Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes skin cells to gather on the surface of the skin. The result is scaly, red patches that may itch or burn throughout various areas of the body. The severity of this condition typically varies from case to case with some sufferers experiencing mild breakouts and others having severe episodes. It is estimated that 7.5 million people in America are affected by the skin condition with many of these individuals experiencing breakouts on the scalp, along with other regions of the body. When referring the outbreaks that occur on the scalp, it is referred to as scalp psoriasis. For many, this condition is both painful and embarrassing as the itchy scales and patches that form cause shedding that closely resembles dandruff.
Scalp Psoriasis Versus Dandruff
While scalp psoriasis may look like dandruff, there are some clear distinctions between the two. Dandruff is generally a temporary and fleeting condition. It may be caused by a fungus, seborrheic dermatitis, dry skin or as the result of a reaction to a hair care product. Dandruff is flaky, small and typically white in appearance. Scalp psoriasis, on the other hand, is a chronic condition that likely is a frequent and persistent problem. The affected areas will have a more silvery, scaly appearance that results in larger, thicker scales than dandruff. Although both can result in an itchy and flaky scalp, dandruff is generally not a painful experience while scalp psoriasis, in moderate to severe conditions, may be associated with significant itching and pain.
Affected Areas of Scalp Psoriasis
While many who are affected by psoriasis experience breakouts in many regions of the body, it is crucial to understand that psoriasis can, and frequently does, appear only on the scalp. In extreme cases, the rash may extend down the back of the neck or forward to reach the forehead. This, however, is rare and most cases of scalp psoriasis do not reach beyond the hairline. The rash can be evenly dispersed throughout the entire scalp or may be more prominent in the back, sides or along the hairline. If you are experiencing intense itching, what appears to be severe dandruff or even episodes of bleeding on the scalp, you may be suffering from scalp psoriasis.
Hair Loss and Scalp Psoriasis
Other conditions, such as hair loss, are commonly believed to be linked to scalp psoriasis, however, there is no direct correlation between the two. If you believe you have scalp psoriasis and are also losing your hair, be sure to avoid scratching. Scratching an itchy scalp can lead to further irritation, bleeding or infection, but it also weakens the hair shafts, making you more prone to hair loss. If this is not the case, be sure to further investigate the cause of your hair loss.
Treatment Options for Scalp Psoriasis
Most commonly, scalp psoriasis is treated with a variety of over-the-counter topical treatments. While these topical solutions can provide some relief, they typically are not strong enough to completely alleviate discomfort and eliminate the rash altogether. For moderate to severe cases, a prescription product will often be required to rid yourself of the bothersome symptoms.
Psoriasis Treatment Research Studies in San Diego
If you are battling scalp psoriasis or suspect you might be, contact the professionals at the California Dermatology & Clinical Research Institute to secure an accurate diagnosis and explore your treatment options. Give us a call at (760) 203-3839 to join a psoriasis treatment research study in San Diego.