Key Symptoms Of Scalp Psoriasis

September 4, 2023

Scalp psoriasis is a commonly-occurring skin disorder that leads to reddish, raised, scaly patches. Some patients experience just one patch, while others have several. It's also possible for the condition to affect the whole scalp, though this is rarer. Scalp psoriasis can sometimes spread beyond the scalp to the back of the neck, forehead, behind the ears, and inside the ears. The condition is not contagious, though it's not currently known what causes it. Researchers believe it's an autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to facilitate the overproduction of skin cells, which then build into patches. Scalp psoriasis appears to have a genetic component, so individuals have a higher likelihood of getting it if another family member has it. About half of all psoriasis patients have scalp patches. While the scalp can be the only place affected, usually other parts of the body are too.

Dry Scalp

A dry scalp is one of the most common symptoms of scalp psoriasis. When an individual has mild psoriasis, there may only be light scaling on the scalp. It might not cause symptoms and may be virtually unnoticeable, especially if they have long hair. Dry scalp indicates the psoriasis is of a moderate to severe level. A dry scalp can cause the skin to become irritated and flake away. However, psoriasis isn't the only condition that can cause dryness, and any time the skin has inadequate moisture, it can dry out. If individuals notice their scalp is dry, they may also have dryness on other portions of their body. Cold and dry air can dry the skin out, which can make symptoms of psoriasis worse. If individuals don't usually have a dry scalp, the cause might be contact dermatitis rather than psoriasis. Contact dermatitis occurs when the skin has an allergic reaction, such as to a new shampoo, conditioner, hair gel, or other product.

Itchy Scalp

An itchy scalp can indicate individuals have psoriasis. Itching often goes hand-in-hand with dryness and flaking., so it can also be caused by the non-psoriasis conditions that lead to dryness. Many individuals have an itchy scalp, medically known as scalp pruritus. The most common cause of itching in the scalp is seborrheic dermatitis, which has many similar symptoms to psoriasis, but the treatment can be different. If an individual's scalp itches, there are a variety of home remedies they can try. However, certain accompanying symptoms are cause for a doctor visit, such as unexplained itching that lasts longer than a week. If the itching comes with swelling, sores, or pain, a doctor should determine the underlying cause. The same is true if the itching becomes intense enough to interfere with day-to-day life or sleeping. Apple cider vinegar is sometimes used to treat itching since it has antifungal, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Another treatment is organic coconut oil, which contains soothing ingredients.

Flakes Similar To Dandruff

Individuals with scalp psoriasis might experience flakes similar to dandruff. There's an important distinction between dandruff and psoriasis-related flaking. Dandruff occurs when the skin has excess oil. Meanwhile, psoriasis-related flaking is because of dry skin patches and excess skin cells flaking away. The flakes in dandruff tend to be large, oily, and usually white or yellow. Psoriasis-related flaking and flaking due to dryness cause smaller, drier flakes. If individuals aren't sure what's causing their flaking, a dermatologist may be able to determine the cause. Consistent itching and redness that accompanies the flaking can also be evaluated by a dermatologist. Most cases of flaking can be controlled by using the right hair care products. There are medicated shampoos that can help deal with dandruff and dandruff-like flakes. Some individuals find their flaking symptoms get worse during the fall and winter, since the air in many climates is dryer during this season. Indoor heating can also contribute to dryness. An indoor humidifier might help alleviate the dry air conditions that aggravate psoriasis.

Burning Sensation

Some patients report feeling a burning sensation on and around their psoriasis patches. Unexplained burning is generally cause to talk to a dermatologist or doctor. Hair bleach might cause the individual's scalp to burn during the treatment, but the sensation shouldn't continue for long after they've washed the bleach out. If it does, affected individuals should consult a doctor. If their scalp burns after they start using a new hair-care product, hairstyling product, shampoo, or conditioner, it could be an allergic reaction. As such, individuals should stop using the new product to avoid making the reaction worse. In addition to psoriasis, the most common skin condition that causes scalp tingling is seborrheic dermatitis, which affects oily portions of the skin. Folliculitis can lead to scalp burning. This condition is usually caused by an infection and leads to swelling and inflammation of the hair follicles. Patients may need antibiotics for the underlying cause of folliculitis, so they should always see a doctor about tingling that comes with pain, red bumps, or lesions in the skin.

Hair Loss

Hair loss isn't triggered by the scalp psoriasis itself. However, the way patients treat their scalp can lead to temporary hair loss. If individuals scratch hard or frequently, they're more likely to pull hair out of their head. Picking at scaly spots also has the potential to uproot hair. Increased stress from psoriasis can lead to potential hair loss. In addition, if individuals use harsh chemical treatments to try to alleviate their symptoms, they may cause hair to thin or fall out. When in doubt, it's always best to discuss treatment with a doctor. Fortunately, since psoriasis itself doesn't cause hair loss, the hair tends to grow back once the skin clears. Permanent hair loss or hair thinning is often a sign of a different medical condition.

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