Possible Complications With Scalp Psoriasis
Psoriasis on the scalp is generally superficial in nature, but in some cases, the itching, flaking and dryness can lead to more serious problems:
- Infection. The urge to scratch can be irresistible, and excessive scratching can break the skin, leaving it prone to infection. If you’re aggravating your scalp to the point of bleeding, you’ll need to adjust your hair care and management routine.
- Hair loss. Frequent scratching and picking can lead to temporary hair loss, but the hair most often grows back. Scalp psoriasis does not cause permanent balding.
- Low self-esteem. In many cases, the embarrassing flaking can affect confidence and self-esteem, sometimes to the point of depression. It can help to talk with other psoriasis sufferers about coping with the physical effects of the condition, and find ways to stay positive.
How Is Scalp Psoriasis Treated?
There’s no universal treatment for scalp psoriasis, but there are several possible ways to reduce or eradicate the symptoms.
For example, there are many options for people to try at home, which tends to work better for less severe cases that are a bit easier to manage. There is also a range of medicated treatments that can be prescribed by doctors that can be used to treat more severe cases of scalp psoriasis flare-ups.
Home Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis
Considering it's a lot harder to keep your scalp moisturized, these natural remedies can help to ease the itch and remove some of the inflammation and scales.
Although not the most pleasant-smelling product (some may disagree), coal tar is known to help reduce redness and take some of the sting out of scalp psoriasis.
Coal tar can be poured directly into a bath, which you just soak in for several minutes, or you can apply it directly to the affected areas to help reduce inflammation. Also, be sure not to leave coal tar on your skin and remove it after a few minutes.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a great natural remedy for scalp psoriasis itch. You do have to be careful with how it's applied as it can burn if not used correctly and carefully. To reduce the risk of burning, try to mix the apple cider vinegar with equal parts of water. Then you can apply the apple cider vinegar remedy to the irritated area to try to reduce the itch or itchiness.
When you want to loosen and remove the scales caused by scalp psoriasis and relieve psoriasis-related itchiness, using Epsom salts can be a natural go-to treatment. The best way to use Epsom salts is to add them to a warm bath and soak in the tub for a while.
Turmeric is known for its anti-inflammatory qualities. It has been used in traditional medicines to reduce many of the issues related to scalp psoriasis, including inflammation and skin issues. There are many ways to use turmeric, from cooking, drinking to taking it in a supplement form.
There's an array of medicated psoriasis treatment options. These come in the forms of topical lotions right through to oral medications.
In order to get the outbreak under control, first try to dissolve and remove the scales. Shampoos containing tar and salicylic acid are the most effective, working with the water to soften and break up the thickened skin.
Once the plaques are loosened, gentle combing should free them from the hair. You can continue to use medicated shampoo twice weekly to prevent future flare-ups.
There are various topical treatments, and often doctors will suggest alternating between a couple of types of topical treatments.
I've found that with my scalp psoriasis, alternating between a steroid ointment and hydrocortisone cream tends to work best for me. I'm not continually applying steroids to my skin, but my treatment tends to allow for my skin to heal rapidly.
Oral medications like corticosteroids, cyclosporine or methotrexate can suppress the overactive immune response that’s causing your psoriasis outbreak. However, they do bring with them the risk of side effects, like liver damage and psychological changes, so close monitoring is crucial.
The most recent additions to psoriasis treatment are biologics, medications that can help prevent the overproduction of skin cells that lead to skin plaques and scales. Biologic drugs are typically delivered by injection or infusion.
In this form of treatment, ultraviolet light is administered carefully to the skin under controlled situations. Exposure to UV light is considered to be good for psoriasis, but it's not ideal to go and lie in the sun for long periods of time. This form of treatment should be carried out by a medical professional.
How to Cope With Scalp Psoriasis
There are many ways to cope with scalp psoriasis. It all depends on who you are as a person and which approach you'd like to explore further. Thankfully, there are so many ways to cope with and get on with your life even with scalp psoriasis that most aren't also listed. It's all about what feels right for you.
Practice Relaxation and Reduce Stress
One thing to remember with psoriasis is that it doesn't respond well to stress. To speed up recovery time, and to ensure your scalp psoriasis flare-up doesn't get any worse, it's important to practice self-care, and ensure your body is getting plenty of time to relax and repair.
To practice relaxation, you could consider looking into yoga or meditation. Both of these can help to calm your mindset and encourage exercise and mindfulness. There's a lot of focus on controlling your breathing, and in doing so, you can help to reduce the amount of stress your body feels.
Work on Your Confidence
This one can be easier said than done, especially when you're dealing with a particularly visible and painful flare-up of scalp psoriasis.
Often, when I'm dealing with a flare-up of this nature, I tend to wear my hair down, and if the season is cool enough, wear a scarf to hide any flare-up on my neck. Other times I can't be bothered with this maintenance and decide to grin and bear any looks I may get.
Having confidence in your appearance is so important. It will remind you that you're not your flare-up and that it is only temporary.
Lastly, with confidence comes knowledge. If you're confident enough to be able to continue on while your flare-up is visible, it may be a good chance to educate those who may ask what it is about scalp psoriasis.
As mentioned, a scalp psoriasis flare-up isn't permanent. A flare-up will come and go, every time with different levels of severity. The thing to keep in mind is that this flare-up isn't forever. You will get past this one with time and patience.
By staying calm and patient, and with the right combination of treatments, you may find that your scalp psoriasis flare-up will ease faster.
The Bottom Line...
Living with scalp psoriasis can be physically and emotionally challenging, and although it’s a chronic disease that will call for long-term management, you don’t have to deal with constant flare-ups. Work with your doctor and a dermatologist to adapt your treatment plan according to your changing needs and you’ll very likely be able to keep the symptoms under control.