Articles On Scalp Psoriasis
Scalp psoriasis is a common skin disorder that makes raised, reddish, often scaly patches. It can pop up as a single patch or several, and can even affect your entire scalp. It can also spread to your forehead, the back of your neck, or behind and inside your ears.
You canât catch scalp psoriasis from another person. As with other types, we donât know what causes it. Doctors believe it comes from something wrong with your immune system that causes skin cells to grow too quickly and build up into patches. You may be more likely to get scalp psoriasis if it runs in your family.
About half of the estimated 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis – which can affect any skin surface – have it on their scalp. Sometimes the scalp is the only place they have it, but thatâs uncommon.
Scalp psoriasis can be mild and almost unnoticeable. But it can also be severe, last a long time, and cause thick, crusted sores. Intense itching can affect your sleep and everyday life, and scratching a lot can lead to skin infections and hair loss.
Managing Scalp Psoriasis Guidance
The ISFs Health Promotion Team has found that scalp psoriasis is one of the most common raised concerns and developed the Managing Scalp Psoriasis leaflet, with guidance on how to manage and treat, what can be a very frustrating part, of living with the condition.
The ISF scalp psoriasis leaflet includes a step-by-step treatment section which includes some really useful techniques you can use at home to treat your scalp psoriasis with over-the-counter and prescribed treatments.
Do Use Shampoos That Contain Tar Or Salicylic Acid
Tar has proven effective as a treatment for psoriasis for decades, but applying it can be messy, time consuming and changes can take time. Salicylic acid can also be useful, but can result in temporary hair loss if left on the scalp for too long. Additionally, over the counter scale softeners can be placed on the scalp to help loosen scales. The downside is that while these products can help with psoriasis, they often dry out the hair.
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What To Do For Infection
If your scalp psoriasis becomes infected, you may have crusting, redness, warmth, tenderness, and sometimes swelling of your lymph nodes. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic treatment for this problem.
National Psoriasis Foundation: “Specific locations: scalp,” “Scalp Psoriasis,” and “Over-the-Counter Topicals,” “Traditional systemic medications,” “Moderate to severe psoriasis: Biologic drugs.”
Handa, S. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2010.
Skin Therapy Letter: “Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis with Emphasis on Calcipotriol Plus Betamethasone Dipropionate Gel .”
The Nitty Gritty Of Scalp Psoriasis
Its easy to think that patches of dry, itchy skin on the scalp are caused by some kind of lack of hygiene. But cleanliness has nothing to do with scalp psoriasis.
Psoriasis is actually a chronic inflammatory disorder caused when the immune system doesnt work quite right. Doctors arent sure why, but some people have an immune system that churns out too many skin cells. Since the body cant get rid of these excess cells fast enough, they pile on top of each other, forming flakey, silvery scales.
Psoriasis can pop up anywhere on the body, but when it shows up on your head, dry skin patches can appear under the hair, on the back of the neck, and behind the ears.
Its easy to confuse psoriasis with dandruff, and sometimes dermatologists arent so sure themselves. When it looks like a blend between psoriasis and dandruff, they call it sebopsoriasis a cute couples name for seborrheic dermatitis, aka dandruff, and psoriasis.
However, some clues that your scalp irritation might be psoriasis include more defined or patterned pink scale-like plaques.
Dandruff looks more like generalized greasy flaking with pink patches. Over-the-counter shampoos can typically knock out dandruff, but scalp psoriasis is a little harder to treat.
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Topical Treatments For Moderate To Severe Scalp Psoriasis
If your symptoms are more severe and the plaques on your scalp are thick, you will probably need prescription treatment. Your GP can recommend a topical treatment containing corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, or dithranol. Prescription products containing these ingredients include dermovate scalp application, locoid scalp lotion, dithrocream and dovobet gel.
You should use these treatment exactly as directed by your doctor. Make sure that you apply the medicated product directly to the scalp, and not to the hair.
In addition to these medicated treatments, you might also try using emollients on your scalp, as these can help to soften thick plaques. An emollient is a rich moisturiser which can prevent itching and inflammation, and create a protective barrier on the skin, sealing in moisture. One to consider using is grahams natural psoriasis cream, which is made from manuka honey and calendula. Formulated with natural ingredients, this moisturising treatment offers effective relief will helping to normalise the skins structure.
If you are going to use an emollient on your scalp, you should try the following method:
Make Time For Afternoon Tea
Tea tree oil isnt messing around. This strong antimicrobial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory oil can treat scalp psoriasis when paired with a carrier oil .
Dont go nuts with this one. Start with just a drop or two and see how your skin reacts. Also, if youre pregnant, breastfeeding, have linear IgA disease, or are taking the antibiotic vancomycin, then this oil is not for you.
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Coconut Oil Topical Lotion
Some members like to blend their coconut oil with other ingredients to create a topical lotion, such as mixing a bit of Vaseline and coconut oil for a lotion that is very soothing.
One member shared that they used organic coconut oil with a tea tree oil mixture to help their itching and redness. Their recipe? A teaspoon of coconut oil and a few drops of tea tree oil. Mix, rub over the skin, and leave on for about 30 minutes works for me.
Another members recipe also contained tea tree oil: Ive had some success with Aveeno lotion mixed with about a teaspoon of kukui nut oil, a tablespoon of coconut oil, and three to four drops of tea tree oil. I usually put the oils into the entire lotion container and shake it all up. As this member shared, It helped me with plaque psoriasis. After it cleared up, I continue to use it as a moisturizer.
How To Treat Scalp Psoriasis At Home
Its important to note that home remedies can help ease symptoms but theyre not proven cures. The following home treatments are generally safe and may help you reduce the symptoms of mild to moderate scalp psoriasis. Those with more aggressive forms of the condition should consult a doctor before starting home treatment.
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Is Psoriasis The Same As Eczema
Psoriasis and eczema are two different skin conditions. They differ in where the disease appears on the body, how much it itches and how it looks. Eczema tends to appear more often behind the knees and inside the elbows. Eczema also causes more intense itching than psoriasis. Many people, especially children, can get both eczema and psoriasis.
How To Properly Remove Psoriasis Scales
The scalp is a tricky place to treat psoriasis, since many people want to balance maintaining their hair health with treatment.
Its important to be patient and gentle throughout this process to ensure youre protecting your hair and healthy skin.
The following steps will help to remove scales and aid in the overall treatment of your psoriasis. But you should see a doctor before getting started.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Scalp Psoriasis
Scalp psoriasis affects almost half of people with psoriasis. Similar to psoriasis on the body, scalp psoriasis looks like red scaly plaques that can be flaky and itchy. Unlike dandruff that looks greasy and yellow, the scale of psoriasis is silvery and dry. If you pick at it, you might see bleeding. The plaques can extend beyond the hairline. Some people notice hair loss or thinning where the psoriasis is.
About 20% to 30% of people with psoriasis get psoriatic arthritis. It causes pain, soreness, and stiffness in the joints as well as where tendons and ligaments connect to bones. People who have scalp psoriasis have almost 4 times the risk of getting arthritis as those who dont.
Psoriasis is also linked to cardiovascular disease and metabolic syndrome. This includes conditions like:
It Can Affect The Scalp Hairline Forehead Back Of The Neck And Skin Around The Ears
Did You Know?
Symptoms may include fine scaling that looks like dandruff, or appear as thick, crusted plaques that cover the entire scalp. Other skin disorders, such as seborrheic dermatitis, may resemble psoriasis. However, scalp psoriasis appears powdery with a silvery sheen, while seborrheic dermatitis looks yellowish and greasy. Scalp psoriasis is common in patients of color, but treating it can be particularly tough due to the hair type.
Scalp psoriasis may be an indicator of psoriatic arthritis , as many people have both. If you think you have scalp psoriasis, see a dermatologist to diagnose scalp psoriasis and visit a rheumatologist to screen for psoriatic arthritis.
No matter how severe your scalp psoriasis is, there are options for treating the itching and flakes â from over-the-counter shampoos and topicals to light therapy, oral treatments and biologics.
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Unwind With Lavender And Calendula
Not many antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory agents are known for helping you relax, but thats the magic of lavender essential oil. You can also add calendula oil to the mix , along with a carrier oil, and apply directly to the scalp.
Just remember to only add a few drops of essential oil to each tablespoon of carrier oil you use, and do a patch test first to make sure you dont have a sensitivity to those particular oils.
Some potential carrier oils:
- avocado oil
- jojoba oil
Sadly the science here is still a little lacking, so make sure to do your homework and chat with a derm before oiling up.
Another option that doesnt involve topical application: Since stress makes psoriasis flares worse, you can sit in a quiet room with dim lighting, some lavender oil in the diffuser, and just chilllll. This may not affect your psoriasis in the short term, but it could help the flare go away faster. And, bonus points for caring for your mental health.
Are There Complications Of Psoriasis
In some people, psoriasis causes more than itchiness and red skin. It can lead to swollen joints and arthritis. If you have psoriasis, you may be at higher risk of:
- Use medicated shampoo for scales on your scalp.
Other steps you should take to stay as healthy as possible:
- Talk to your healthcare provider about lowering your risk for related conditions, such as heart disease, depression and diabetes.
- Lower your stress with meditation, exercise or seeing a mental health professional.
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Ways To Relieve Itchy Psoriasis
Many people say that the itch is the most bothersome of all their psoriasis symptoms. To relieve the itch, dermatologists give their patients the following eight tips:
Treat your psoriasis. The best way to get rid of the itch is to treat psoriasis
Remove scale. Less scale often means less itchiness. Removing scale can also improve the results you get from itch-relieving products.To remove scale, you want to use medicine like salicylic acid. This helps soften the scale, so you can gently brush it away. Pulling scale off can worsen psoriasis.
Limit shower time. Limit showers to 5 minutes and baths to 15 minutes or less. Spending too much time in the water can dry your skin, which can worsen the itch.
Use moisturizer. Applying a moisturizing cream or ointment after every hand washing, bath, and shower helps to seal much-needed moisture into your skin. Moisturizer helps reduce the redness and the itch. It also helps your skin heal.
Try an itch-relieving product. You can buy many of these without a prescription. Once that contains menthol, or camphor tends to work best for itchy psoriasis.Some of these products can irritate your skin or make it drier. Using a moisturizer helps reduce the dryness.
Moisturize instead of scratch. Grab your moisturizer when you have the urge to scratch. Instead of scratching, gently apply moisturizer to the itchy skin.
Skip hot baths. Skip hot baths and showers. The heat can make you more itchy.
Moderate To Severe Psoriasis Treatments
Your doctor may prescribe steroids, lotions, solutions, sprays, or foams to treat moderate to severe scalp psoriasis. Some topical treatments are applied directly to the skin, then shampooed and rinsed out, including:
- Anthralin . Apply this cream once a day for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Calcipotriene . This is a prescription form of vitamin D. Apply it at night and cover your scalp with a shower cap. Leave it on overnight. Don’t get it in your eyes.
- Calcipotriene and betamethasone dipropionate . This is a combination of a type of vitamin D and a strong steroid in a suspension or ointment. You use it once a day. Don’t get it in your eyes.
- Tazarotene . This vitamin A treatment comes in a cream, foam, or gel form. If using it at night, put it on clean, dry skin, and let the medication dry before you go to sleep. Applying a moisturizer after the medication may help prevent drying.
Follow your doctor’s directions for all medications. Don’t use stronger steroids for more than a 2-week cycle without your doctor giving you the OK.
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Dont Use Harmful Chemicals
For years I used relaxers to straighten my hair, but eventually chemicals became too harsh for my scalp to bear. So I stopped using relaxers and honestly my scalp has improved tremendously. While you may not necessarily be using relaxers or perms, you might still be using chemicals that are too harsh on your scalp. Healthchild.org provides a list of product ingredients to avoid on your hair, here.
What Causes Psoriasis
The exact cause of psoriasis isn’t known. But experts do know that the body’s immune system, which fights germs and diseases, is involved. Overactive immune system cells make skin cells grow faster than the body can shed them, so they pile up as plaques on the skin.
Some genes have been linked to psoriasis. About 40% of people with psoriasis have a family member who has it.
Anyone can get psoriasis and it may begin at any age. It can’t spread from person to person.
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When To See A Doctor
If you suspect you have scalp psoriasis, you should schedule an appointment with a doctor. They may examine your scalp to rule out other conditions before sending you to a dermatologist for further evaluation and treatment.
If you dont already have a dermatologist, the Healthline FindCare tool can help you find a physician in your area.
What Are The Symptoms
Scalp psoriasis causes redness and scaliness, which may also involve the hairline, the forehead, behind the ears and the back of the neck. It can range from very mild with slight fine scaling to very severe, crusted thick scaling covering the entire scalp. Hair loss during the flare-up can occur in some cases, but the hair will normally grow back. Psoriasis can be itchy, make the scalp feel tight and occasionally cause soreness, especially if there are cracks in the skin.
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What Is Scalp Psoriasis
Psoriasis is a group of autoimmune conditions that affect the skin. Autoimmune conditions cause the immune system to target the wrong cells or overreact to harmless triggers.
In the case of psoriasis, the autoimmune activity causes skin cells to grow more quickly than usual, creating scales and lesions on the skin. The appearance of the lesions depends on the type of psoriasis.
The only type of psoriasis that affects the scalp, however, is plaque psoriasis.
The most common symptoms of scalp psoriasis include:
- Scales on the scalp: These may be light and fine or thick and crusty. The patches of scales might be small, or they could cover the entire scalp.
- Psoriasis plaques on other areas of the body: Scales may spread from the scalp, extending to the face or neck. They may also develop on distant parts of the body.
- Hair changes: In more severe cases, hair loss, changes in hair texture, or patchy hair can develop.
Scalp psoriasis is not a distinct type of psoriasis. Around half of all people who have psoriasis develop plaques on their scalp.
What Is Dandruff The Causes And Symptoms
Dandruff is a very common condition of the scalp that results in dry skin flakes, which end up caught in a persons hair or on their clothes. According to the American Academy of Dermatology , it generally doesnt require medical treatment, but it can be itchy and uncomfortable, as well as embarrassing to those having to deal with it. Here are the causes:
A yeast imbalance.Theres a type of yeast in all of our bodies called malassezia, part of our bodys normal microbiome, says Dr. Gohara. Dandruff, or seborrhea, is caused by an overgrowth of that.
An oily scalp. Dandruff can also be associated with increased oil production of the scalp, says Dr. Gohara, evidenced by greasy hair or an oily scalp.
A scalp thats overly dry. Dandruff can also be the result of a too-dry scalp, says Dr. Gohara. Also, flaking can be caused by using too many products in the hair, or not washing products out properly but this isnt the same thing as dandruff.
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