How To Naturally Manage Dry & Inflamed Scalp Psoriasis
Have you ever noticed scaly red patches on your scalp? If so, you may be among the 2 to 3% of Americans with psoriasis, an autoimmune disorder that presents itself on the skin, as well as in the joints. And if youve ever experienced this type of flare-up on the scalp, you know it can be quite the challenge to learn how to live with it, while not allowing it to control your every hair move. We consulted with experts to get the lowdown on scalp psoriasis and the natural remedies you can take to help manage your condition.
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How To Cure Scalp Psoriasis Permanently
Because scalp psoriasis is a chronic skin condition, there is no cure. For this reason, it can be tempting to delay seeing a doctor. However, in the following cases or situations, its highly advisable that you consult your doctor for advice:
- You notice red, cracked or irritated skin in a new area
- You are still scratching or the itchiness gets worse
- Youre planning on going on holiday
- You develop swollen, painful or stiff joints
Other Methods Of Hair Removal
Here are some other common techniques for removing unwanted hair, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association .
Waxing This method uses hot or cold wax thats applied to the skin and then quickly removed to pull out the hairs. The results can last a few weeks or longer, and it can be used in delicate areas, such as the skin above your upper lip or your bikini area.
But the removal of the wax can be painful and irritating, which could be problematic for some people with psoriasis. And if the wax is too hot, it can potentially burn your skin.
Depilatories This method involves applying a specially formulated cream, lotion, or gel that dissolves unwanted hair. Some people prefer this method because its easy and convenient: You simply put the product on the skin where you want to remove hair, wait a set amount of time, and then rinse it off with water.
Depilatories are irritating enough that they can cause problems, though, says Stone. We dont recommend them for people with psoriasis.
Laser hair removal This procedure uses a beam of light to destroy the hair follicle so it cant grow back. While home devices are available, the AAD notes that you should have this done by a trained dermatologist to achieve the best results. And if you have a condition that affects your skin, such as psoriasis, its especially important that you see your doctor to find out if this procedure might be right for you.
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Is Hair Loss Permanent
In most cases, hair loss as a result of scalp psoriasis is only temporary if the condition is adequately treated.
The only reasons it possibly wouldnt grow back are if you had chronic, severe scalp psoriasis that was left untreated or you had scratched so much or you had done so much damage, you were bleeding or causing sores on your scalp and that could lead to scarring, explains Dr. Warren. If we can calm the psoriasis down, treat it and get it under control, then in most cases, we can get that hair to regrow.
The Nitty Gritty Of Scalp Psoriasis
Its easy to think that patches of dry, itchy skin on the scalp are caused by some kind of lack of hygiene. But cleanliness has nothing to do with scalp psoriasis.
Psoriasis is actually a chronic inflammatory disorder caused when the immune system doesnt work quite right. Doctors arent sure why, but some people have an immune system that churns out too many skin cells. Since the body cant get rid of these excess cells fast enough, they pile on top of each other, forming flakey, silvery scales.
Psoriasis can pop up anywhere on the body, but when it shows up on your head, dry skin patches can appear under the hair, on the back of the neck, and behind the ears.
Its easy to confuse psoriasis with dandruff, and sometimes dermatologists arent so sure themselves. When it looks like a blend between psoriasis and dandruff, they call it sebopsoriasis a cute couples name for seborrheic dermatitis, aka dandruff, and psoriasis.
However, some clues that your scalp irritation might be psoriasis include more defined or patterned pink scale-like plaques.
Dandruff looks more like generalized greasy flaking with pink patches. Over-the-counter shampoos can typically knock out dandruff, but scalp psoriasis is a little harder to treat.
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The Mental Burden Of Skin Flakes In Psoriasis And Psoriatic Arthritis
You dont need a medical study to tell you that scaling and flaking is bothersome, but the evidence exists nonetheless: 65 percent of patients rank flaking, peeling, and shedding on their body as one of the top three most distressing symptoms they experience, per research published in The Journal of Dermatological Treatment.
The problem with any skin disease is that its on the outside. You have to deal with how the world is interacting with you and your skin disease. It can cause a lot of pain and suffering, says Amy Wechsler, MD, who is board-certified in both dermatology and psychiatry and author of the book The Mind-Beauty Connection. For instance, if psoriasis flakes are on your hands, you may be worried about shaking hands in work or social settings to say hello.
The challenge then becomes controlling and responding to flares, cleaning up flakes, and explaining them to friends, colleagues, and loved ones. Generally, the more widespread the disease, or the more difficult it is to cover up, the greater the effect it has on quality of life, says Dr. Bressack.
Castor Oil For Psoriasis
Castor oil isnt an essential oil, but it can be used as a vehicle for applying essential oil. You can add essential oils to a castor oil base before application. This can help dilute the essential oil and prevent any adverse effects.
This natural emollient also works to soften skin. Anecdotal accounts suggest that cold pressed castor oil may help speed up healing and moisturize areas of dry, flaky skin when used daily.
Its also thought that applying castor oil directly to your skin may help remove toxins. It may improve immune function by increasing your count of disease-fighting lymphocyte cells.
Castor oil sold in stores may be chemically processed or sourced from seeds that have been sprayed with pesticides. You should read labels carefully, and proceed slowly to avoid side effects like skin irritation. You shouldnt use this oil if youre pregnant or breastfeeding.
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What Are Causes And Risk Factors Of Scalp Psoriasis
It is generally accepted that scalp psoriasis, like all psoriasis, is related to genetic defects that affect certain parts of the immune system. There are undoubtedly environmental risk factors that trigger its initial development in genetically predisposed individuals. The notion that emotional stress plays a causal role or at least exacerbates psoriasis has been difficult to prove. There is no question, however, that psoriasis of the scalp can be an extremely stressful experience.
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Apple Cider Vinegar For Your Scalp
It’s more than just a salad dressing. Put some on your head a few times a week — either full strength or mixed with water. It’s a recipe for relief when your scalp calls out “scratch me.”
Rinse it off after it dries so you won’t get an irritation. And don’t try this when your scalp is bleeding or cracked. The vinegar will make it feel like it’s burning.
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Consider A Medication Change
If youre struggling with an overload of flakes, you may need to evaluate and possibly switch medication. That can be frustrating, but there are many choices of targeted treatments on the market. It can be trial and error, but everyone can be treated, says Dr. Wechsler.
Psoriasis can be mild, moderate, or very severe, and these symptoms can change over time, so treatment that worked for you in the past may not be right for you now. If youre currently being treated for mild psoriasis but are starting to have more severe disease, talk to your doctor about if its time to change your therapy. Heres a brief overview of different types of treatment for psoriasis.
Can Scalp Psoriasis Cause Hair Loss
In response to an increase in inflammation, your hair follicles can become weak and brittle. Paired with an itchy, dry scalp, you might feel inclined to scratch or pick at the scales caused by psoriasis.
When you do that, you can make your scalp psoriasis worse, says Dr. Warren. As you try to relieve your symptoms with scratching, you could actually be causing some hair loss.
Because of the inflammation, hair can fall out on its own, but further agitation can speed that process along.
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Cut The Itch With Apple Cider Vinegar
Some people say to use this on your scalp a few times a week. Itâs long been used as a disinfectant, so it may burn a bit when you put it on. You can mix it with equal parts water to cut the sting. Some people like to use it full-strength and then rinse once it dries. But donât try this one if you have cracks or open skin. Itâll really hurt! It may take a few weeks to notice a difference in itchiness. In general, check with your doctor before you try natural remedies.
Apple Cider Vinegar Can Relieve Psoriasis Itch
Thanks to its anti-bacterial properties, apple cider vinegar has the ability to ease the irritation of everything from bug bites to blisters. When it comes to your scalp, apple cider vinegar can help relieve the itch associated with psoriasis.
Try it by saturating your scalp with a mixture of 1 to 2 parts water and 1 part vinegar several times a week for 10 minutes but dont try this at-home treatment if you have cracked or bleeding skin.
Use a comb to gently remove scales once theyve plumped up from the moisture, then shampoo and rinse as usual. You can also use the same apple cider vinegar rinse to remove dulling product buildup. Be sure to follow up with a deep conditioner to prevent your hair from drying out.
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What Are Scalp Psoriasis Symptoms And Signs Can Scalp Psoriasis Cause Hair Loss
Psoriasis appears as a small bump, a papule, surmounted by scale. When these papules coalesce, a plaque is formed that is often covered by thick layers of horny scale. When this scale is shed, it appears as dandruff, which can be quite unsightly. Scratching these plaques, either because of itching or because of the impulse to remove it, is a very poor idea because of what is called the Koebner phenomenon . This may cause psoriasis to develop in areas of inflammation and trauma. Scratching off the scale will only make things worse. Although most patients do not note hair loss, there can be extensive alopeciahair loss in severe cases.
Common Scalp Conditions And How To Treat Them
Its not only your hair health you need to think about. Strong, beautiful hair can only grow from a healthy scalp. Some of the most common scalp conditions cause itchiness, rashes and hair loss. So watch out for the symptoms and find out how to treat them!
Seborrheic Dermatitis is one of the most common scalp conditions that is defined by dandruff and patches of grease. In a worst case scenario, it can even lead to hair loss! Its not contagious but is an obvious inconvenience. Seborrheic Dermatitis is associated with stress and seasonal changes in your body, such as weakened immune system or seasonal depression, so tends to worsen in winter and early spring. Besides these causes, this disease can also be triggered by Parkinsons, diabetes, obesity or caused by fungus. To fight this condition, youll need a prescription-strength ketoconazole shampoo that should be applied directly to your scalp for 5-10 minutes prior to wetting your hair and followed by a moisturising shampoo and conditioner to prevent excessive dryness.
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Shampoo For A Dry And Flaky Scalp
Several kinds, both over the counter and prescription, can help. Try selenium sulfide , zinc pyrithione, ketoconazole , or tar-basedones for thin plaques.
For thicker scales, salicylic acid shampoos can work well. Not all of these work for every person. You may have to try one for a few weeks and switch to another if it doesnât work.
Use the medicated shampoo first when youâd normally lather up. Itâs OK to use your regular shampoo and conditioner afterward. Know that tar-based options can be a bit smelly.
Medications For Severe Scalp Psoriasis
If you have moderate to severe scalp psoriasis, your doctor may prescribe a drug you take by mouth or one that’s injected or pumped through a needle into a vein. Oral medications include:
- A strong form of vitamin A called a derivative
- , a small molecule inhibitor taken twice daily
Since these medications can cause serious side effects, including liver damage, they require a doctorâs close eye. It’s also important to know that oral vitamin derivatives are different from — and more powerful than — vitamin supplements bought over the counter. Ordinary vitamin A and D supplements do not help.
The latest class of FDA-approved medications are called biologics. These drugs, which you get by injection or IV, may keep your skin from making too many cells. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, 11 biologics may work:
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I First Started Getting Psoriasis Around The Age Of 26
It was when I worked at a steakhouse as a cook. I was eating a lot of beef and white bread because it was free. Somebody would mess up a steak or burger at least twice a day, and boom, I had a free meal. I ate beef and white bread almost everyday for two years. Not a good choice.
Red spots starts showing up around my eyelashes and above my lip. Then they started flaking and getting gross, then it started in my hair, little crusty bumps. I didnt know what to do, I didnt have health care, so I couldnt go to the doctor. And it wasnt that bad.
During the next summer I played a lot of basketball outside with no shirt on and it went away. Getting a tan apparently makes psoriasis disappear. But I was also thinking, oh it goes away in the summer, who cares.
I went back to college and started drinking black coffee twice a morning and feeling stressed out. I think the black coffee and stress made the psoriasis return. During that winter it got really bad. The red dots became huge and dry, it felt like my skin was made of rocks. I kept putting lotions on it recommended by some of my female friends, all of which contained alcohol and fragrance, which actually made it worse. When I would reach up to grab things, the dots would crack and bleed.
I was really scared to eat differently like actually scared. How could I ever live without disgusting food and Pepsi on a daily basis?
Prescribed Treatments Can Include Ointments Lasers And Injections
Your doctor can prescribe a number of topical medications that can be applied directly to your scalp that can assist with decreasing the amount of scales you have. Topical steroids come in a variety of types, including lotions, solutions and thicker ointments. These can help clear some of the scales without damaging your hair.
But for more difficult cases, there are also handheld laser treatments and steroid injections available. Many patients need something more because their scalp psoriasis is stubborn, says Dr. Warren. If you have moderate to severe psoriasis, you might also be prescribed oral or injectable medications to target psoriasis, not only on your scalp, but also on other parts of your body, nails or joints.
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Olive Oil Soothes The Scalp Loosens Flakes
Olive oil is good for your dietary health, but it also has many benefits when applied to the scalp and hair. An olive oil mask, for example, can help tame frizz and add shine. Olive oil also helps loosen flakes associated with psoriasis, says Soheil Simzar, MD, a clinical instructor of dermatology at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine in Los Angeles.
To get these benefits, massage 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil directly into the scalp. Depending on the severity of the plaques, you can leave the oil on anywhere from 10 minutes to overnight before washing it out. Prior to rinsing, use a fine-toothed comb to gently remove the loosened scales.
Could Listerines Ingredients Soothe Psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that presents with red patches of raised skin. These patches are typically dry, and can cause burning and itching. While we know Listerine cant cure an autoimmune disease, is there a chance the ingredients could soothe these symptoms?
Home remedies may work and may help if they contain oils or other lubricants for the skin, says Dr. Tien Nguyen, a dermatologist with Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley, California. Nguyen says the eucalyptus oil in Listerine could provide a certain amount of relief.
Both the menthol and alcohol could cool the psoriasis patches, too, relieving patients of their itchiness, according to Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse of the University of Southern California.
Both doctors, however, say the alcohol within Listerine counteracts any potential benefits.
I would not recommend applying alcohol to the skin because it will dry it out and cause more scaling, itching, and irritation in the long run, says Dr. Shainhouse.
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