For naturally curly girls suffering from conditions like psoriasis, eczema, and seborrheic dermatitis, finding effective treatments can be tricky. Medicated shampoos that contain coal tar, salicylic acid, and pyrithione zinc are affordable, over-the-counter solutions that can help lift flakes, and soothe irritation. On the up side, they are affective. According to Dr. Susan Stuart, board-certified Dermatologist, "some of the best over the counter shampoos contain coal tar as in ingredient in concentrations of 0.5 - 5.0%. It has been used as a safe remedy for decades." Dr. Stuart also notes that, "a scale softener that contains salicylic acid can soften the thick, stubborn patches of psoriasis" - which will help ingredients designed to help penetrate better.

On the downside, many medicated shampoos can leave your curls going from bouncy to brillo pad in 2 seconds flat. They're harsh, tend to have multiple sulfates, less than stellar inactive ingredient lists, and very few natural oils and extracts (if any). So what's a flaky-scalped curly to do? Here are some tips for getting the most out of your medicated shampoo without ruining your curls:

  1. Coat hair (not scalp) in conditioner or oil (or both mixed together) first. If you pre-poo with conditioner, just up the ante and absolutely lay it on thick! That way, when it's shampoo time, you won't have any major stripping and dryness.
  2. Detangle hair well prior to using shampoo. Do not, by any means apply medicated shampoo to your hair before detangling it. I don't care what stage you detangle at in your regimen, when using medicated shampoo, your hair MUST be detangled as much as possible prior to. Medicated shampoos aren't concerned with slip, and as a result, your hair will tangle and mat like nothing you've ever seen - unless you detangle first. Bonus: if you coat your hair with a super slippy conditioner, you can get a 3 for 1 deal: coated hair, a pre-poo, and detangle!
  3. Oil scalp generously prior to washing, but after you have already wet your hair and scalp. "A common way to soften and loosen scalp scales is to apply oils, lotions, creams, or ointments to the damp scalp", says Dr. Stuart.
  4. Dilute shampoo in an applicator bottle, and apply to scalp, not scalp and hair. If you can help it, an applicator bottle with slanted nozzle will help target the scalp directly, minimizing the amount of drying shampoo that ends upon your strands.
  5. Always deep condition. Whenever you use a shampoo, and especially when using a medicated shampoo, a good deep conditioning is always in order. To help restore the moisture balance in hair, opt for deep conditioners or intensive masks that are rich in softening ingredients like fatty alcohols (cetyl, stearyl, cetaryl), butters, and oils, and cationic surfactants that help correct the charge of your hair (like behentrimonium methosulfate).

Hopefully, by following these steps, you'll be able to walk away from the shower with a clearer scalp and beautiful hair!

NEXT: AVOIDING SCALP IRRITATION