Signs And Symptoms Of Scalp Psoriasis
The most common complaint is a dry, flaky, red scalp with occasional itchiness. Many people find that it worsens with stress and after some infections. Other common symptoms include:
- Reddish patches on the scalp, sometimes thick and inflamed
- Dandruff-like flaking and silvery-white scale that looks like dandruff
- Dry scalp that may crack and bleed
- Mild to intense itching
- Temporary hair loss
How Much Of Your Body Is Involved
Healthcare professionals sometimes use a percentage to talk about how much of your body is affected by a skin condition. The percentage is sometimes called your body surface area involved, or BSA.
- mild psoriasis: covers less than 3 percent of the body
- moderate psoriasis: covers between 3 and about 9 percent of the body
- severe psoriasis: covers 10 percent and more of the body
If you want to estimate that percentage yourself, you can use the size of your hand as a go-by. Most peoples hands are about 1 percent of the overall size of their body. About how many areas the size of your hand are covered by plaques? Health experts sometimes say that a case is severe if more than of your body is affected.
Moderate To Severe Psoriasis Treatments
Your doctor may prescribe steroids, lotions, solutions, sprays, or foams to treat moderate to severe scalp psoriasis. Some topical treatments are applied directly to the skin, then shampooed and rinsed out, including:
- Anthralin . Apply this cream once a day for 10 to 30 minutes.
- Calcipotriene . This is a prescription form of vitamin D. Apply it at night and cover your scalp with a shower cap. Leave it on overnight. Don’t get it in your eyes.
- Calcipotriene and betamethasone dipropionate . This is a combination of a type of vitamin D and a strong steroid in a suspension or ointment. You use it once a day. Don’t get it in your eyes.
- Tazarotene . This vitamin A treatment comes in a cream, foam, or gel form. If using it at night, put it on clean, dry skin, and let the medication dry before you go to sleep. Applying a moisturizer after the medication may help prevent drying.
Follow your doctor’s directions for all medications. Don’t use stronger steroids for more than a 2-week cycle without your doctor giving you the OK.
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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.
Plaque Psoriasis Of The Elbow
This photo contains content that some people may find graphic or disturbing.
This photo illustrates how thick plaques can become if left untreated. Beyond a lack of appropriate treatment, plaque psoriasis can be instigated by any number of common and uncommon triggers. These include stress, infections, obesity, alcohol, smoking, skin trauma, medications, extreme humidity, and cold/dry weather.
Many of thesedrugs and stress, especiallycan exacerbate flares, making symptoms worse and more difficult to control.
In cases this severe, a doctor would likely recommend immunosuppressant drugs that temper the overactive immune response. These include disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs like methotrexate and cyclosporine, or new biologic drugs like Humira and Enbrel .
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Scalp Psoriasis Vs Dermatitis
Like psoriasis, dermatitis can also affect the scalp. While some of the treatments for these conditions may overlap, the conditions themselves have different causes.
Scalp psoriasis is likely caused by immune dysfunction. Dermatitis is caused by various skin irritants, such as allergens.
With scalp psoriasis, youll notice silvery-red scales that may extend beyond the hairline. Theyll cause itching, flaking, and redness. In dermatitis, scales are white or yellowish and accompanied by dandruff.
A doctor can usually tell the difference between scalp psoriasis and dermatitis by taking a look at the affected area. In other cases, it might be trickier to tell the difference.
They might perform a skin scrape or take a biopsy. An overgrowth of skin cells will be present in cases of scalp psoriasis. In dermatitis cases, there will be irritated skin and sometimes bacteria or fungi.
Dermatitis can cause dandruff. Scalp psoriasis and dandruff share many of the same symptoms, such as:
- white or yellow skin flakes on the scalp
- mild redness
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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What Is The Difference Between Guttate Psoriasis And Plaque Psoriasis
Guttate psoriasis and plaque psoriasis look different. Guttate psoriasis looks like small, discolored, drop-shaped scaly spots and usually appears in children and young adults. It typically appears after a sore throat caused by a streptococcal infection. It often goes away after several weeks, even if you dont seek treatment.
Topical Steroids Reduce Psoriasis Inflammation
Best for: Mild to moderate psoriasis
Why it works: Topical steroids work by reducing the inflammation thats driving the skin changes seen in psoriasis, Daveluy says. This type of treatment for scalp psoriasis is likely to be a liquid instead of a cream. When your hair is wet, create a part and apply a small amount. Then create a new part right next to it, and apply again, and keep doing this until your whole scalp has been treated, he says. A shower cap may also be worn to keep the product from staining pillowcases.
Topical steroids can be bought or prescribed at different strengths, depending on your symptoms. Some people may also need steroid injections for short-term treatments.
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What To Do For Infection
If your scalp psoriasis becomes infected, you may have crusting, redness, warmth, tenderness, and sometimes swelling of your lymph nodes. Your doctor may prescribe an antibiotic treatment for this problem.
National Psoriasis Foundation: “Specific locations: scalp,” “Scalp Psoriasis,” and “Over-the-Counter Topicals,” “Traditional systemic medications,” “Moderate to severe psoriasis: Biologic drugs.”
Handa, S. Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, 2010.
Skin Therapy Letter: “Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis with Emphasis on Calcipotriol Plus Betamethasone Dipropionate Gel .”
What About Perms And Other Hair Treatments
Scalp psoriasis does not necessarily mean you cant have hair treatments, but you do need to be careful. Certain things that do not touch the scalp such as highlights should be fine, and treatments that do touch the scalp usually require a patch test to be done in advance, to make sure you do not have a reaction. If there is broken skin on the scalp then it is not advisable to have dyes or perms applied. It is always a good idea to discuss your scalp psoriasis with your hairdresser, who should have up to date information about possible options, and if in doubt always consult your doctor.
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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.
Are There Any Home Remedies For Scalp Psoriasis
While home remedies are safe for most people, its a good idea to check with your healthcare provider before trying some of the following options. You may be at risk of developing an allergic reaction.
- Aloe vera. Aloe vera is a wound care gel. It can keep your skin hydrated while treating itchiness and irritation. Gently apply aloe vera to your plaques two to three times per day.
- Baking soda. Mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda with a small amount of warm water to make a paste. Gently apply the paste to your plaques and leave it on for up to 10 minutes to treat itchiness and irritation. Baking sodas gritty texture also helps remove dead skin cells . Gently rub it on your affected areas to soften your plaques.
- Coconut oil. Coconut oil moisturizes your skin. It also contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that help reduce inflammation.
- Olive oil. Olive oil helps moisturize your dry skin and minimize irritation and itching.
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How To Choose A Shampoo For Scalp Psoriasis
Still unsure how to pick the right shampoo for your hair and scalp? Heres what to consider:
- Severity of your symptoms. If youre experiencing a mild to medium case of scalp psoriasis, start with an OTC shampoo. If you have a severe case, or if OTC products dont seem to help, you may need to see your doctor for a prescription shampoo.
- Consider your hair type. Check the ingredients list before you make a purchase, especially if you have dry, curly, color treated, or fine hair. Some shampoos may contain drying ingredients, like sulfates, while others may be too heavy for fine hair.
- Do your research. If you didnt see a shampoo on this list you want to try, no worries! There are many shampoos out there that will work great for you. Just look for key ingredients, like salicylic acid or coal tar, and be sure to check reviews to see what others with scalp psoriasis have to say about it.
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How Long Does It Take For Plaque Psoriasis To Heal
Although research is promising, doctors cannot yet cure psoriasis. Once a person has had a psoriasis flare, they are likely to have another one.
Patches of psoriasis may clear up after a few months, or they may stay the same, get bigger, or spread across the body. In some people, psoriasis will disappear and not return for years.
Treatment can help reduce the frequency of flares and the severity of symptoms.
People who find that environmental factors trigger their flares can often reduce flare frequency by controlling these triggers, which may include stress or allergies.
Psoriasis has a characteristic appearance that most doctors quickly recognize.
If a doctor suspects psoriasis but is unsure, they may perform a skin biopsy to rule out other causes. The biopsy will involve taking a sample of affected skin and examining it under a microscope.
Treatment depends on the severity of psoriasis. Some people can control their symptoms by avoiding triggers and using over-the-counter corticosteroid creams.
People with moderate or severe psoriasis may need medication to control their symptoms. A wide range of medications is available, including:
Other treatment strategies include:
other types of psoriasis include:
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How To Treat Plaque Psoriasis
Theres currently no cure for plaque psoriasis . But there are a ton of treatment options to help soothe those itchy patches and help you get through the day.
Take your time finding the treatment thats best for you. It may take some trial and error.
Most people with psoriasis can treat the symptoms at home. A quick slather of moisturizer and a short blast in the sun may be enough for some people . But you may also need medical treatment.
Its best to talk with a doctor or dermatologist who can help work out the best treatments for you.
Severe Plaque Psoriasis Photos
But if there are signs of severe psoriasis , it can be very painful and dangerous. Usually all forms of this skin disorder go through certain phases, that is why severe psoriasis symptoms continue for some period of time, and after proper treatment they improve and even disappear. Still the aggravation requires a lot of tolerance it can be really challenging. Like such an unpleasant condition as facial severe plaque psoriasis affecting sensitive skin and involving eyes sometimes.
It also develops around the mouth, in the ears and demands prompt treatment like phototherapy together with medications. There is statistics proving that about 50 % of patients suffering from psoriasis have experienced sores at the damaged locations. And one of the most complicated types of this disease is psoriatic arthritis being inflammation of the joints with plaques on the skin in these areas. It usually develops with 10% of patients in approximately 8-10 years after the psoriasis is diagnosed.
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Systemic And Biologic Treatments
These treatments work to slow down the growth of skin cells or to reduce inflammation.
Biologic medications block proteins in the immune system that are related to psoriasis, such as:
- tumor necrosis factor-alpha
is continually being done to see how these biologics can help reduce symptoms, and to develop newer medications.
Treatments To Stop Psoriasis From Spreading
If you donÃ¢t want your small skin patch to become larger, and you donÃ¢t want more psoriasis patches to show up on your body, then you should start on a psoriasis treatment plan. This may include:
Topical steroids. Also known as corticosteroids, these are some of the most common medications for mild to moderate psoriasis. Topical means you apply the medication to your skin. Topical steroids are available as an ointment, cream, lotion, gel, foam, spray, solution, or shampoo.
Other topical therapies. Steroids arenÃ¢t the only topical medications that can get your psoriasis patches under control. Others include:
Steroid shots. Doctors can treat stubborn psoriasis patches with a steroid shot directly into the inflamed skin.
Pills. There are a few types of pills that can lower your bodyÃ¢s production of skin cells:
- Methotrexate, which stops cell growth
- , a phosphodiesterase inhibitor that blocks cells that cause inflammation
- Acitretin, a retinoid, which may stop cells from growing as fast
- Cyclosporine, which suppresses your immune system
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How Is Scalp Psoriasis Treated
Some shampootreatments can be bought over the counter, however, if your scalp is coveredwith thick scale or doesnt clear up, do consult your GP. There is a wide rangeof topical treatments that can beprescribed including coal tar, dithranol, salicylic acid, steroid creams andointments, Vitamin D based treatments, as well asoils for moisturising the scalp, such as coconut oil. Various scalp treatments are available in cream, ointment,mousse, gel or shampoo formulations. If your scalp psoriasis is particularly difficult to treat, yourGP may refer you to a Dermatologist, Dermatology Nurse Specialist, or GP with aSpecial Interest in skin.
Plaque Psoriasis: Symptoms And Causes
Despite various kinds of psoriasis, plaque psoriasis is the most common type of this skin disorder. This plaque may appear on several body parts, such as elbow, knee, back, face, and scalp. A plaque psoriasis is signed by the occurrence of raised red patches with white dead skin flakes. With severe psoriasis, these patches and flakes might break and cause bleeding. Like other kinds of psoriasis, a plaque psoriasis is caused by fast growth of new skin cells. This growth causes excessive skin cells which turn into skin flakes. Psoriasis susceptibility might have been inside some individuals and might be triggered to appear when these people experience immune system dysfunction.
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Articles On Scalp Psoriasis
Scalp psoriasis is a common skin disorder that makes raised, reddish, often scaly patches. It can pop up as a single patch or several, and can even affect your entire scalp. It can also spread to your forehead, the back of your neck, or behind and inside your ears.
You canât catch scalp psoriasis from another person. As with other types, we donât know what causes it. Doctors believe it comes from something wrong with your immune system that causes skin cells to grow too quickly and build up into patches. You may be more likely to get scalp psoriasis if it runs in your family.
About half of the estimated 7.5 million Americans with psoriasis – which can affect any skin surface – have it on their scalp. Sometimes the scalp is the only place they have it, but thatâs uncommon.
Scalp psoriasis can be mild and almost unnoticeable. But it can also be severe, last a long time, and cause thick, crusted sores. Intense itching can affect your sleep and everyday life, and scratching a lot can lead to skin infections and hair loss.