Is There a Connection?
With more than three million cases every year, psoriasis is a very common condition in which the skin cells build up to form scaly, itchy and dry patches all over the body. While there’s no cure and psoriasis can be considered a chronic illness, treatment may be able to help soothe symptoms. Scalp psoriasis is a type of psoriasis that affects about half of the estimated 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis, with some only having psoriasis on their scalp. Those who do have scalp psoriasis have many concerns– including hair loss.
Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis
Symptoms of scalp psoriasis include:
- Slight, fine scaling (in mild cases);
- Scaly, red and/or bumpy patches;
- Dry scalp;
- Burning or soreness;
- Flakes that appear to be dandruff;
- Silvery or white scales; and
- Hair loss.
Scalp psoriasis isn’t directly linked with hair loss, but scratching a lot or vigorously and picking at any scales or bumps can cause patients to lose their hair, though most likely not a permanent loss. Harsh treatments and stress of just having psoriasis can also lead to temporary hair loss. Fortunately, once the skin clears and the psoriasis is under control, the hair will usually grow back like normal.
Caring for Scalp Psoriasis
For many, a topical treatment prescribed by a dermatologist is better suited to clearing up scalp psoriasis, and psoriasis in general, than home remedies. While this doesn’t mean home remedies don’t work at all, it’s best to speak with a dermatologist before trying remedies of any kind.
Once an effective treatment is found, patients will usually see hair begin to grow again; however, before patients find an effective treatment, there are a few things they can try to relieve some of the itching.
There are scale-softening agents and oils that can be applied to psoriasis patches that make them easier to remove before application of any remedy. Exfoliating acids, such as salicylic acid or alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), work by weakening the bonds between skin cells which, in turn, causes the outer layer to shed. These exfoliating agents can soften and remove scales, though a dermatologist should be consulted before application.
Coal tar can also help patients to shed the outer layer of dead skin. Patients have been using this sticky, smelly substance for centuries to help reduce inflammation, reduce buildup and stop itching.
When applying treatments, section the hair. When the hair is in sections, part of the scalp is exposed and the scalp can be targeted directly.
The goal is to treat psoriasis, relieve the itch, and keep from tugging or being rough with the scalp to stop hair loss. When patients rub or scrub their scalps vigorously with their topicals or other remedies, it’s counterintuitive. Rubbing, scrubbing, scratching and picking tend to make scalp psoriasis worse.
Itching can be a real problem for those who suffer from scalp psoriasis. Dry scalp is the culprit and over-the-counter conditioners made specifically to soothe the itch can help keep dry scalp at bay.
Hot tools, like straighteners, curling irons and blow dryers, can dry out the scalp causing it to itch even more. If hot tools must be used, they should be set to the lowest setting possible, avoiding direct contact with the scalp.
Scalp psoriasis is treatable and should be treated with the help of a dermatologist. If left untreated, patients will experience symptoms and discomfort that could easily be avoided– as well as possible permanent hair loss. Once a treatment plan has been implemented, it’s likely patients will experience relief from psoriasis symptoms and hair regrowth.
When it comes to your skin, you only want the best.
That’s why you should choose Southern Dermatology. We offer the best products, with the best ingredients. Our experienced practitioners strive to provide the best and safest experience for all patients. Call Southern Dermatology today at 919-782-2152 to schedule a consult.