Scalp psoriasis is a distinct form of psoriasis which can become a major cause of concern for its sufferers. Learn about how to treat scalp psoriasis effectively.
Symptoms of scalp psoriasis
This is a very common form of psoriasis, and surveys indicate that about half of the psoriasis sufferers are affected by it. The condition presents itself as spots or scabs which develop on the scalp. Initially, a sufferer may confuse them with dandruff; however, they have a characteristic silver tint. If proper care is not taken, the disease continues to grow, resulting in the enlargement of the spots and sores. This eventually obstructs the growth of new hair. Moreover, the condition may become dormant, and will not flare up again until triggered. Extreme cases of scalp psoriasis lead to permanent hair loss or thinning of hair in the affected areas.
The condition also leads to constant peeling and flaking of the scalp, and thus makes it nearly impossible for the sufferer to wear dark clothing. The flakes keep raining on the shoulders, giving the impression of dandruff to anyone near you.
Cause of scalp psoriasis
Despite the numerous researches and extensive studies carried out by independent institutions, there is no definite cause that can be held responsible for the outburst of scalp psoriasis. However, health experts have concluded that this condition can be triggered by a combination of factors. These largely include genetic predisposition, environmental factors and stress.
A common and growing cause of concern among the sufferers of this disease is that the condition may lead to permanent hair loss. This is because of the side effects of the condition, or simply because of the constant scratching that is associated with scalp psoriasis. However, health experts classify this as an unfounded concern. You will be relieved to know hair loss is not an outcome of this condition.
Diagnosing scalp psoriasis
Scalp psoriasis, in many cases, can be misunderstood as scalp flaking. This will lead to the advancement of the disease, since proper treatment is not administered. Scalp psoriasis can be distinguished with a physical examination, and this involves checking of nail-pits and other body parts for detection of psoriasis. Skin biopsy is the last step to conclude the presence of scalp psoriasis in the body.
Scalp psoriasis treatment
Scalp psoriasis treatment largely involves systematic treatment of the condition. However, your doctor may suggest specialized treatment depending on the location of scalp psoriasis.
Sufferers of scalp psoriasis have sensitive skin, and this makes selection of proper toiletries quite difficult. For example, selecting the right shampoo may be a difficult decision for many. The regular use of shampoo and bath is quite essential in these situations because not only does it prevent scale buildup, but it also eases the accumulation of seborrheic material on your scalp. Doctors recommend using a shampoo that contains moisturizers so to prevent itching. Additionally, it is recommended that you do not scratch your scalp when shampooing since this will only aggravate the situation. Toiletries containing aloe, oatmeal, shea cocoa and lanolin are known to soothe skin, and their use is strongly recommended for people suffering from psoriasis.
Some doctors also suggest the use of medicated shampoos which contain corticosteroids. Their main function is to work on the immune system and prevent the development of new skin on the scalp, without leaving residues or making the hair look oily after you have shampooed it. These medicated shampoos are available in numerous varieties, and while some can be as mild as hydrocortisone, there are others that form more powerful shampoos. Others, additionally, contain salicylic acid which facilitates better absorption of corticosteroids.
Liquids or shampoos containing coal tar are also very helpful in the treatment of psoriasis. Now, the smell becomes a deterring factor for many, and it is this unpleasant smell that makes people look for other alternatives. However, coal tar shampoo or liquid is immensely important in these situations. All you need to do is to apply it on your scalp and leave it unattended for about 10 minutes. Then rinse your scalp with your favorite shampoo and condition to make the smell go away. It must be mentioned here that coal tar shampoos are relatively inexpensive, and they must be used sparingly. Its main function is to slow down your skin’s growth, and has been in use for a long time. A very popular shampoo is Neutrogena T Gel, and is commonly used for the treatment of psoriasis. Some other commonly used shampoos are Denorex, Polytar and Tegrin.
Another prescription shampoo that dermatologists largely recommend is Clobex. It contains clobetasol propionate. In fact, the active ingredient used in this shampoo is so powerful that doctors suggest caution when applying it. This is because the shampoo, when absorbed by the skin, can also negatively affect the adrenal glands. The shampoo must be used regularly, but only once in a day, for up to four weeks. The results offered include treatment of scalp psoriasis as well as itching. Clobex must be applied and then left for about fifteen minutes before you rinse it off your hair. A word of caution here – do not apply the shampoo on any other body part other than your scalp.
Topical vitamin A analogue is also quite helpful in the treatment of this condition. Tazorac is another shampoo that is known to facilitate skin cell growth. Similar to the precautions applied with all other retinoid, the use of Tazorac must be avoided by women who are pregnant or are considering pregnancy. Use of Tazorac must only be limited for severe cases of psoriasis.
Oral medications used for treatment of scalp psoriasis are either available over-the-counter or are prescribed. These require oral consumption, and aim towards relieving the patient from the symptoms. For these medications to work, their composition must include:
- Salicylic acid
- Coal tar
Of these, corticosteroids are especially preferred if psoriasis has localized on a patient’s scalp. A research carried out by an independent institute in 2000 suggests the use of clobetasol as a typical corticosteroid. The research showed that 80% of the sufferers who used clobetasol showed improvements from 80-100% within a period of two weeks.
Moreover, it has been found out that consumption of ketoconazole, an anit-fungal drug, proved to be considerably effective when treating acute flare-ups of scalp psoriasis. However, this is not a labeled application of the drug.
In addition to these medications, doctors also recommend consumption of multivitamins as effective treatment options. The most important vitamins include:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D (either through an oral supplement or via sunlight)
Scalp psoriasis can also be effectively treated by the use of direct skin applications. However, it must be noted that these applications work best when the symptoms are mild. The effects are somewhat dampened when the condition becomes severe.
Another notable point here is that these skin applications are classified as topical treatments. This implies that its utilization on the scalp may be slightly less useful, given the reason that these are intended to be applied on the skin and not on your scalp.
Some medications, such as Tazarotene, Calcipotriol and Anthralin, are meant to be used for quite a long time, say for several weeks or even months. The typical procedure involves applying them for about 15 minutes, and then leaving them on for several hours on your scalp.
Infusions and injections
These involve local treatment to scalp psoriasis, and are very effective in cases where the symptoms are still mild. Your doctor will recommend this method of treatment if your scalp psoriasis only affects a few areas.
Ultraviolet phototherapy has been in use for quite some time now, and most patients using this method of treatment have been satisfied with the results. A limitation of this therapy, however, is that it can only be used for the treatment of serious conditions. A potential side effect, and probably the only one associated with this form of treatment, is prolonged exposure to UV rays. Now, this may not only cause sunburn, but in some very serious cases, also leads to cancer of the skin. Nevertheless, this is only a possibility, and there is no record which indicates of skin cancer because of the use of the recently developed Narrow band UV therapy.
UVA light is extensively used in tanning salons and solariums. Treatment of scalp psoriasis requires exposure to UVB light, and this is more recently developed form of treatment. Earlier, wide band light was used for treatment which always left some room for health risks to occur. The narrow band UVB therapy is a relatively safer method of treatment, and its benefits include controlled and targeted exposure.
In contrast, some dermatologists find phototherapy very cumbersome. This is because it requires specific attachments, and more so because the patient’s scalp has to be inspected often for cancerous formation. This, depending on the amount of hair you have, can be quite difficult and time-consuming.
Home treatment device for psoriasis – Dermalight80
If you want to know how to treat scalp psoriasis at home, check out Dermalight80. The Dermalight80 is a UV phototherapy device that is rated the best in the category. The device has been designed specifically for home use, with compatibility and versatility being given the main concern. Dermalight80 can be used for the treatment of almost any part of the body that is suffering from psoriasis, also including the scalp. Dermalight80 is available in standard UVB-narrow band 311 Nm bulbs.
In addition to the treatment of psoriasis, Dermalight80 can also be used for the treatment of several other medical conditions such as vitiligo, eczema and any other condition that can be treated with the help of ultraviolet light.