One of the common skin disorders is scalp psoriasis which is manifested by bulging, sometimes scaly reddish patches on the scalp surface. This skin disease may appear like one patch, several patches or even can cover the whole scalp. It may affect your neck back, your forehead, or the parts behind your ears.
Scalp psoriasis doesn’t belong to catchy disease type. Similar to other psoriasis kinds the cause of this form cannot be determined by medical professionals. Most of them associate it with immune system disorder that urges the intensive growth of cells resulting in patches formation. If some of your relatives have developed the disease you are more vulnerable to it. According to the survey conducted among 7.5 mln psoriasis affected Americans half of them suffer from the scalp skin disorder having psoriasis scalps. In some cases people have psoriasis only on the scalp, though typically other body places get affected. The mild scalp psoriasis symptoms are almost unnoticeable. Its severe form lasting for a long period of time leads to crusted thick sores. Your overall condition, in particular your sleep can be seriously affected by intense irritating itching. Moreover, you risk getting skin infection or losing your hair if you scratch damaged scalp area a lot.
Scalp psoriasis symptoms
Symptoms of a mild form of scalp psoriasis may only be manifested by slight scaling while moderate and severe psoriasis forms are characterized by the following:
• Red bulging scaly patches
• Silvery white scales
• Flaking similar to dandruff
• Dry scalp
• Loss of hair
A lot of patients feel anxious about hair loss. It cannot be caused by psoriasis itself. However, there are a lot of factors which can provoke it, namely, harsh treatment, continuous or intensive scratching of scaly spots and most importantly the stress which typically accompanies this condition. Fortunately, you can see your hair growing back after your scalp skin becomes clearer as an outcome of effective therapy.
You need to consult either your dermatologist or doctor if you notice any of the above mentioned symptoms. For him to exclude any health disorder with similar symptoms (e.g. seborrheic dermatitis) he will have to examine your skin or/and do a skin biopsy.
There are great many of means, belonging to topical treatment category, which people apply directly to their skin: gels, creams, oils, ointments, medical shampoos and soaps. The products with mild effect can be got over the counter while a doctor’s prescription is required for stronger ones.
Non-prescription products usually contain FDA approved medications:
1) Coal tar;
2) Salicylic acid.
Prescription drugs for harnessing scalp psoriasis can contain them in higher concentration or comprise other medications permitted by the FDA, such as:
1) Antimicrobials suitable for treating yeast or bacterial infections that can accompany scalp psoriasis;
2) Anthralin, a conventional prescription medication;
3) Calcipotriene, a vitamin D derivative;
4) Calcipotriene & betamethasone dipropionate, which is a strong steroid;
5) Tazarotene, a vitamin A derivative;
6) Other steroids for topical application.
For positive effect these treatment means must be applied directly on the scalp surface, not just hair. The healing process can take around 8 weeks provided you use one or more of these medications regularly following the instructions carefully. As soon as psoriasis on the scalp has cleared it is desirable to maintain the obtained result by applying scalp psoriasis shampoo. Shampoo for psoriasis usually contains coal tar. Other relevant medications for filling scalp psoriasis shampoo are zinc and Dead Sea products.
In case you suffer from a mild form of scale psoriasis with only a few affected areas, your dermatologist or doctor may prescribe you steroid injections into the damaged areas.
If topical treatment appears ineffective or its result leaves much to be desired, laser/non-laser based phototherapy may be helpful. An excellent example is an excimer laser which directs its high-intensive light to the damaged area without influencing the healthy skin around it. For treating the whole scalp dermatologists often use Ultraviolet light sometimes delivering it with a UV comb hand-held device. If your head is shaved or your hair is very, going out in natural sunlight may be recommended by your doctor.
Medications for a Severe Form of Scalp Psoriasis
For treating moderate and sever psoriasis of the scalp your prescribed treatment will include a drug which can be taken by mouth, injected or infused into a vein. The most common oral medications are as follows:
• Vitamin D derivative
• Vitamin A derivative
These medications must be taken carefully, usually under a doctor’s thorough supervision as they have a potential ability of causing side effects.
Patients should be knowledgeable of vitamin derivatives being more powerful compared to corresponding non-prescribed vitamin supplements. Conventional A and D vitamin supplements are not helpful.
Biologics, belonging to FDA-permitted medications, prevent your skin from producing a lot of cells. They can be taken IV or by injection. The American Academy of Dermatology confirms the appropriateness of the following biologics:
1) ustekinumab (Stelara®);
2) etanercept (Enbrel®);
3) infliximab (Remicade®).
Living With Scalp Psoriasis
Although psoriasis on scalp cannot be fully cured, a lot of treatment means can help harness the disease by reducing symptoms and preventing complications. Following the treatment program thoroughly you can endure even severe scalp psoriasis.