Treating Scalp Psoriasis

What is Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis is a skin disease that may cause itchy patches of thick, red skin with silvery scales. It can range from mild, with only light scaling to severe, with thick, crusted scales covering the whole scalp. The large flaky scales can be very uncomfortable and can itch quite painfully. Severe cases of scalp psoriasis can also lead to temporary hair loss which can be very distressing, but the good news is that the hair will grow back once the flare up calms down. The scalp is one of the most common affected sites in psoriatic patients as 79% of them have scalp involvement.

Scalp Psoriasis Treatment

Many treatment options can help control scalp psoriasis and its symptoms. Sometimes this type of psoriasis will clear on its own, other times it can remain on the scalp for long periods of time. Although it is not dangerous and life threatening, it can be persistent and difficult to treat.

The treatment of scalp psoriasis requires a different approach because it is more difficult to treat. Not that the disease is more stubborn, but the hair gets in the way of treatment. It can be challenging to apply topical creams to the scalp. Phototherapy treatment that involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light also doesn’t work very well because the hair blocks the rays.

While shaving the head would make it easier, many people feel uncomfortable doing so. Cutting hair short would also help, making the treatments easier to apply, but is again not appealing to everyone.

Treatment for mild scalp psoriasis consists of special medicated shampoos that were designed to clear the symptoms. Some of the more popular shampoo options include coal tar or salicylic acid, both of which are known for their exfoliating properties.

The shampoos work best if rubbed into the scalp well, and left in for 5 or 10 minutes and then reapplied. They are safe for daily use but may irritate if applied more than twice weekly. Soaking the scalp in warm (not hot) water can help loosen scales. Soaking with water makes scales easier to remove. The key of shampoo treatments is to loosen and remove scales, while providing as much moisture as possible.

A few things to keep in mind when using shampoo to treat scalp psoriasis: Be gentle when treating the scalp. Scratching the affected areas should be avoided, because breaking of the skin can make psoriasis worse. Be sure to use special medicated shampoos as directed. It is important to rub the shampoo into the scalp and not just the hair.

More severe cases of scalp psoriasis may require a stronger treatment, which can be achieved through topical applications that are left on the scalp or from administration of UVB light therapy.

Scalp psoriasis is a chronic condition and while it can’t be completely cured, it can be controlled with the proper treatment.