Your Scalp Psoriasis Questions Answered
With contributions from Angela Finlay.
Scalp psoriasis is one of those "hidden" health conditions that can end up being quite uncomfortable and sometimes embarrassing for the person suffering from it.
It can see you regularly and absent-mindedly scratching or picking at your scalp, or it can often cause what looks like dandruff to be ever-present in your hair. It's one of those things that may come and go in the form of flare-ups, and there's no hard and fast reason why an onset occurs.
While keeping in mind that there aren't any absolute rules around scalp psoriasis, here is a selection of commonly asked scalp psoriasis questions answered.
What Is Scalp Psoriasis?
About 50% of people diagnosed with psoriasis suffer from scalp psoriasis. Scalp psoriasis is a skin condition that appears as raised pink skin lesions on, you guessed it, your scalp. However, it's not always limited to just your scalp. It can flare up on your neck, behind or inside your ears. These patches can often be quite flakey.
One crucial thing to factor into your understanding of scalp psoriasis is that scalp psoriasis is not contagious. Your friends won't suddenly get scalp psoriasis because they stood too close to you or anything like that.
There are various severities of scalp psoriasis as well. Sometimes you may only suffer from a mild case of scalp psoriasis, which you may be able to easily manage with home treatments. It can appear anywhere in the affected areas, but not be too painful or intrusive.
Other times you may suffer from a severe flare-up, which can be both painful and unpleasant appearance. Often, when you have a severe flare-up, it's better to go to the doctor so they can take a look and potentially prescribe you medicated treatments instead of home treatments, which tend to have a faster impact on lighter cases.
How scalp psoriasis occurs is through incorrect immune system signals. Your immune system sends signals to your skin cells on your scalp, and they multiply rapidly, which causes the build-up of skin lesions in the area. But why does this occur?
What Causes Scalp Psoriasis?
As is often the case with any type of psoriasis — there's no hard and fast information around what are the primary causes of scalp psoriasis. There are many things thought to trigger scalp psoriasis, and it's all quite a process of elimination when flare-ups occur at this stage until further research uncovers more evidence. Here are a few of the considered causes of scalp psoriasis.
Stress is one of those things that can manifest even when you don't realize, and when you're under stress, your body and your health can take a blow too. Stress is considered to be one of the triggers of psoriasis, and it's even more stressful because once you're suffering from it, you tend to get more stressed about it, which makes it even harder to manage it.
It can be helpful to identify what may be causing the increased levels of stress in your life and see if you can make a plan to reduce this. Although, with many of our jobs, there's not a lot of room to tailor our situation and stress levels during our working hours, but finding a way to cope outside of this period of time can be helpful to help reduce regular flare-ups.
Weakened Immune System
A weakened immune system is especially noticeable when people who have psoriasis get sick often with something like a cold or strep throat. When the immune system is weakened, it can be a sign of a correlation between this and a scalp psoriasis flare-up.
There is some research behind the connection between smoking and increased chances of suffering from psoriasis. It also appears that there may be a higher risk for women who smoke.
According to research, there's also a correlation between the length of time a person smokes and the risk of suffering psoriasis. The longer the period of smoking, the higher the risk of suffering from psoriasis.
Alcohol is likely to trigger psoriasis and also interrupt any psoriasis treatment. It is known to affect your immune system, and considering psoriasis is an autoimmune disease, having a weakened immune system can mean psoriasis is more likely to flare-up.
Skin Cuts and Injuries
A situation where something as small as suffering from a graze or a mosquito bite can trigger the onset of psoriasis is often known as the Koebner phenomenon. It essentially means that if your skin is injured, it can trigger a psoriasis flare-up to appear in that location.
For example, if your scalp is scratched or irritated, the risk of suffering from a psoriasis flare-up in that location increases significantly. It's likely to occur in one out of every four people who have psoriasis.