People with psoriasis are susceptible to scalp psoriasis. Crusted scaly scalp, itchiness, and sore skin are some of its common symptoms. It can be treated with the help of topical creams, lotions, gel, and medicated shampoos. Here we will discuss the treatment options and self-care measures in detail, to manage the condition in its early stage.
Scalp psoriasis is a skin disorder that can cause thick, red, itchy patches on the scalp. About 50% of the patients with psoriasis develop scalp psoriasis. It may occur with or without other forms of psoriasis. It mainly affects the back of the head; however, it can also affect multiple distinct areas of the scalp or even the entire scalp. Under mild conditions, you will observe light scaling on some parts of the scalp, whereas in severe cases there will be thick crusted scales all over the scalp.
How is Scalp Psoriasis Treated
A number of treatment options can help in controlling the symptoms of scalp psoriasis. The treatment is aimed at relieving the signs and symptoms, and controlling flare-ups. It includes the use of topical medications, medicated shampoos, and phototherapy. Topical therapy includes corticosteroids, tazarotene, anthralin, calcipotriol/calcipotriene, and tars. Topical medications are available in the form of creams, lotions, ointments, gels, foams, and shampoos.
These medications can be applied once or twice daily, for several weeks or months. However, treatment and recovery time may vary from person to person. It depends upon the severity, response towards the medicines, whether the person has psoriasis on other parts of the body and on the length and volume of the hair. Following are some of the treatments which may be prescribed by the doctor.
Corticosteroids such as betamethasone, clobetasol, fluocinolone acetonide or hydrocortisone are the most commonly used treatment. They come in the form of lotions, gels, creams, foams, and shampoos, which can be used safely for a prolonged period. If the scalp psoriasis is mild, involving only a few areas, then intralesional steroid injections in the scalp areas are recommended.
Anthralin is also another effective medication. Apply 0.25% or 0.5% anthralin on the scalp and leave it for about 30 minutes. Then wash it off. Topical tazarotene is a retinoid resembling the properties of vitamin A. Apply a thin layer of the gel form of tazarotene to the scalp patches and leave it overnight. This medication should be avoided during pregnancy.
Salicylic acid is an active ingredient used in several topical ointments. It can help to loosen the scales and relieve itching. However, this treatment is useful in mild scalp psoriasis. Another effective treatment is a coconut compound ointment. It consists of a combination of salicylic acid, coal tar, and sulfur. This ointment is rubbed over the affected areas and left overnight. It can be washed off with a medicated shampoo the next morning.
Calcipotriene is a synthetic Vitamin D derivative that is effective in arresting rapid growth of skin cells (which is a common phenomenon in psoriasis). However, unlike natural Vitamin D, calcipotriene does not interfere with normal calcium metabolism.
Medicated shampoos are quite effective. Coal tar shampoos are found to be useful for most patients. These shampoos consist of various active ingredients, which help relieve itching and removes scales from the scalp. To achieve good results, rub the shampoo on the scalp and leave it for about 5-10 minutes or as per the instructions given on the bottle. Then rinse it off with warm water as it loosens the skin and remove the scales easily. After shampooing, apply cortisone lotion to the scalp. Regularly comb your hair to remove any scaling. If the scalp is infected by bacteria or fungus, then it can worsen your scalp psoriasis. This can be treated with antimicrobial prescription drugs or antifungal shampoos. The latter can be used once or twice a week.
Ultraviolet light is another effective treatment option. To achieve better results with UV light, you should cut your hair short or shave your head, so that the UV light can reach the scalp. The treatment involves administration of high intensity UV light with the help of a handheld device known as UV comb. This can help remove plaque and repair skin. Natural sunlight is also a good source of UV light, so why not go for the free option.
Natural treatment for scalp psoriasis constitutes a combination of herbs and essential oils. Given below are some simple self care measures that can help relieve the symptoms of scalp psoriasis.
- Regularly rinse your scalp with a product that contains sea salts. You can use a shampoo that contains sea salts or mix sea salts in your regular shampoo.
- Regularly massage your hair and scalp with a mixture of jojoba oil and aloe vera.
- Massaging the scalp with chamomile tea oil or olive oil offers soothing relief from the itchiness.
- The use of eucalyptus oil, lavender oil, or neem oil is also beneficial. Neem oil helps stop the itching, while lavender oil is a soothing agent. These oils can also stimulate hair growth.
- Application of a conditioning mask made from olive oil, honey, and avocado can also help in reducing the symptoms.
- Use shampoos that contain jojoba or wheat germ oil. These shampoos will keep your scalp moisturized and healthy.
- Do not scratch the affected area. Limit the use of hair styling appliances like hair dryer, curler, etc., as it will aggravate the condition and will make the scalp even drier.
Symptoms of Scalp Psoriasis
- Visible, silvery-white scales, reddish plaque on the scalp, and dandruff-like flaking.
- The thick scales and redness may also spread to the neck, forehead, and behind the ears. There may be severe itching, soreness of the scalp, tender skin, pain, and a feeling of tightness.
- In severe conditions, there may be temporary hair loss. However, the hair usually grows back after the psoriasis is cured.
- In some cases, there may be a possibility of infections due to scratching and rubbing.
Besides the treatments mentioned above, regular exercise, nutritious diet, and relaxation techniques will help to relieve stress and will improve your health condition, thus contributing a lot in treating scalp psoriasis.