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Scalp Psoriasis: Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Scalp Psoriasis is a skin condition and one of the variants of Psoriasis, an autoimmune skin disorder. This particular variant makes scaly, reddish and raised patches either at a particular region of the scalp or the entire scalp. Furthermore, it can also spread to the regions of the forehead, down on the neck and behind and even inside the ears.

A disease with unseemly aesthetics, the good news is it cannot be transmitted from one person to another. To get the gist, it is an autoimmune disorder that speeds up the life cycle associated with the skin cells. The leads to the formation of extra skin cells. The more recent cells that push out or “raise” the old skin cells from their position. Consequently, this instance gives a scaly and raised texture to the affected region. Additional symptoms entail itching and inflammation.

The entire ordeal of this disease can severely affect the everyday life of an individual. The reason is not only because of the social stigma due to its aesthetic nature but the itching symptom, in severe cases, can create issues for your sleep and social life as well.

Causes of Scalp Psoriasis

In the case of Psoriasis, the researchers and scientists around the world haven’t been able to find out a proper reason for its occurrence. The information that they do have is this: psoriasis is categorised as an autoimmune condition. It develops due to some abnormality associated with T Cells. These cells are a part of the immune system that when overactive, causes the body to produce more skin cells. When more skin cells are produced, they reach the skin’s surface faster than the body can anticipate. To be precise, the old cells haven’t died at this stage. To that end, the skin cells get erratically placed upon each other in an erratic manner. This causes the texture of the skin to be scaly, reddish, and a bit raised.

That being said, scientists have indeed been able to discern some risk factors associated with this disease. These are as follows:

  1. Family History: This is the most researched upon risk factor of Scalp Psoriasis. If one parent has this issue, the chances for you to encounter this disease can elevate. If its both the parents, the risk escalates even more. Psoriasis is hereditary in many cases.
  2. Bacterial Infection: All psoriasis needs is something to trigger the faulty immune system. Bacterial infections and viruses are the perfect agents for this.
  3. Stress: If there is too much stress, the immune system of the body can be severely affected. To that end, high-stress factor has been known to contribute to high risk of Scalp Psoriasis.
  4. Obesity: The skin creases and folds in certain regions as you start to gain a significant amount of weight. These creases are a sweet spot for psoriasis to occur. The scalp psoriasis that is prevalent around the neck and back of the ears can be an indirect result of this.
  5. Smoking: When you are inhaling a lot of toxins, your immune system is working overtime. In the case of Scalp psoriasis, smoking not only increases the severity of the disease but can play a role in this initial development as well.
  6. Any injury to the skin: If there is a bruising injury to the skin, the immune system gets active and to deal with any resulting foreign bacteria. This can act as a trigger for Psoriasis.

Understanding most of these risk factors play an important role if one wants to prevent Scalp Psoriasis.

Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis-

When it comes to scalp Psoriasis, the symptoms are as follows:

  1. Scaly, bumpy and red patches on the scalp: The accelerated growth of new skin cells doesn’t give time to the old ones to die out. As a result, both these cells have to occupy the same space. Consequently, the skin texture becomes scaly.
  2. Silvery textured dry scales: The skin malformation develops a silvery white texture when the old cells begin to die out.
  3. Dry scalp: As much of the skin cells on the surface are dead, there are none present to retain the moisture. This leads to dry scalp.
  4. Skin irritation: Skin irritation is quite common. It can be moderate, mild or intense.
  5. A feeling of Burning or soreness: Skin irritation, when intense, becomes pain rather than just an annoyance.
  6. Mild to moderate hair loss: Now, the irritation that psoriasis causes can lead one to continuously scratch on their scalp. This, combined with stress and other indirect factors, can lead to hair loss.

Diagnosis of Scalp Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a genetic led disorder. To that end, there are three kinds of diagnostic measures a dermatologist takes to diagnose this condition.

  1. Taking the family history: Considering that family history is one of the risk factors of psoriasis, the most general query that the doctor asks is about family history.
  2. Physical examination: A physical examination can give a superficial idea about the intensity and the spread of the Psoriatic region.
  3. Skin Biopsy: A part of the Psoriatic region is extracted from the scalp and then is taken to the lab for examination. The process is not at all painful, courtesy of the anesthetic. In the laboratory, the sample is checked for the severity, the type, and if there are any other disorders.

These simple albeit effective diagnostic measures provide the dermatologist with a wide range of information. Based on which, the treatment is considered.

Treatment for Scalp Psoriasis

There are four schools of thought as far as scalp psoriasis treatment is considered. These are as follows:

  1. Topical treatments: These treatments entail application on topical ointments of cream at the psoriatic area. However, as scalp Psoriatic is considered here, shampoos are applicable as well. The most common Over the Counter products for its treatments entail the following two chemicals:
    1. Salicylic acid: It is keratolytic. It increases the amount of moisture on the scalp and dissolves the integrity between the old and the new skin cells. This way, the old cells can die and can be removed from the surface.
    2. Coal Tar: Coal tar is an effective chemical to deal with the itching symptom that Scalp Psoriasis brings along. It is a keratoplastic that sheds the top layer of the skin cells. Furthermore, it decelerates the growth of skin cells.
  2. Office treatments: Under mild circumstances, the dermatologist can inject steroids directly into the psoriatic areas. They can also use high intensity ultraviolet beams and apply the light on the entire scalp as well.
    1. Corticosteroids that are injected directly into the area.
    2. Ultraviolet rays are applied over the psoriatic region.
  3. Medicinal treatment: If the condition of psoriasis is mild to moderate; there are medicinal options to handle the matter as well. These options entail the following:
    1. Corticosteroids: It is a steroid hormone whose synthetic variant can help with treating a plethora of medical conditions.
    2. Cyclosporine: It is an immunosuppressant. It can suppress the faulty immune symptom which is contributing to scalp psoriasis.
    3. Soriatane: It is a strong version of Vitamin A.
  4. Biologics treatment: Much of the research that went into finding out about the nature of Psoriasis led to the research of Biologics. These are medications that focus on altering the immune system of the body. According to the dermatologist, the following 7 are the recommended Biologics
    1. Adalimumab
    2. Ixekizumab
    3. Ustekinumab
    4. Infliximab
    5. Guselkumab
    6. Etanercept
    7. Secukinumab

Home Remedies for Scalp Psoriasis 

Following is the list of effective remedies for scalp psoriasis:

  1. Apple Cider vinegar (ACV): With its properties of being an antibacterial, apple cider vinegar can help reducing soreness and irritation due to scalp psoriasis.
  2. Coconut Oil: Many consider it to be the best home base remedy for scalp psoriasis. The scalp can absorb coconut oil pretty fast. Once absorbed, the oil makes sure that the patches and dryness do not encore.
  3. Aloe Vera: Aloe Vera gets known for its utterly soothing effect. Combine this with its anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties, and you have a home remedy that you cannot ignore.
  4. Yogurt: This probiotic acts as a good skin moisturiser. Furthermore, it is also a pretty comprehensive skin exfoliant. To that end, it can remove dead skin cells as well as the bumps associated with Psoriasis.
  5. Shea Butter: Rich in Vitamin A, E, shea butter is a multifaceted home-based remedy that applies to scalp psoriasis as well. It can remove the dead skin cells and is also a pretty robust moisturiser.

Scalp Psoriasis might be an autoimmune disorder, but it is not something that can’t be won over with proper treatment. So, go out there and seek help, but don’t deny the home-based remedies either, for they can help you lead a healthy life.

Sagar Papneja

For me, health is about sustainable living and consuming environmentally conscious food; I am a vegan.