Scalp Psoriasis: Tips to Help You Sleep

Reviewed by Stephanie S. Gardner, MD on April 14, 2021

If you have scalp psoriasis, the itchy, painful scales may keep you awake at night. Nearly half the people who have it also have sleep problems. Luckily, there are easy ways to get more rest.

Shower Before Bed

Moisture can soothe your scalp and calm the itch. Take a warm shower before you go to sleep every night. Wash your hair each time. Try an over-the-counter shampoo for people with psoriasis. Look for one with tar, ketoconazole, or salicylic acid.

Dandruff shampoo may also help. To give it time to work, leave it on your scalp for 5 minutes before you rinse it out.

If your doctor gave you a cream or other medicine to use during your shower, put it on your wet scalp before you shampoo. Leave it on for the prescribed period of time, then wash and rinse as usual.

Always use conditioner. It will help keep your skin moist. Shampoo alone can dry out your scalp.

Keep Your Scalp Moist Overnight

After your shower, gently rub any over-the-counter creams or scale softeners that you have into your scalp. If your doctor has prescribed medicine for you to leave on, apply it now.

Put a dry shower cap over your hair before you slip into bed. This will keep it damp and hold medicine in. It may make your head sweat as you sleep, adding even more moisture.

Follow Good Sleep Habits

How you unwind at the end of the day can help you nod off.

  • Go to bed at the same time every night.
  • Keep your bedroom cool.
  • Choose sheets, pillows, blankets, and pajamas in soft  breathablefabrics.
  • Relax for an hour before bed. Avoid gadgets with bright screens like TVs, computers and smartphones.
  • Get out of bed if you can’t sleep. Do something quiet until you feel tired, but again, no screen time.

See Your Doctor

Your sleep problems could be tied to a psoriasis flare. If the itching and pain keep you awake for more than a couple of nights, call your dermatologist. They can suggest a new treatment.

Avoid Triggers

Control stress when you can, at work and at home. Learn some techniques to relax. Try to exercise every day, and leave enough time to rest at night.

Scrapes and sunburns can trigger psoriasis. Be gentle when you scratch your head. Wear sunscreen and a hat when you go outdoors.

To lower chances that you'll get strep throat or another illness, wash your hands often. Don't share forks or spoons with others.

WebMD Medical Reference



National Psoriasis Foundation:  “Tips for better sleep with psoriatic disease.”

Abby S. Van Voorhees, MD, chairperson, National Psoriasis Foundation Medical Board; director, Psoriasis and Phototherapy Treatment Center; associate professor of dermatology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

National Psoriasis Foundation: “Scalp psoriasis.”

David Pariser, MD, professor of dermatology, Eastern Virginia Medical School; former president, American Academy of Dermatology.

National Sleep Foundation: “Healthy sleep tips.”

National Psoriasis Foundation: “Psoriasis causes and known triggers.”

National Institutes of Health: “NIH News in Health: Feeling stressed? Stress relief might help your health."

CDC: “It is strep throat?”

National Psoriasis Foundation: “A handbook for teens with psoriasis.”

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