In our latest blog, Psoriasis Treatments: What Can Cause it and Can you Prevent It, we talked about the multiple forms of psoriasis including plaque, guttate, inverse, pustular and erythrodermic atopic dermatitis and how they can affect the elbows, knees, scalp and genitals.
We are frequently asked about the connection between psoriasis and hair loss, especially by patients suffering from scalp psoriasis.
Scalp psoriasis is most commonly found when an individual has plaque psoriasis. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), 50 percent of people who have plaque psoriasis will have a flare-up on the scalp.
This type can extend further than the scalp, appearing on the forehead, back of the neck and behind the ears.
SYMPTOMS OF SCALP PSORIASIS
Scalp psoriasis can cover the entire scalp. Symptoms of scalp psoriasis are less noticeable for patients who have thick hair.
Symptoms, which can be intermittent, include:
- Reddish patches: These patches are sometimes barely noticeable, especially if a patient’s hair is thicker or the patches are not too severe.
- Dandruff flaking: Psoriasis can mimic dandruff; however, there is a key difference. In addition to being dry and flaky, psoriasis will cause the scalp to appear silver in color.
- Dry scalp, itching and bleeding: You may feel itchy because of the dryness scalp psoriasis can cause. Scratching will cause bleeding, and worsen the psoriasis patches by resulting in larger, thicker growth.
TREATMENTS FOR SCALP PSORIASIS | OVER THE COUNTER PRODUCTS & MEDICATIONS
There are many over the counter and medicated shampoos that can help relieve scalp psoriasis discomfort.
It’s important to remember that over the counter treatment options are not a one-size fits all solution. While these treatment options can relieve the itch, patients who have moderate to severe cases may need a prescription treatment.
Over the Counter
There are two main ingredients you should look for in over the counter treatment options.
- Salicylic acid can soften and remove scales that have formed. You can find this ingredient in creams, gels, lotions, shampoos and soaps.
- Wood or coal tar will slow skin cell growth and reduce inflammation, itching and scaling. You can find these ingredients in shampoos.
It’s important to remember that salicylic acid, wood and coal tar contain different amounts of concentrations.
If you have mild psoriasis, a high concentration may cause more skin irritation.
For any other over-the-counter treatments, you want to make sure that you’re using fragrance free products, applying the treatment before and after showering and using soaps that moisturize the skin.
For patients who prefer baths, you can use oil or epsom salts in the water. These can help remove scales. Soak in the bath for 15 minutes and apply moisturizer immediately after.
If you are seeing a dermatologist, they will develop a treatment plan specifically designed for you. Treatment could include medicine you apply directly to the scalp, shampoos, a scale softener, injections, light treatments or biologic drug prescriptions.
HOW TO MANAGE SCALP PSORIASIS
Scalp psoriasis may result in the urge to scratch your scalp. Don’t do this. Picking or scratching at your scalp can actually cause your psoriasis to flare up, bleed and result in hair loss.
- When removing scales, do this with care. Part of treating scalp psoriasis means the scales will have to be removed.
- Don’t stress. Stress can result in a flare up of your psoriasis. We understand this treatment can be frustrating, but try to reduce stress as much as possible.
- Pay attention to your hair care. When brushing your hair, be gentle. Limit the use of hot tools on your hair or wearing a tight hairstyle. Pulling on your hair can cause hair loss. Coloring and styling your hair may also cause your psoriasis to flare.
HOW TO STOP HAIR LOSS
Scalp psoriasis is not the sole cause of hair loss.
Symptoms of scalp psoriasis and behaviors, like stressing and scratching, can cause hair loss.
- Gently brush your hair.
- Remove scales gently.
- Have good nail care. Cutting your nails down can help prevent you from scratching.
- Get treatment.
- If you believe the treatment is too harsh or isn’t working, let your dermatologist know.
DERMATOLOGY CENTER FOR SKIN HEALTH | TREATING SCALP PSORIASIS & HAIR LOSS
Psoriasis can be a serious health issue that should not be ignored. If you have questions about psoriasis, our certified-dermatologists can answer those for you and help you find a treatment.