Scalp psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition of the skin that affects the scalp. Manifesting as raised, reddened, and often scaly patches, it can be both painful and embarrassing for those who have it. Although there is no definitive cure for psoriasis, there are ways to manage the symptoms and keep outbreaks to a minimum. This article delves into understanding scalp psoriasis and provides guidance on how to approach treatment.
1. Understanding Scalp Psoriasis
1.1. What is it?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition caused by an overactive immune system. When it affects the scalp, it can result in thick, red patches covered by silvery scales. It’s not a result of poor hygiene and is not contagious.
1.2. What triggers it?
Several factors can trigger or exacerbate scalp psoriasis, including:
- Cold weather
- Certain medications
- Alcohol and tobacco
2. Treatment Options
2.1. Topical Treatments
These are medications that you apply directly to the affected area of the scalp.
- Topical corticosteroids: These are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that reduce inflammation and control the rapid growth of cells.
- Coal tar: An older treatment, coal tar can help reduce scaling, itching, and inflammation.
- Topical retinoids: Derived from Vitamin A, they can help to reduce inflammation.
2.2. Light Therapy
This involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet (UV) light under the supervision of a dermatologist.
- UVB phototherapy: Controlled doses of UVB light from an artificial light source can help treat moderate to severe scalp psoriasis.
- Laser Therapy: This targets only the involved skin, sparing the surrounding healthy skin from exposure.
2.3. Systemic Medications
For more severe cases of scalp psoriasis, oral or injected medications may be prescribed.
- Methotrexate: An oral drug that suppresses the immune system.
- Cyclosporine: Immune-suppressing drug used for severe psoriasis.
- Biologics: Injected or intravenous (IV) medicines made from living cells that target specific parts of the immune system.
2.4. Shampoos and OTC Products
Medicated shampoos containing coal tar or salicylic acid can help alleviate symptoms. Regular use can help with descaling and reduce itching.
3. Lifestyle and Home Remedies
- Daily baths: Using lukewarm water and mild shampoos can help soothe the skin and remove scales.
- Oils and moisturizers: After your bath, moisturizing can help prevent dryness and reduce the formation of scales.
- Avoiding triggers: Stress, smoking, and alcohol can exacerbate symptoms, so avoiding these can help in management.
- Healthy diet and lifestyle: Eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, and engaging in regular physical activity can possibly help manage symptoms.
While there’s currently no permanent cure for scalp psoriasis, a combination of medical treatments, lifestyle changes, and home remedies can effectively manage symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected. It’s essential for patients to work closely with their dermatologists to find the best individualized treatment plan.