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Keratolytic and Hydrating Shampoo Improves Signs of Scalp Psoriasis


In a study, researchers found that after 4 weeks of regular use, shampoo containing salicylic acid, urea, and glycerin significantly reduced Psoriasis Scalp Severity Index.

To evaluate the efficacy and tolerability of a keratolytic and hydrating shampoo with 2% salicylic acid, 5% urea, and 1% glycerin (active shampoo) on managing scalp psoriasis, researchers conducted a 30-day trial of adults with mild-to-moderate psoriasis on the scalp. The study found the shampoo significantly improved signs and symptoms of the disease.1



In the single-center, randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled study, 67 adults applied the active shampoo or its vehicle daily for 2 minutes from days 1-15. They then applied the shampoo 3 times per week until day 30 after discontinuing their psoriasis treatment.

Examinations of participants’ scalp were done on day 1 pre-wash, day 1 post-wash, day 8, day 15, and day 30. “Efficacy was assessed using the Psoriasis Scalp Severity Index (PSSI), including erythema, scaling, and induration on a 5-point scale each, were summed and weighted by the percentage of the affected area in 4 defined areas on the scalp and the total surface affected was calculated, the (IGA) and the evolution of clinical signs and symptoms.”1 Quality of life was measured using the scalp dermatitis-specific quality-of-life issues (SCALPDEX) questionnaire.

Mean age of participants was 43.2 years. Of participants, 58.2% had mild psoriasis and 41.8% had moderate scalp psoriasis.

Participants using the active shampoo reported being very satisfied with the results and stated that they wished to continue its use. At the day 30 evaluation, PSSI was significantly reduced (69%) immediately after washing, compared with the vehicle results (13%).

Irritation scores decreased significantly (p < 0.001) immediately, with measurements of 26.8%, 27.3%, 39.9%, and 33.8% at day 1, 8, 15, and 30, respectively.

The trial results showed significant improvement in scalp psoriasis after 4 weeks of use. As other pharmacologically active formulations to treat mild-to-moderate scalp psoriasis, including those with corticosteroids, are not recommended for continuous use, non-medicated shampoos could help during those periods when patients are not using medicated treatments.


  1. Massiot P, Pinto PC, Leclerc-Mercier S, et al. Clinical benefit and tolerance profile of a keratolytic and hydrating shampoo in subjects with mild to moderate psoriasis. Results from a double-blind, randomized, vehicle-controlled study. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2023;22:2050-2053. doi:10.1111/jocd.15693
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