According to MayoClinic.com, psoriasis is a relatively common skin disorder that causes the build-up of dry, scaly patches of skin on the body and scalp. The dry, scaly patches are often painful and itchy. Excessive scratching of these scales can cause bleeding, which can cause scalp irritation. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, scalp psoriasis often results in hair thinning and loss.
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Scalp psoriasis results in red, itchy portions of the scalp skin which usually results in silver-white scales after they dry up, according to MayoClinic.com. If you itch the scales, you may notice a dandruff-like buildup in your hair, on your shoulders or on your clothing.
Psoriasis results from incorrect functioning of the immune system, where white blood cells that fight infection incorrectly attack healthy skin cells, reacting to them as though they were infected, according to MayoClinic.com. This causes an overproduction of new skin cells. Normal skin cells are replaced over a period of weeks. However, individuals with psoriasis experience new skin cell development in a matter of days. This results in a buildup of skin cells because the old skin cells are not shed quickly enough.
Psoriasis itself does not cause hair thinning and loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Hair loss in individuals with psoriasis results for several reasons. Frequent scratching can cause pulling and stress to the hair follicle, causing it to become weaker, which results in hair loss. Stress related to psoriasis can also be a factor in hair loss, as psoriasis is a stressful condition which can cause the hair follicle to enter the resting phase of growth. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, certain psoriasis treatments, such as salicylic acid, can also cause hair loss. Salicylic acid can weaken the hair shaft, causing it to break off.
Treating scalp psoriasis can be done with a combination of home remedies and dermatological treatments. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, some of these treatments may prevent hair thinning and loss. Gently removing the scales through combing is essential. Picking at the scales can cause alopecia, a type of hair loss, so it is important not to scratch or pick at the scales. Certain over-the-counter medicated shampoos can also help to alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, exposure to natural sunlight can also be helpful in easing scalp psoriasis. If these options are unsuccessful, further treatment by a dermatologist may be required.
According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, certain prescription treatments may be effective at treating scalp psoriasis. Topical treatments include medications that contain vitamin A, such as tazarotene or steroids. Your dermatologist may also recommend injections.