I have discussed many hair and scalp diseases in my blogs. It is important to be careful about the symptoms so that the conditions can be treated before they get serious. In this article, I will discuss scalp psoriasis, which is known to affect 2.2% of adults. It is a common disorder which results in skin inflammation and itching. It is also seen in children, but peaks when the child is 5-8 years of age.
Psoriasis causes itchy scalp and skin conditions accompanied by scaling. The primary symptoms are red scales, which merge into plaques. Psoriasis affects other parts of the body where there are folds of the skin, such as elbows and knees, but can be seen on anywhere on the body as well as the scalp. The scales and the plaques produce itch and it is very uncomfortable for the sufferer. Severe itch and scratching will cause loss of hair.
Since the skin appears affected and diseased, psoriasis leads to psychological trauma. The affected person will avoid social contact and even sexual relations because the skin looks so bad. This may lead to severe psychological problems in patients, such as isolation and depression.
Psoriasis occurs due to a disorder in the body’s the auto-immune system. The body’s immunity system mistakenly signals the growth cycle of the skin cells, which grow faster than required and the excess skin cells accumulate on the scalp and other parts of the body. It can affect both adults and children. It may be hereditary and caused by one’s genes. The genes affect the immune system. Some families are known to have a history of autoimmune disorders. But the condition may be caused by illnesses, medicines and stress as well.
The symptoms of psoriasis are visible to the naked eye. If it is mild, the scaling is slight and fine. Other symptoms are a slightly raised scalp that appears reddish with scaly patches. The scalp may show a single patch or many of them, and often the entire scalp may be affected. It can sometimes be seen on the forehead, on the back of the neck, and behind and inside the ears. It can also affect other parts of the body as well. It is a debilitating disease and affects the self esteem of the person because it cannot be hidden.
Severe scalp psoriasis becomes obvious because of scaly, red and bumpy scalp, flaking as in dandruff, dryness, itching, irritation, burning and discomfort. Scalp psoriasis does not cause hair loss, but scratching may lead to temporary hair loss. If the condition is controlled and treated, the hair will usually grow back.
That is why it is important to seek medical help the moment you notice these symptoms. The doctor will examine the scalp and may also conduct a skin biopsy.
Treatment consists of using a medicated shampoo, cream or lotion that is prescribed. Medicated soaps and lotions are also available. These will cure the scalp if the condition is mild but other medicines will be required if the disease is advanced. The medicines usually consist of salicylic acid or coal tar. Other medicines that are currently available consist of antimicrobials, which can cure scalp infections, vitamin A and D derivatives, and steroids. Since the disease is cured by ultraviolet rays, patients are also advised to stand in sunlight for short periods.
The medicines that are prescribed must be applied on the scalp directly. The growth of hair may hinder the direct application of the medicine, but patients must ensure that the scalp is treated. Regular use is advised because it takes 2 months or more for them to be effective. Once cured, the patient must use medicated shampoo regularly to ensure that the disease does not relapse.
Another line of treatment consists of injecting steroids directly into the affected areas. Phototherapy has also been tried and helps in this condition. Use of a UV comb that uses ultraviolet light is used to treat scalp conditions.
Patients are advised to be careful while using the medicines as they have side effects such as liver damage. That is why it is important to use them only under medical guidance. The doctor may also prescribe lotions to soothe the scalp while stopping use of oil, which may aggravate the condition. Patients should refrain from self-medication.
Care must also be taken about one’s diet too. Patients are advised to eat less saturated fat, and avoid trans-fats altogether. They must have a diet that is low in salt and carbohydrates, avoiding processed foods and refined sugars, which contain high levels of sodium and preservatives. A healthy and nutritious diet must be followed.
If you notice symptoms of scalp psoriasis, the important thing to do is to stop your desire to scratch, which will only aggravate the problem. Seek medical attention immediately and follow the instructions of the doctor. Do not use self-medication. Fortunately, the disease can be cured by medications and the hair loss that one may have experienced is recovered.