Psoriasis is an auto-immune disease which affects around 2% of people in the UK, with many of these particularly affected by scalp psoriasis. The condition occurs when skin cells grow too quickly in response to a faulty signal from the body’s immune system. The excess skin accumulates as red or purple patches, sometimes accompanied by silvery scales.
More than 50% of psoriasis sufferers get lesions on the scalp. The excess skin can flake off, causing dandruff and broken skin. There is currently no known cure, although treatments to reduce symptoms are available.
Scalp psoriasis usually manifests in hard, flaky plaques across the scalp and hairline. They can be extremely itchy, or you may barely feel them.
You may have scalp psoriasis if you notice any of these symptoms:
Psoriasis is more common in people with a family history of the condition. So if a close relative has psoriasis, you may be more likely to experience it yourself.
Other people experience psoriasis as a result of a faulty immune response. T-cells, which the body’s immune system uses to protect you from infection, can sometimes attack healthy cells by mistake. This causes the body to rapidly produce more skin cells, which manifest as the common psoriasis patches.
Scalp psoriasis is a chronic condition. That means if you’re predisposed to scalp psoriasis, either due to your genetics or an autoimmune condition, you may experience flare-ups for the rest of your life. Flare-ups usually occur if you’re exposed to one of your psoriasis triggers.
Knowing what your psoriasis triggers are can help you manage the condition. Common triggers include:
While scalp psoriasis can be irritating and sore, it is usually a benign condition. Most cases can be managed with medication, topical treatments, and lifestyle changes.
In severe cases, scalp psoriasis can lead to hair loss. If you’re worried this may be affecting you, speak to a dermatologist or trichologist to discuss potential treatment options.
Scalp psoriasis can also have a psychological effect on those affected by it. The visible signs of psoriasis (such as red patches and dandruff) can cause embarrassment and anxiety. In severe cases, this can lead to social isolation and depression. Mental health support is available to people with psoriasis.
With treatment, it can take more than 8 weeks for your skin to heal after a flare up of scalp psoriasis. Visit a dermatologist or trichologist to get the right treatment for your condition to improve the chances of fast healing and recovery.
There’s currently no cure for psoriasis, but most people can manage the symptoms and triggers to minimise the impact on their life.
Your psoriasis may not disappear forever, but there are things you can do to reduce outbreaks and manage pain or itchiness.
There are a number of treatment options to help you manage your scalp psoriasis. Consult with a dermatologist or trichologist to find out which is the best option for you.
The first port of call for most people with scalp psoriasis is topical treatments. This includes creams, ointments, and scale softeners that can reduce redness, flaking, and itchiness.
Doctors usually prescribe one or more of the following:
Black seed oil for hair is a natural remedy that has been shown to reduce symptoms of psoriasis in animal studies .
Phototherapy is another effective technique for treating psoriasis. This involves exposing the affected areas to artificial light to improve your symptoms. Sometimes this is prescribed in combination with topical or medical treatments.
Effective types of phototherapy include:
It’s important to note that there are certain side effects associated with phototherapy. This includes nausea, headaches, and burning. Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor before you start the therapy.
Your doctor may recommend oral or injected medications if your condition is severe or hasn’t responded to other types of treatment. Oral treatments include immunosuppressants, retinoids, and anti-inflammatories to reduce the symptoms of scalp psoriasis. Injections are usually drugs that target overactive immune system cells to prevent them from producing too many cells.
There are potentially serious side effects to many of these treatments, so make sure to discuss any risks with your doctor beforehand. This is especially important if you’re pregnant or planning to try for a baby soon.
Scalp psoriasis can be very distressing, and can take a toll on your mental health. If you’re feeling low as a result of your condition, there is support available to you.
Visiting a trichologist at an experienced hair loss clinic can help you manage your condition. A trichologist will understand the emotional impact of psoriasis, and can offer practical helpful advice as well as treatment.
If you’re worried about your scalp psoriasis and you want to speak to a hair and scalp specialist, book a consultation with a trichologist. They can fully diagnose your condition and discuss a plan to manage it with you.
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