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Dealing with an itchy scalp, even if it’s for a short time, can be irritating. But it is not uncommon. A series of factors can lead to scalp build-up and flare-ups every now and then. One such condition in psoriasis. In this you could get red, itchy and scaly patches on the scalp, elbows, trunk, and knees.
Medically, psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that results in the rapid build-up of skin cells that cause the appearance of scales. These are usually whitish-silver in colour and develop in thick patches; followed by inflammation and redness. If you scratch them, these patches can crack and bleed. Scalp psoriasis feels like having an itchy scalp, which can be very discomforting unless you learn how to manage it.
But don’t worry, we are here to help you. Here’s a complete lowdown on the condition – its causes, symptoms and the best ways to treat it.
Though medical science hasn’t been able to pin-point the exact causes of psoriasis, decades of research hints at one’s genes and immune system as two key factors that trigger this condition.
If there’s an immediate family member who has psoriasis, then it’s likely you might develop it as well.
Let’s get down to the Biology of how this works. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder, which basically means that certain elements in the body cause it to attack itself. In the case of psoriasis, white blood cells known as T cells mistakenly attack your skin cells. Normally, these white blood cells get rid of any invading bacteria and fight off infections. But, when they attack skin cells, cell production goes into overdrive. As a result, this overpopulation of cells has nowhere to go and begin to pile up on the surface of the skin causing inflamed patches to develop. This is what psoriasis looks like.
The condition goes through many cycles - there are flare-ups that can last for weeks or months, and then they subside for a while. But one still can’t accurately predict how long before it is exterminated from your body
Before we move on to finding solutions on how to cure psoriasis, let’s look at the symptoms of scalp psoriasis.
• Hair loss
• Burning or soreness
• Dry scalp
• Scaly, red, bumpy patches
• Silvery-white scales
Looks familiar right? You won’t be faulted to think of the symptoms of psoriasis to be similar to dandruff, since flaking, itching and dry scalp occur in both conditions. However, in psoriasis, these symptoms are not just limited to the scalp; it can affect other parts of the body as well.
Psoriasis hair treatment usually involves the use of topical creams and ointments, light therapy, and medication. The effectiveness of the treatment depends on how severe the condition is and how responsive your body is towards it.
This involves the use of corticosteroids, vitamin D analogues, retinoids, calcineurin inhibitors, salicylic acid, coal tar, Goeckerman therapy, and anthralin. Salicylic acid shampoos and scalp solutions reduce the scaling caused by scalp psoriasis, while coal tar that is available in the form of shampoo, cream, and oil reduces scaling, itching, and inflammation.
Recommended for treating moderate to severe psoriasis. Usually, it is combined or administered on its own, through natural sunlight, controlled doses of UVB broadband light or UVB narrowband, Psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA), and excimer laser. However, this form of treatment tends to have certain side-effects, so be sure to consult your dermatologist beforehand.
These are also recommended to people with moderate to severe psoriasis, when other forms of treatment are not effective. Steroids, retinoids, methotrexate, cyclosporine and biologics are some of the most common medications prescribed in this situation.
Though the treatment depends entirely on the severity and type of psoriasis one has, the usual approach is to start with the mildest treatments (topical creams, ultraviolet light therapy) and then move to the stronger ones, only if it’s necessary. The intention behind these treatments is to find the most effective way to slowdown the cell growth with least possible side-effects.
There are many who vouch that natural treatments for scalp psoriasis work just fine when everything else fails. Plus, these natural remedies might be the potential answer to how to cure psoriasis since these have the least side-effects. In fact, there are certain seaside resorts that offer special programs to people struggling with psoriasis. The following natural remedies are believed to relieve the symptoms of scalp psoriasis:
Make way for everyone’s favourite succulent. Preliminary research suggests that topical creams from the aloe vera plant can alleviate the symptoms of psoriasis.
Dead sea salts, Epsom salts and oilated oatmeal bath are quite helpful when it comes to removing scales and easing itchiness.
Cayenne peppers have been used in traditional medicines since ages. It contains capsaicin, an ingredient that gives them their heat. Plus, this ingredient is also used in pain-relieving gels and creams. It is believed that applying capsaicin cream can relieve itching and skin lesions as well.
Vitamin D, fish oil, milk thistle, Oregon grape, and evening primrose oil are reported to help ease the symptoms of mild psoriasis as per the National Psoriasis Foundation.
It is advisable to use a humidifier to prevent dry skin.
Stress can worsen the symptoms of psoriasis. So, try some stress-reducing activities like yoga and meditation.
Characterised by frequent flare-ups, psoriasis can at times get painful. If you don’t get any respite from the incessant itching, it is advisable to visit a dermatologist at once.
At Head & Shoulders, we don’t produce a shampoo to treat scalp psoriasis. Instead, you should talk to your dermatologist to find out the best treatment for you.
It can get quite challenging to live with a chronic condition. Stick to a healthy hair care routine and shower some love on your tresses with the right hair products after consulting with your doctor. These steps will make this skin condition manageable.