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Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is one type of psoriasis, which in turn is a skin disorder that affects and alters the life cycle of the skin cells. Psoriasis can be very discomforting for the patient and result in increased distress. The condition is characterized by a rapid buildup of dead cells above the skin surface, eventually leading to the growth of silver-like thick scales as well as formation of reddish, itchy, dry and often painful blotches on skin.

Nearly fifty percent of the patients affected by psoriasis suffer from the scalp psoriasis type. Scalp psoriasis is responsible for causing flakes, leading to development of sticky, dandruff-like plaques and thickened scales on the skin. The effects of scalp psoriasis can travel to adjacent regions like the face, back of neck and behind the ears.

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Symptoms of scalp psoriasis

Some of the signs and symptoms of scalp psoriasis are discussed below:

  • Development of reddish and itchy blotches on the scalp. These scalp abnormalities are covered with silvery-white scales. It may be possible to observe the debris of such white scales on the shoulders of the affected individuals, or on their head hair, due to indulgence in scratching of scalp to alleviate the itching
  • Scalp psoriasis can be mild or serious. The former may elicit growth of thin, fine scales, while the latter may result in formation of thicker scales and cake-like plaques that affect the complete scalp region.
  • Scalp psoriasis can occasionally spread to the nearby areas like the back of the neck, forehead, the face, and back of the ears
  • Patients of scalp psoriasis may notice the presence of flakes or fragments of scales on their colored apparels. This can lead to excessive self-consciousness, and later on, may result in the onset of depression, emotional anguish and embarrassment in the affected individual
  • The basic appearance of scalp psoriasis is similar to other skin conditions like seborrheic dermatitis. However, the presence of powdery flakes with a silver gloss in scalp psoriasis is what differentiates it from other diseases. On the other hand, seborrheic dermatitis features a yellowish and lubricated effect.
  • Scalp psoriasis generally does not result in hair fall. However, increased scratching of the head by the affected individual can lead to loss of hair and hair fall.

Scalp Psoriasis causes

  • The exact cause of scalp psoriasis is still a subject of research.
  • It is understood that people with a genetic predisposition to the condition may cause the immune system to malfunction, thereby facilitating the creation of an environment that increases the susceptibility to scalp psoriasis.
  • The T-cells occurring in the immune system protect the human body against attack from infections. However, it is thought that the T-cells occurring in scalp psoriasis patients mistakenly recognize the healthy skin cells as harmful for the body and attack to kill them.
  • In order to continue fighting these ‘harmful’ skin cells, the T-cells become overactive leading to the production of increased quantities of white and red blood cells to combat the healthy cells, erroneously marked as rogue cells. This causes the death of large number of healthy cells, which do get sufficient time to wither away from the skin surface, due to the rapid activities of the overactive T-cells. The continued deposit of the dead skin cells on the surface is what gives the skin its unique appearance associated with scalp psoriasis.

Some of the risk factors that increase the vulnerability to developing scalp psoriasis are as follows:

  • Trauma, bacterial and other infections which result in immune system imbalance
  • Alcoholism and smoking are not only causative factors, but also seem to play a role in increasing the severity of scalp psoriasis
  • It can be triggered by intense cold weather conditions
  • Excessive tension and stress can impair the immune system, resulting in the creation of an environment suitable for formation of scalp psoriasis
  • It can result as a side effect of certain medications like lithium, beta blockers, etc. which are used to treat other disorders
  • Obesity or uncontrolled excess body weight is another risk factor
  • A family history of scalp psoriasis also increases the risk to the disease

Scalp psoriasis treatment

  • The medications prescribed for the treatment of scalp psoriasis have the same ingredients as in those meant for treating other types of psoriasis. However, the scalp psoriasis medications are in available as shampoos, foams, oils, etc., while topical drugs for the other types are available as creams and ointments.
  • Dovonex, anthralin and keratolytics are usually recommended by doctors for treating scalp psoriasis
  • A few biologics and systemic medications may also be suggested to treat the condition
  • Tar or menthol containing shampoos are used to relieve itchiness
  • Topical corticosteroids and oral antihistamines may be additionally prescribed to alleviate itching
  • Laser therapy may used as a standalone treatment method or may be conducted in combination with drug therapy. In laser therapy, the affected sections of scalp are exposed to controlled UV rays of sunlight or artificial UV light, so as to kill the overactive T-cells, thereby decreasing the scaling and inflammation.

Scalp Psoriasis Pictures

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