What Is 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 your ears.
Psoriasis is a skin condition that can develop on the scalp. Raised scaly patches and flaky skin that looks a bit like dandruff appear on the head. Unlike with normal dandruff, however, the scalp will appear to have a silvery sheen and dry scales.
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 that’s 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.
Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis
If scalp psoriasis is mild, the only symptom may be small scaly patches. But some people develop severe psoriasis, and symptoms may include itching, flaking, and red bumps on the scalp. Some people may even feel a burning sensation on their scalp. Scalp psoriasis may spread beyond the scalp to the ears, neck, and forehead.
Hair loss does not stem not from the condition itself. Instead, it tends to occur as a result of picking at the dry patches or from vigorous scratching. If a person scratches excessively, bleeding and infection may result.
Other skin conditions can cause similar symptoms. For example, seborrheic dermatitis causes a patchy, red rash, and this can develop on the scalp.
Ringworm can also cause a crusty, red rash on the skin and scalp. The rash from ringworm tends to form in the shape of a ring or a circle.
Causes And Risk Factors of Scalp Psoriasis
It is generally accepted that scalp psoriasis, like all psoriasis, is related to genetic defects that affect certain parts of the immune system. There are undoubtedly environmental risk factors that trigger its initial development in genetically predisposed individuals. The notion that “emotional stress” plays a causal role or at least exacerbates psoriasis has been difficult to prove. There is no question, however, that psoriasis of the scalp can be an extremely stressful experience.
In some cases, certain medications may trigger scalp psoriasis. For example, Indomethacin, which is used to treat arthritis, may give rise to the symptoms of psoriasis in some users. Certain heart medications, such as Quinidine, can also cause symptoms to flare.
Medical Treatment for Scalp Psoriasis
Topical treatments are usually suggested before systemic medications. Topical treatments are applied to a specific area of the scalp. They may include medicated shampoo or medications that contain coal tar or salicylic acid.
Salicylic acid works by promoting the shedding of the outer layer of the skin. It also softens the scales that develop with scalp psoriasis. The problem with shampoo and topical ointment that contains salicylic acid is it can be irritating to the skin and weaken the hair, which may lead to breakage.
Systemic medication is another option. It may be used if topical treatment is not effective. Systemic medication refers to a drug that works throughout the body, instead of just in a localized area. Systemic medication for scalp psoriasis is taken orally.
Light therapy may be recommended to treat scalp psoriasis. Light therapy involves exposing the scalp to ultraviolet light on a regular basis using a special lamp that emits UVB light.
The therapy is done under medication supervision to avoid burns or over exposure.
People with psoriasis should not use tanning beds because they emit significant amounts of UVA light, which can be dangerous.
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