What Is Scalp Psoriasis
Scalp psoriasis shows up as itchy, scaly patches on the scalp that may bleed if you try to remove them.
About half of people who have psoriasis have it on their scalp.
At the onset, scalp psoriasis often is confused with seborrheic dermatitis . Dandruff is a flaky, itchy scalp without signs of inflammation .
Scalp psoriasis can spread beyond the hairline and affect the forehead, back of the neck, and areas around the ears.
Often psoriasis in kids is first found on the scalp.
Additional reporting by George Vernadakis
Dry Cracked Skin: Irritation That Can Lead To Infection
Dry, cracked skin is a psoriasis symptom. However, dry air can also cause your skin to become dry and itchy. When the skin is dry and irritated , it’s more likely to get infected. Infection may cause your skin to become red and swollen. If you have any skin rashes that keep coming back or won’t go away, see your doctor. Most cases of psoriasis can be diagnosed with a physical examination but because psoriasis can look like many other skin conditions, a skin biopsy may have to be done to definitively diagnose it.
What Are The Symptoms
Scalp psoriasis causes redness and scaliness, which may also involve the hairline, the forehead, behind the ears and the back of the neck. It can range from very mild with slight fine scaling to very severe, crusted thick scaling covering the entire scalp. Hair loss during the flare-up can occur in some cases, but the hair will normally grow back. Psoriasis can be itchy, make the scalp feel tight and occasionally cause soreness, especially if there are cracks in the skin.
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How Can Parents Help
For some children, psoriasis is just a minor inconvenience. For others, it is a difficult medical condition.
To manage symptoms and make outbreaks less likely, your child should:
- Wash hands well and often and stay away from people who are sick to prevent infections.
- Manage stress through exercise, yoga, or meditation.
- Not smoke or drink alcohol.
- Keep a healthy weight. People who are overweight tend to have more severe psoriasis symptoms.
Kids and teens with psoriasis may feel uncomfortable with the way their skin looks. Help your child understand that psoriasis is common and treatments can help.
Whether your child’s psoriasis is mild or severe, learn about the condition together. Offer to help find a therapist or join a support group if that might help. Talk to your doctor or check websites like:
How Can You Ease Your Symptoms
Dr. Fernandez recommends using a moisturizing cream or ointment if you have either eczema or psoriasis. Keeping your skin moist is helpful because youre more likely to itch if your skin is dry.
Your skin can also benefit from these general health tips:
- Drink alcohol only in moderation.
- Eat a healthy diet.
- Drink more water.
- Get plenty of exercise.
There is no cure for psoriasis and multiple types of eczema, including atopic dermatitis. But you can help limit the symptoms by getting proper treatment and taking good care of your skin, Dr. Fernandez says.
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Possible Causes For Psoriasis Remission
The goal of psoriasis treatment is to reduce the symptoms and hopefully end the flare. If treatments are successful, psoriasis may go into remission.
Even without treatment, psoriasis may disappear. Spontaneous remission, or remission that occurs without treatment, is also possible. In that case, its likely your immune system turned off its attack on your body. This allows the symptoms to fade.
This doesnt mean that you wont ever have another flare. Watch for symptoms of psoriasis so that you can begin treating them if they reappear.
What Is Pustular Psoriasis
This uncommon form of psoriasis most often affects adults.
Pustular psoriasis is characterized by pus-filled bumps surrounded by inflamed and reddened or otherwise discolored skin. These blisters contain white blood cells and are not infectious or contagious.
The bumps may cause:
The pustules can appear on any part of the body but most often show up on the hands or feet.
When the bumps dry out, they can leave behind brown dots or scales on the skin.
Some triggers may increase your risk of developing this form of psoriasis. These include:
- Systemic steroid medication
- Fast heart rate
Do I Have The Signs Of Psoriatic Arthritis
Symptoms of PsA include stiffness, swelling, and pain in the joints that can come and go.
85% of those who get psoriatic arthritis have skin psoriasis first. Then years, even decades, later, up pops PsA.
15% of people develop psoriatic arthritis first and the skin disease afterward.
If you experience joint symptoms, make sure you tell your M.D. about your skin psoriasis, as this will help him or her make a diagnosis. Although some biologics and oral medications for psoriasis can alleviate psoriatic arthritis symptoms, its best to see a doctor who specializes in arthritis, called a rheumatologist, to get the best care and results.
Diet And Psoriasis: What’s The Connection
Can your diet help keep psoriasis under control? Maybe. An observational study published online July 25, 2018, by JAMA Dermatology found that people with psoriasis who followed a Mediterranean diet an eating pattern rich in fruits and vegetables, legumes, whole grains, fish, fruit, nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil experienced fewer severe flare-ups. This was only an association and more research is needed, but experts believe the Mediterranean diet contains many foods that have an anti-inflammatory effect in the body and may offer extra protection against psoriasis triggers.
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Intimacy Can Still Be Possible
If you are feeling anxious about sexual activity because of psoriasis, talk to your partner and educate them about psoriasis. Let them know that psoriasis isnt contagious and help to put them at ease. It is always a good idea to discuss psoriasis before you are intimate, so it is not a surprise.
To reduce friction and pain during sexual activity, use lubricants during sex. Choose products labeled cooling over warming lubricants. Warming lubricants often contain ingredients that inflame sensitive skin and might trigger psoriasis flares.
You can also make your own lubricant using olive oil, aloe vera, or coconut oil. However, oil-based lubricants should not be used with latex condoms, as they can degrade the latex and lead to condom failure.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommends the following ways to reduce irritation with sexual intercourse.
- Postpone sex when the skin around the genitals is raw or inflamed.
- Before sex, gently cleanse intimate areas using mild, fragrance-free cleansers.
- During sex, use lubricated condoms to reduce irritation in intimate areas affected by psoriasis.
- After sex, gently wash and dry intimate areas to reduce irritation.
- Reapply topical medications after sexual intercourse.
Following your treatment plan and taking your medications as prescribed can help to improve psoriasis symptoms regardless of where they are located on the body.
Medical Treatment Topical Agents
The first line of treatment for psoriasis includes topical medications applied to your skin. The main topical treatments are corticosteroids , vitamin D-3 derivatives, coal tar, anthralin, and retinoids. These drugs may lose potency over time, so often they are rotated or combined. Ask your doctor before combining medications, as some drugs should not be combined.
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What Type Of Psoriasis Treatment Will I Need
Several treatment options can relieve psoriasis. Creams or ointments may be enough to improve the rash in small areas of skin. If the rash affects larger areas, or you also have joint pain, you may need other treatments. Joint pain may be a sign that you have arthritis.
Your provider will decide on a treatment plan based on:
- Severity of the rash.
- Vitamin A or retinoid creams.
Signs And Symptoms Of Ringworm
The specific symptoms of ringworm depend on the location of the infection. They typically include:
- Itchy skin
- Red, scaly, or cracked skin
- A ring-shaped rash
- Hair loss
Symptoms of ringworm can be different depending on the specific part of the body thats affected:
- Tinea pedis, or athletes foot Skin may peel or become swollen, red, and itchy between the toes . The soles and heels of the feet may also be affected. In severe cases, blistering of the feet can occur.
- Tinea cruris, or jock itch Itchy, scaly red spots usually appear on the inner thighs.
- Tinea barbae Scaly, itchy red spots may be visible on the cheeks, chin, and upper neck. The spots may become crusty or fill up with pus, and hair loss may occur.
- Tinea manuum Palms may have dry skin with deep cracks, and ring-shaped patches may appear on the back of the hand.
- Tinea capitis Typically looks like a scaly, red, circular bald spot on the scalp that is also itchy, and it can grow in size. Ringworm on the scalp is more common in children than adults.
- Onychomycosis Nails become thick and abnormal in shape and color, and one or several nails may be affected. Onychomycosis often occurs in people who have athletes foot for a prolonged period.
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What Causes Guttate Psoriasis
Very often, guttate psoriasis comes on suddenly. Strep throat is a common trigger, says Sugarman.
So-called environmental factors seem to play a more important role in guttate psoriasis than in other types of psoriasis, he adds.
- An upper respiratory infection bacterial or viral
- An injury to the skin such as an insect bite, burn, or cut
- Medications, such as beta-blockers, which are used to treat heart conditions, and drugs that treat malaria
- Excessive alcohol consumption
These triggers can cause guttate psoriasis in people who may have a family history or other risk factors for the disease.
Shurlow does know that when shes under stress, her guttate psoriasis symptoms tend to be worse. Also, two or three days before coming down with a cold or other illness, she would notice more spots. I find it kind of strange, she says. It was like a warning sign that I was going to get sick.
What Does Psoriasis Look Like
Psoriasis usually appears as red or pink plaques of raised, thick, scaly skin. However, it can also appear as small, flat bumps or large, thick plaques. It most commonly affects the skin on the elbows, knees, and scalp, though it can appear anywhere on the body. The following slides will review some of the different types of psoriasis.
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Can Diet Affect My Psoriasis
A healthy diet is important for wellbeing and can reduce your risk of many long-term illnesses. However, there is no clear link between what you eat and the severity of psoriasis symptoms.
- The British Nutrition Foundation suggests eating at least 300g of oily fish per week for general health .
- Aim to eat more green leafy vegetables, nuts, seeds and wholegrain cereals, which also contain important essential fatty acids.
- Cut back on saturated fats and vegetable oils and use more olive oil and rapeseed oil products.
- Eat fresh, homemade foods rather than pre-packaged convenience food.
- Excessive amounts of alcohol can make psoriasis worse and can also interfere with certain drug medications, for example methotrexate.
Psoriasis Symptoms You Should Never Ignore
Psoriasis is known for symptoms you see on your skin, but this condition runs deeper than that. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the immune system starts attacking healthy cells usually skin cells instead of targeting foreign bodies like bacteria and viruses.
This process can cause skin cells to turn over much more quickly than usual , which creates psoriasiss telltale scaly patches.
In most people with psoriasis, the disease goes through cycles, flaring for a few weeks or months, then subsiding for a time. It may also go into remission.
Psoriasis symptoms can vary from person to person and depend on the kind of psoriasis you have. Some people may have a few patches near their scalp or elbow others can have patches that cover much of their body.
One key thing to know about psoriasis is that its not contagious. You cant catch it by touching someone elses skin plaques.
Heres a look at the most common symptoms of psoriasis to be aware of.
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Shingles: A Rash And Severe Pain That Lingers
Shingles is another viral infection that shares some symptoms with psoriasis. Like psoriasis, shingles can make your skin burn and itch and produces a red, blistered skin rash. Shingles is caused by the same virus that first brings on chickenpox. The virus stays in your body and can come back years later to cause shingles, especially during times of stress or infection. The skin rash of shingles follows the course of a single nerve, usually on the trunk. In some cases, severe pain lasts long after the burning, itchy rash disappears. Shingles is more common in people over age 50.
How Common Is Scalp Psoriasis
It is common and approximately half of all people with psoriasis also have it on their scalp. The reason it deserves special mention is that it can be more difficult to treat and usually requires specifically formulated treatments.
Psoriasis on the scalp forms in the same way as on other parts of the body but the hair traps the scale and so it does not rub away as it would, for instance, on the elbow. The result is that the scale can quickly build up, causing a thicker plaque which becomes more difficult to treat . This difficulty is compounded by the hair, which acts as a physical barrier obstructing the easy application of creams and ointments to the affected skin. Children can get scalp psoriasis too. Treatments will be much the same as those used for adults. On rare occasions, scalp psoriasis has been known to disappear spontaneously, but it can remain on the scalp for lengthy periods of time too.
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How Is Psoriasis Treated
While there is currently no cure for psoriasis, there are treatments that keep symptoms under control so that you can perform daily activities and sleep better. Your treatment may include:
- Medications you put on your skinsuch as creams, ointments, lotions, foams, or solutionsor others that are injected or taken by mouth.
- where your doctor shines an ultraviolet light on your skin in their office.
What Are The Symptoms Of Psoriasis
Symptoms of psoriasis can be different for each person, but some common ones are:
- Patches of thick, red skin with silvery-white scales that itch or burn.
- Dry, cracked skin that itches or bleeds.
- Thick, ridged, pitted nails.
The symptoms of psoriasis tend to come and go. You may find that there are times when your symptoms get worse, called flares, followed by times when you feel better .
Some patients have a related condition called psoriatic arthritis, in which you have stiff, swollen, painful joints. If you have symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, be sure to tell your doctor as soon as you can.
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Who Gets Psoriasis That Affect The Joints
Years after developing psoriasis on their skin, some people get a type of arthritis called psoriatic arthritis, which affects the joints. Its also possible to develop psoriatic arthritis before getting psoriasis on your skin.
Its not possible to predict who will get psoriatic arthritis. For this reason, its important for people who have psoriasis to pay attention to their joints.
Without treatment, psoriatic arthritis can worsen and damage joints. This damage is irreversible and can cause a lifelong disability. Treatment can prevent psoriatic arthritis from worsening.
Early warning signs of psoriatic arthritis include:
A swollen and tender joint, especially within a finger or toe
Swelling on the back of your leg, just above your heel
Stiffness in the morning that fades during the day
How Is Psoriasis Diagnosed
Your primary care doctor may refer you to a dermatologist for a diagnosis of psoriasis. Theyll likely ask if you have a family history of the disease and ask about different triggers that may have set off your symptoms.
From there, theyll perform a physical examination that includes a complete skin exam. Theyll look at your skin for signs of psoriasis. In some cases, you may need to undergo a procedure called a skin biopsy.
Your doctor will use general anesthetic and obtain a small sample of your skin to study under a microscope. If the sample exhibits characteristics of psoriasis histologically, this is often enough information to make the diagnosis.
There are a number of skin conditions that share characteristics with psoriasis. Knowing their symptoms, causes, and other characteristics may help you identify your own skin issues.
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Psoriasis Cannot Be Cured
Psoriasis is a chronic recurring disease, which means it cannot be cured. Although psoriasis cannot be cured, there are a number of treatments that can help alleviate the symptoms. Treatments range from lotions to light therapy and depend on the type of psoriasis you have and how widespread the disease is.