Scalp Psoriasis: Symptoms and Treatments

What is Psoriasis and what can I do to treat or manage it? How is scalp psoriasis different from typical psoriasis? Should I be concerned that I’ve developed psoriasis?

These are some of the most common questions about psoriasis and scalp psoriasis. Any new condition, or old condition flaring up, can be alarming and will raise questions and worries.

First and foremost you should understand that psoriasis is a common skin disorder that can affect single areas, such as the scalp, or several different areas of the body. Scalp psoriasis can affect a small portion of the scalp, or large patchy areas. You may also find that the areas affected by scalp psoriasis can spread, including the forehead, neck, or even behind the ears. Unfortunately the precise cause of scalp psoriasis is unknown.  Most doctors believe that it is a faulty auto immune response that causes a rapid buildup of skin growth that results in the flaky patches. In many cases scalp psoriasis is considered mild, and may even be almost unnoticeable. However, severe cases of psoriasis are also common, with thick, flaky, crusted patches that may become sores.  Severe psoriasis may also be accompanied by intense itching that can interrupt or disrupt everyday tasks and sleep.

What Are Some Common Symptoms?

The typical symptoms that you will see with scalp psoriasis are scaly, red patches of skin.  Mild cases will generally be very slight and may be difficult to spot or differentiate between psoriasis and dandruff. For more severe cases you will expect to see silvery scaling, instances of dry scalp, prolonged and intense itching, burning sensations, and potential hair loss.  The hair loss is not due to the psoriasis, the condition doesn’t cause hair loss, however intense scratching or extreme treatments can lead to hair loss. Less scratching or more moderate treatment should see hair regrowth after the psoriasis symptoms clear. Unfortunately there is no cure for scalp psoriasis, or any type of psoriasis. However, symptoms can be effectively managed with proper treatment options.

Your Treatment Options:

Generally the first form of treatment or symptom management that you should try for scalp psoriasis is a topical treatment.  Topical treatments are those that you apply directly to the scalp, typically some form of medicated shampoo, or creams, oils, or lotions. There are also soap treatments that may result in symptom relief.  Most of the over the counter medications for scalp psoriasis will contain either salicylic acid or coal tar, both ingredients that have been approved by the FDA for psoriasis treatment. There are stronger medications that may help, but these will require prescriptions to obtain. If over the counter treatments don’t seem to work, consulting your doctor or dermatologist is recommended so you can have access to the treatments and relief you need.

Aside from topical treatments there are also medications and injections that your doctor or dermatologist might recommend. Injected treatment options are typically steroids injected directly into affected areas in an effort to provide symptom relief. Another form of treatment you may consider is phototherapy.  Phototherapy involves application of light sources, such as lasers (There are also non-laser phototherapy treatments.) Your doctor may decide that phototherapy is the proper treatment choice for your scalp psoriasis. If your doctor decides against phototherapy, topical treatments, and injections, the are various medications that can be prescribed that have some efficacy combating scalp psoriasis symptoms.

Where Can I Learn More?

Scalp psoriasis is a wide and varied condition, with each individual’s scalp psoriasis manifesting in different ways and reacting to treatments in different manners. A treatment that works for one patient may have little to no effect for another. Because we know that we can’t provide a comprehensive overview of Scalp Psoriasis, we strive to ensure you have the information you need. If you want to learn more about scalp psoriasis or psoriasis in general you can visit the following sites, they all provide excellent information on psoriasis.

As with any medical condition, you should seek out your doctors advice before pursuing extreme treatment options. While scalp psoriasis is generally a mild condition, any medical condition can become more severe with improper treatment or general neglect.