While psoriasis affects up to 3% of the population, of this percentage of psoriasis sufferers, up to 50% of them suffer from scalp psoriasis making it one of the most common and persistent types of psoriasis. It can also be one of the most difficult to treat while at the same time robbing a sufferer of their self esteem because the signs and symptoms are sometimes clearly visible to other people.
Signs and Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis
Although the exact cause of psoriasis remains a mystery, many researchers believe that it mainly comes about through an abnormality in the immune system that causes skin to regenerate at an accelerated rate leading to skin cells piling on top of each other is evidenced by raised, red, sometimes itchy, thick areas of the skin covered with silvery/white scales. It can also affect other areas such as the nails and joints (psoriatic arthritis). Why this abnormality in the immune system occurs is unknown. Genes or the environment may be to blame but no one knows for certain.
Scalp psoriasis is evidenced by silvery/white scales on the scalp that may be thick and form thick crusts when the scales are packed tightly together which can be very itchy. Attempting to treat these scales like dandruff by picking and scratching can only make the condition worse.
The severity of this type of psoriasis can vary between mild cases that are usually not very noticeable to very severe cases when the scales can drop onto the shoulders and collar and look like a bad case of dandruff which can be quite embarrassing for the sufferer in addition to being very itchy.
A small area of the scalp can be affected or it can cover the entire scalp in severe cases of scalp psoriasis. Flare-ups usually appear behind the ears and along the hairline and may then spread over greater areas of the scalp. This condition can also affect the ear canal when enough scales spread to this area and can impact hearing.
Severe cases of scalp psoriasis may affect the hair roots leading to hair loss but most cases do not affect the hair roots. If a sufferer experiences hair loss associated with scalp psoriasis, the hair can grow back once the condition is effectively managed.
Treatment For Scalp Psoriasis
Since there isn’t a known cure for psoriasis, treating scalp psoriasis to help minimize flare-ups can be quite a challenge as what can work for one sufferer may not necessarily work for another and will usually involve a lot of trial and error. Patience and perseverance is required in order to find the treatment therapy that will work for you.
Some of the conventional treatment therapies for scalp psoriasis include the use of medicated shampoos that contain salicylic acid, tar, selenium sulfide, steroids, etc. Various scalp solutions containing steroids can also be prescribed in the form of gels, foams, lotions, etc. Other medications that may be prescribed include Anthralin, Topical Vitamin D analogues, etc, to help to reduce cell turnover leading to the silvery/white scales. There are also many effective natural remedies but most of these will involve a lot of trial and error.