggered by so many things — the self-consciousness that comes along with psoriasis, terrible traffic, work deadlines, screaming children, arguing with your significant other, financial woes, and the list goes on. It is practically impossible to live a stress free life. If you’ve somehow found the path to stress-free living, take your ticket and prepare for immediate ascent into heaven. Meanwhile back on Earth, the rest of us are tasked to reducing our daily stressors, and finding effective coping mechanisms. When our bodies are stressed, cortisol production raises, and alters our immune system. No coincidence here that stress can cause our bodies to retain/gain weight, and make us more susceptible to colds and other illness! Not to mention, stress can trigger hair loss…but that’s another post.  Regardless of the reason for our stress, we psoriasis sufferers have to learn to get a handle on it before it harms our hair and bodies. Seeking support groups, exercise, simplifying commitments, yoga, and learning stress-management skills are all ways to help keep this beast from rearing its ugly head too often.

3. Blame it on the A-a-a-a-a-alcohol: My apologies once again. The life of a psoriasis sufferer seems so un-fun now, huh? It’s really not so bad. The truth about alcohol (in addition to killing brain cells, causing kidney and liver damage) is that it dehydrates you. It dries your skin out. This is of paramount concern to a psoriasis sufferer because dry skin is the enemy. Not only can it create a breeding ground for more scales and plaques on the scalp/skin, it dries out the already existing ones, making them more prone to cracking, damage, and infection. I gave up regular drinking a few years ago, to help support my personal health goals. I still have a glass of wine or a pomegranate margarita on occasion (once every 5-6 months or so), but the every weekend clubbing or drinking with friends at gatherings or restaurants is gone. My body, scalp, skin, and wallet all thank me for it.

4. Cigarette Smoking: Go ahead and make psoriasis condition number 845,475,981 linked to cigarette smoking. On top of cancers, lung issues, heart, and circulation problems, cigarettes have been proven to have a definite link to psoriasis severity. For those that smoke a pack or more of cigarettes per day, the risk of increased psoriasis severity doubles. For those that smoke 10 cigarettes per day or less, the risk is 30%. But for women, those that smoke or have only recently quit have a 72% likelihood of increased psoriasis severity versus nonsmokers. No time like the present to kick that habit….

What other internal checks do you use to help keep your scalp happy and healthy?

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Christina Patrice

Christina Patrice

Born, raised, and living in Los Angeles, Christina is BGLH's resident transitioning expert and product junkie. In addition to loving all things hair, she is a fitness novice and advocate of wearing sandals year-round. For more information on transitioning, natural hair, and her own hair journey, visit maneobjective.com. Or, if you like pictures follow Christina on Instagram @maneobjective.

 

21 thoughts on “How to Regulate Scalp Conditions from the Inside Out

  1. I love this article, I dont have the same condition but I have Endometriosis and my diet is exactly the same except for acv.

    Before switching to that diet, my hair was horrible, it was weak and could break very easily, but now am happy..my hair is growing strong and my Endometriosis is getting better!

    Am working really hard to take care of myself to prevent surgery.

    Ladies, I love you, love this site n community, lets take care of ourselves and be happy! :)

    MUCH LOVE xoxo n greetings from Africa!

  2. I would suggest if you have a sweet tooth and love eating sugary foods, cut them out of your diet. I did just this after i developed ezcema on my neck and scalp, in fact the worst hit area was my scalp. It was a horrible time for me all i wanted to do was scratch but i knew i’d make the problem worse. So i set about ditching the sugary foods and hey presto, after 2 or so weeks the ezcema cleared up completely and has never returned.

  3. Thank u soo much. I thought I was suffering alone. I’d wash and deep condition and the flakes would get bigger and flakier.

  4. Love this article! I too am battling scalp psoriasis. The over the counter medication I use is fairly effective and it does wonders to my scalp but it makes my wallet cry rivers! The whole of last week and this weekend I was searching for stuff I can do at home that can help with the psoriasis, I saw some other articles speaking of washing the hair with ACV but tomorrow I will try your suggestion of drinking it with the water. I’ll try your tips along with one or two others I found and see if I can cut back on how regularly I have to buy my meds and stop hurting my wallet so badly. Thanks for the post!

  5. Thanks for this article. I can personally attest to the no dairy. I became lactose intolerant but then soon discovered lactaid and chugged it down like there was no tomorrow. Very soon afterwards my scalp inflamed worse than it had in years! However, I’ll have to be more diligent with taking my omega 3s :)

  6. Wow… well I’ve been battling psoriasis for years lately it’s got really bad! Sometimes it goes away then it comes back with a vengeance! I recently put pine oil and olive oil on last night only for my scalp to react – saying – I don’t like that either! And promptly gave me more scabs to pick! Just this weekend I washed my hair and steamed it with olive, coconut oil and lemon juice with a bit of black pepper – and this worked – well for two days anyway! I messed it up by oiling scalp with pine and olive oil!

    What I found interesting in this article is that I am on a strict vegetable/salad hardly no meat diet and its working (on my face anyway!) – But – I have been unable to give up milk in my tea and sugar —oooh sugar – how I love sugar!! As it happens I was reading at the weekend how terrible sugar is and how I should really stop it together! And now reading this article that it could be the very culprit behind this retched psoriasis! Oddly enough this morning I happen to not put any sugar in my tea! I will definitely continue this! I have the strength to do it now!

    The ACV is interesting because when my mum had a very bad cough – I gave her a little of ACV with water – and it made the cough go away!! I didn’t know it could possibly be the thing to help me!

    Someone mentioned here about hemp oil – is that the same as Neem oil?? Well Im about to get some Neem oil – as i read it was good for growth and it mentions psoriasis!

    I will probably add hemp oil to my list of things to get! Well if it helped someone here – hopefully it will do the same for me!

    Well thanks for this post – I really enjoyed it! Very timely I thought!

  7. Thank you so much for this article. My scalp psoriasis has been driving my crazy and I certainly see some things that I need to improve on. I would also add that cutting down on eating processed sugar helps me a LOT!

  8. I do not have psoriasis but I do have eczema. It is more on my skin than in my scalp. Eating less sugar and no dairy does help most people with eczema. I recently started taking Omega 3’s and haven’t seen the difference yet. If you don’t like the taste of ACV, try lemon in your water. I have done the UV lights at the dermatologist and that was crazy expensive and I didn’t see a difference after a month – would never do that again. I do exercise 3 – 4 days a week and that helps, warm shower afterwards and immediately apply olive oil or shea butter or Eucerin. That really helps! DRINK PLENTY OF WATER also to hydrate the body.

  9. I agree with the other ladies, Great article! I too suffer from psoriasis and sebhorric dermatitis on my scalp, so it’s no fun. I’ve had the sores, irritation, scabs, dandruff, you name it. I think that not handling my stress very well and then eating lots of sugar to cope with it made my condition worse. I find that not only are sugars bad, dairy, etc, but breads/pasta as well, because those are also complex sugars. I find that even if I don’t each much sweets, just eating bread causes my condition to worsen. I had bread twice yesterday and I’m really paying for it today. My scalp is itching, around my face, ears, and even inside my ear drum is itchy. One thing that I find does help is using rosemary oil and diluting it with either olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, etc., and using something like Aveeno soap or lotion on my face/neck. Unfortunately skin issues are hereditary for me because my mom has similar issues as well.

  10. I haven’t had a perm in a while in hopes of relieving my dermatitis. I was wondering what I could cut out or add to my diet. I’m definitely going to give these suggestions a try. I know my dermatologist ordering me to wash my hair twice a week.

  11. People who don’t manage stress well can have headaches, stomach pain, sleeping problems, illness, and depression. You can help manage stress by journaling, meditating, exercising, talking to others, or engaging in a hobby..`::

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  12. Pingback: How to Battle Dry Skin and Scalp with Black Soap this Winter | Black Girl with Long Hair

  13. Pingback: Hair Care Post! | Shoes, Sex, & Bacon!

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