Psoriasis can attack your confidence, your self-esteem and your peace of mind. This is especially true if you have scalp psoriasis, which affects one of the most prominent and public areas of your body. Here are some tips to help you check for scalp psoriasis so that you can seek proper treatment to regain a happy and healthy scalp.
There are a few types of psoriasis, the most common being plaque psoriasis. Plaque psoriasis is a skin condition characterized by the buildup of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, creating thick, silvery, and scaly patches called “plaques.” The skin affected by psoriasis is often red, inflamed, itchy, and tender. Psoriasis can affect any part of your body, but is most often found on the elbows, knees, lower back and scalp. It is not contagious and seems to be caused by genetic and autoimmune factors. The National Psoriasis Foundation says that about 8 million Americans suffer from psoriasis. Those suffering experience periodic flare-ups when the plaques and inflamed skin appear and then go into remission. Environmental factors, such as stress, injury to the skin, certain medications, and infection can trigger flare-ups.
Scalp psoriasis occurs when the psoriatic lesions appear on the scalp, forehead, behind the ears, or the back of the neck. Some of the symptoms of psoriasis can look like other conditions, like eczema, regular dandruff or ringworm. But many of the symptoms of scalp psoriasis are unique. First, you will notice either faint or highly visible red patches of skin. You will probably have dry, flaking skin on the patches. This is different from common dandruff because the psoriasis flaking will be from silvery patches on the skin. It is also likely that you will have dry, bleeding skin on the plaques. The American Academy of Dermatology reports that the most common symptom of scalp psoriasis is itching that can get so intense that it interferes with daily activities and sleep. The itching will cause you to scratch, which will often result in bleeding on the patches. Your skin is likely to have a burning sensation or be generally painful or tender to the touch. Look for hair loss in the area where your patches have appeared. Hair loss in psoriasis is usually caused by the scratching and picking from the itching and flaky skin.
Scalp psoriasis generally needs a gentler treatment than other areas of the body because of the sensitivity of the face and scalp region and because of how the hair can create a barrier to the skin. Self-care tips include to brush and shampoo your hair gently, to not scratch or pick at the plaques and to manage your stress effectively. Your dermatologist will be able to offer a variety of treatments for your scalp psoriasis. Some treatments are topical, such as scale softeners, medicated psoriasis shampoo or other psoriasis medication in the form of gel, foam, spray or liquid. Light therapy (exposing the skin to ultraviolet light) is another option for treating psoriasis, as are oral medications and injections of biologics and other medications. You may also find relief from some alternative practices, like acupuncture, changes in diet, and a variety of home remedies.
It is important to be under the care of a dermatologist for effective treatment of psoriasis. Call Vanguard Dermatology today, located in the greater New York City area. The board-certified dermatologists at Vanguard will work with you to provide the best treatment and outcome for your scalp psoriasis.