What is psoriasis of the scalp?
Scalp psoriasis is a chronic, noncontagious, inflammatory skin condition that occurs on the scalp, causing itching, redness, and flaking. It can extend beyond the scalp onto the forehead.
What causes scalp psoriasis?
Psoriasis has the same cause, no matter where it forms. It develops when a person’s immune system malfunctions and tells skin cells to grow too quickly. New skin cells form in days rather than weeks.
The body does not shed these excess skin cells. The skin cells pile up on the surface of the skin, causing patches of psoriasis to appear. This process ultimately leads to the redness and flaking on the scalp.
Signs and symptoms of scalp psoriasis
The most common complaint is a dry, flaky, red scalp with occasional itchiness. Many people find that it worsens with stress and after some infections. Other common symptoms of psoriasis of the scalp include:
- Reddish patches on the scalp, sometimes thick and inflamed
- Dandruff-like flaking and silvery-white scale that looks like dandruff
- Dry scalp that may crack and bleed
- Mild to intense itching
- Burning sensation or soreness
- Temporary hair loss
Treatment for psoriasis of the scalp
Your dermatologist can treat mild scalp psoriasis with topical (skin-based) medications. For more stubborn cases, oral or injectable treatments are also effective but may have side effects including increased infections.
At UCLA Dermatology, our specialists may recommend one or more of the following:
- Topical medications applied to the scalp, such as tar shampoos and steroid sprays, creams and solutions
- Medicated shampoos
- Scale softeners
- Light treatments
- Oral or injected medications that boost the immune system
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (310) 825-6911.