Psoriasis and hair loss
Psoriasis is an extremely common condition that affects many individuals around the world, often resulting in inflamed, scaly and irritable skin – and around 50% of all sufferers endure the ailment on their scalp according to the US National Psoriasis Foundation.
While other forms of the disorder can exhibit themselves in areas such as the elbows and knees, it is often scalp psoriasis that causes the most emotional, and visible damage to those who suffer from the complaint.
What is psoriasis?
While its exact cause is still unknown, psoriasis is identified as an auto-immune disorder that causes accelerated development of the sub-dermal skin cells that, in healthy people, help to replace the dead cells from the surface that are naturally shedded. With psoriasis, these cells rise through the dermal layers before the necessary shedding occurs, causing a dense build-up of thickened skin that becomes cracked and leads to immense discomfort.
How are psoriasis and hair loss linked?
This ‘thickening’ of the skin or ‘plaque’ is a result of the high density of cells vying for space, and on the scalp, this tight scaling can affect both the ability of the follicles to produce hair, as well as the diameter of the hairs that do manage to grow, leading to breakages and the appearance of thinning.
Scalp psoriasis is often mistaken for either dandruff or pityriasis amiantacea – which often exhibits the same symptoms but must be treated differently. While these conditions are not always completely curable, there are a number of steps that can be taken to reduce the likelihood of their return.
How can I rid myself of psoriasis and hair loss symptoms?
The thinning of hair itself is simply a symptom and is completely reversible in nearly all cases, however, to ensure that your psoriasis and hair loss are a thing of the past and do not reoccur, certain lifestyle changes are suggested by skincare professionals:
– Try avoiding cold weather, or ensuring that your skin is covered sufficiently during the winter months as this can help prevent excessing cracking or irritation.
– Use shampoos that contain higher levels of natural ingredients as opposed to cheaper, preservative-laden alternatives.
– Avoid both smoking and alcohol – while little research has been carried out in regard to the relationship between these habits and psoriasis, dermatologists have found that they increase the likelihood of developing the condition.
– Large amounts of stress in your daily life have been shown to affect your immune system, and as psoriasis is an auto-immune condition, its intensity can be exacerbated if you are unable to relax and unwind.
– Try to eat healthily and – as hard as it can be sometimes – avoid scratching as this will simply cause the area to become inflamed and ultimately lead to further irritation.
Are there are medications for scalp psoriasis?
If you are unfortunate enough to be suffering from the disorder and lifestyle changes have failed to show any improvement, there are a number of medical remedies that can help you banish the symptoms for good:
– Over-the-counter medications such as salicylic acid and coal tar have been proven to be very successful in the treatment of milder cases of psoriasis.*
– Stronger prescription-based medications such as topical steroids, ingestible corticosteroids as well as cyclosporine or methotrexate are known to be excellent treatments for severe psoriasis, but must be administered by a doctor as excessive amounts can lead to acute liver damage.*
– Newer medications such as biologics can be administered by health professionals either intravenously or via injection – although many of these medications are still under review with regard to their effectiveness against psoriasis and hair loss.*
*Always seek medical advice before taking medication
If you are worried that you are experiencing hair loss as a result of psoriasis, it is always advisable to visit your GP or dermatologist to discuss the options that are available to you. However, we will always be available to provide additional support and offer a number of different therapies to help you recover from psoriasis-based hair loss, so please book a consultation with the Hair Growth Studio if you’d like advice from a different perspective