Notice growing red bumps with thick silvery scales on your elbow? See a dermatologist right away, especially if the patches multiply and spread to other areas, as this can be a tell-tale sign of psoriasis.
Categorised as an autoimmune disease, psoriasis is a chronic condition wherein pinkish or reddish patches with white or silvery scales appear on the skin. This non-contagious skin disease can cause discomfort as the rashes can become very itchy and painful.
In psoriasis, skin cells are replaced at a faster rate (it happens in days instead of weeks). Consequently, a build-up of cells on the skin develops. Why this happens is not yet completely understood. However, scientists believe that what occurs here is that the immune system fails to recognise the healthy skin cells and attacks them instead. This is why psoriasis is classified as an autoimmune disorder.
Reports also indicate that genetics plays a role in this skin disease. Basically, those who have a parent with psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing this condition. Similarly, those who have compromised immune systems are more likely to suffer from psoriasis.
An estimated 100 million people suffer from psoriasis globally. This skin condition can affect children and adults. However, its onset usually happens between the ages of 15 and 35 years old.
The patches may appear anywhere in the body, but they tend to first show up on certain areas like the elbows and scalp. In some cases, these reddish, scaly rashes affect only a small section of the body. In others, they cover large areas and consequently, cause extreme discomfort on the patient.
What Is Scalp Psoriasis?
As mentioned earlier, any part of the body can become affected by psoriasis. When it appears on the scalp, it is referred to as scalp psoriasis. The kind of psoriasis found on the scalp is called plaque. Known as the most common type, it accounts for 80% of psoriasis cases. The patches associated with plaque psoriasis are thick, reddish and scaly with a diameter of anywhere between 2 to 10 centimetres.
Scalp psoriasis can be mild, presenting as a single patch affecting a tiny spot on the scalp. It can also be severe – several patches may appear on the scalp and stay there for a long time. Scalp psoriasis is not contagious, but it can spread to nearby body parts like the neck, forehead and ears.
Moreover, the itching can become unbearable and eventually result in hair loss, skin infections and poor quality of life. Just to be clear, the scratching, not scalp psoriasis per se, is what causes the loss of hair. Stress, plucking the scales and strong treatments may also exacerbate the hair loss. The good news is that this problem is usually just temporary. You may experience hair regrowth once your scalp is clear of patches.
Can Scalp Psoriasis Be Treated?
Just like psoriasis in other parts of the body, scalp psoriasis has no cure. The treatments available are meant to manage the symptoms and prevent them from becoming severe. Treating scalp psoriasis involves the use of medications specially formulated to reduce redness and inflammation as well as to slow down the development of certain immune cells.
Treating this scalp problem depends on several factors – the type of psoriasis, its location and its severity. Only a qualified specialist like a board-certified dermatologist can determine these things.
Once an accurate diagnosis has been made, your doctor is going to design a treatment plan that’s appropriate for your condition. Typically, the goals of the treatment are to control the flare-ups, reduce the discomfort, avoid hair loss and prevent the problem from occurring again.
There is no magic treatment for scalp psoriasis. Results are not achieved overnight. It may take months for the psoriasis to clear up. So, be patient and religiously follow your treatment plan.
Worried about scalp psoriasis? We have qualified and experienced specialists who can accurately diagnose your condition. Call us today at 01 6793618!