Psoriasis is a medical condition that commonly causes skin changes on the knees, elbows, hands, feet, and scalp. When it affects the scalp, red, raised, scaly patches appear, and hair loss may occur.
Early treatment can reduce the risk of psoriasis symptoms worsening which can lead to hair loss.
Scalp psoriasis can occur as one or two patches but it can also be widespread. It cany affect the whole scalp, the forehead, the back of the neck, or behind the ears.
Psoriasis and scalp psoriasis
Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes skin cells to grow too quickly, resulting in scaling and inflamed skin and other symptoms.
When skin cells grow, they form deep within the skin and slowly move to the surface. There, the new cells replace dead cells, and the dead skin cells are shed. This process normally takes around a month to complete.
Psoriasis speeds up this process of skin regeneration. When a person has psoriasis, it takes only a few days for new cells to form and rise to the surface. The speed at which this happens causes the skin to build up in patches on the surface.
A buildup of skin is known as plaque. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of psoriasis.
As the skin builds up, patches of red, thickened skin with silver streaks begin to form. These patches may be itchy or painful. A person may experience dry, cracked skin that bleeds, plus swelling and stiffness in their joints.
In scalp psoriasis, these patches of excess cells affect the skin of the head.
Scalp psoriasis is most often affected by plaque psoriasis, but other kinds of psoriasis can also occur. Scalp psoriasis can cause intense itching, but scratching will only cause skin damage. Although patients often feel a relief by scratching their head, the feeling of relief is only temporary because they are actually making their psoriasis worse and prolonging the flare.
Symptoms of scalp psoriasis
In scalp psoriasis, skin changes can appear on the scalp, forehead, back of the neck, and behind the ears.
A person may notice:
- red patches on the scalp, ranging from barely noticeable to pronounced and inflamed lesions
- flaking and scales that may at first resemble dandruff but have a silvery sheen
- a dry scalp that may crack and bleed
- itching that ranges from a mild annoyance to extreme that interferes with life and sleep
- burning, soreness, or pain on the scalp
- temporary hair loss, as a result of scratching the scalp or removing the scales
Bleeding can occur if the skin becomes dry and cracked while scratching can make this worse. If skin cracks occur, a fungal or other infection may result.
If a person notices swollen lymph nodes in the neck or crusting on the scalp, they should see a doctor, as they may need treatment for an infection.
Psoriasis, including scalp psoriasis, typically goes through phases of flares and remission.
During a flare, symptoms appear and may become severe. During a phase of remission, the symptoms may disappear for a long time. With scalp psoriasis, the hair usually regrows during periods of remission.
How to treat scalp psoriasis
Some home remedies and lifestyle changes can help people to take control of their scalp psoriasis and prevent outbreaks.
When symptoms occur, we suggest the following:
- seek medical advice as soon as possible
- avoid scratching or picking
- shampoo gently to prevent further irritation
- gently brush and comb out flakes and scales
- apply treatment to the scalp, not just the hair
- let the hair dry without using a hair dryer
Some types of shampoo are more suitable for people with scalp psoriasis. Psoriasis Treatments recommends Naftalan Shampoo – unique shampoo rich in naftalan oil minerals and chamomile extract. Psoriasis Shampoo is intended for use instead of regular body creams and shampoos, specially designed for psoriasis affected scalp and skin. It ccan be used daily without any restriction. Just apply it to the scalp and skin, leave for 3-5 minutes and wash thoroughly.
For a psoriasis irritated scalp we recommend Naftalan Scalp Care Pack which consists of both Naftalan Shampoo and Naftalan Oil. First apply Naftalan Oil which stops itching, repairs skin structure and regenerates skin cells. Wait for the scalp to absorb it thoroughly, ideally over night. And then gently apply Naftalan Shampoo, leave for several minutes and wash throughly with luke warm water.
Other tips to prevent symptoms of scalp psoriasis from flaring or worsening include:
- giving up smoking
- avoiding alcohol
- limiting exposure to cold weather
- limiting stress
- maintaining a healthy body weight
- monitoring any skin injuries, such as cuts or insect bites, for psoriatic changes
- informing a doctor if you have psoriasis before taking any new medication