Psoriasis Hair Loss: Understand the Condition

Monali Sharma
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Psoriasis Hair Loss

Psoriasis is a skin disorder in which skin cells grow in days rather than weeks and build up into patches.

Most often, Psoriasis affects the scalp or is the first location where the condition develops.

This skin disorder is not uncommon. 

It affects about 7.5 million people in the US. And roughly half of those suffering from scalp Psoriasis at any given time.

Although most people with Psoriasis experience hair loss, it is essential to note that the disorder itself does not cause hair loss.

Its symptoms can trigger hair loss and may aggravate it without proper treatment.

Fortunately, Psoriasis hair loss is temporary and will return to normal once you start the treatment.

Read this article to know about hair loss from Psoriasis in detail and your treatment options.

Psoriasis and hair loss

If the disorder mostly affects the scalp, the condition is called scalp Psoriasis.

It is not known why the scalp is so susceptible to Psoriasis.

However, researchers believe one possible reason is the scalp’s high follicular density.

It reduces exposure to natural light, particularly UV rays, which can help clear or prevent Psoriasis.

“Psoriasis is an inflammatory condition, and when the scalp is inflamed, the hair follicles [where hair is produced] can be affected.”

says Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Trauma to the scalp can exacerbate from scratching or picking at the plaques, also triggering or aggravating hair loss.

Psoriasis causes inflammation, which, in turn, increases the itching, creating an ever-worsening cycle.

However, thankfully, this cycle rarely leads to scarring.

Also, hair loss from Psoriasis is only temporary. Once you start a treatment for the condition, your hair thinning will reduce.

Some medications, like DMARD (Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drug), are used to treat this disorder. They are also associated with hair loss.

However, your hair loss will also reduce once you discontinue the medication use.

Psoriasis hair loss symptoms

Psoriasis Hair Loss SymptomsSource: Doucefleur_from_Getty_Images
Itchy Scalp – Psoriasis Hair Loss Symptoms

Psoriasis symptoms can vary from mild to severe.

But, most often, its symptoms are mild and can exacerbate if left untreated.

If your symptoms are mild, you may have dandruff-like flakes that are not noticeable.

Symptoms of moderate to severe scalp psoriasis include

  • Scaly, red, or purple bumpy patches
  • Dry scalp
  • Itching 
  • Silvery white or gray scales
  • Burning or soreness
  • Irritation and pain
  • Hair loss

It is essential to note that Psoriasis itself doesn’t cause hair loss

But scratching your scalp or picking at the scales, harsh treatments, and the stress caused by it can lead to temporary hair loss.

Severe Psoriasis can sometimes cause thick and inflamed plaques, even visible through your hair.

In addition to the scalp, plaques can cover nearby areas, including the back of the neck, forehead, and skin around the ears.

In addition to these symptoms, patients with Psoriasis show an increased risk of mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and stress.

Researchers suggest these reasons are social and workplace stigmatization, self-esteem difficulties, and body image.

Therefore, current Psoriasis management includes screening for mental and psychosocial stress too.

Diagnosis and treatment of Psoriasis hair loss

To diagnose the condition, your doctor may perform several tests to rule out the conditions that cause the same symptoms.

The tests may include allergy tests, biopsies, and blood tests. These tests are performed to check for signs of rash unrelated to Psoriasis.

Your doctor will also ask about your family history, symptoms, and if you have recently stopped or started taking medication or using a hair product.

Although its symptoms seem severe and painful, the good thing is there are several effective treatment options available.

Topical treatments

If your condition is not severe, your doctor may recommend topical treatments.

Treatments, such as corticosteroids, work to normalize cell production. 

They are often used in combination with phototherapy and systemic and targeted medications.

Steroids are prescription based and are available in the form of creams, foams, and ointments.

Moreover, shampoos, oils, and sprays are available to treat scalp Psoriasis.

Warning
Because topical therapy can cause friction and breakage of the hair, it is important to apply the medication only to the roots.

Steroid injections

If your condition is severe or the plaques are very thick and scaly, your doctor may suggest steroid injections.

These injections are administered directly to the affected area on the scalp.

Although these injections can be painful, they can address the condition and are more effective.

This treatment is also more compatible with people’s hairstyles and hair-care practices.

Phototherapy

Phototherapy uses certain types of light for treatment.

Usually, Ultraviolet B (UVB) light can help with scalp Psoriasis.

The treatment helps slow down the rapidly growing skin cells, reduce inflammation, and suppress the overly active immune system.

It also reduces the itch and allows the skin to heal.

While phototherapy is considered safe, you may experience some side effects immediately after the therapy, including

  • Mild stinging or burning
  • Dark spots on the skin
  • Red or tender skin
  • Blisters

Before going for phototherapy treatment, do not apply salicylic acid that is used to treat psoriasis scale. It can make UVB therapy less effective.

Prevention and management of Psoriasis hair loss

Prevention for Psoriasis HairlossSource: MikeSaran_from_Getty_Images
Psoriasis Hairloss

Unfortunately, you can not prevent Psoriasis.

However, maintaining a healthy diet can avoid or limit scalp Psoriasis flare-ups.

You can include food with anti-inflammatory properties in your daily diet.

Try to include the following foods in your meals,

  • Oily fish, including mackerel, salmon, or sardines
  • Olive oil
  • Leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach

In addition to including foods with anti-inflammatory properties, avoid certain foods and drinks that may cause flare-ups.

To alleviate the symptoms, it is recommended to avoid the following

  • Alcohol
  • Dairy products
  • Foods with gluten, like wheat
  • Nightshade vegetables, including peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes
  • Citrus fruits, including oranges, limes, and lemons

Apart from your regular diet changes, some lifestyle changes can also help reduce the severity of your condition.

As mentioned earlier, UV light helps control the condition. Hence, some exposure to sunlight can also aid in relieving the symptoms of Psoriasis.

Conclusion

Psoriasis is a chronic condition that speeds up new cell growth causing the skin to build up.

If it predominantly affects the scalp, it is called scalp Psoriasis.

It can cause temporary hair loss, but hair grows back once psoriasis symptoms subside.

There are several treatment options for you, depending on the severity of the condition.

You can also try some home remedies to relieve the symptoms. However, it’ll not cure the underlying disease.

Living with scalp Psoriasis can be difficult for an individual’s self-esteem and may cause psychosocial problems.

Therefore, trying some coping strategies, such as stress-relieving activities or talking with someone, becomes essential.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Will hair loss from Psoriasis grow back?

Yes. Psoriasis hair loss is temporary. Most often, this disease targets your scalp. It can cause irritation and itch triggering hair loss. When your skin begins to heal, your symptoms and hair loss will subside.

How can I stop hair loss from Psoriasis?

The best way to prevent hair loss is to treat the condition. Psoriasis itself does not cause hair loss. It is the result of the condition’s symptoms. Once you start the proper treatment, symptoms will begin to reduce, and so will your Psoriasis hair loss.

Can Psoriasis make your hair fall out?

Yes. Psoriasis causes inflammation in the affected area, especially the scalp. It makes your skin itchy and inflamed, which is responsible for your hair to fall out. The skin can become thick and form plaques if your condition is severe. Picking at such sensitive skin can cause more inflammation and hair loss.

What heals Psoriasis naturally?

Although no single method exists to treat psoriasis, you can try some remedies to relieve the symptoms. Psoriasis makes your skin dry; hence, using moisturizers helps manage the irritation. Stress is also known to flare up the condition. Therefore some stress-relieving activities can reduce the severity of the disease.

Is Psoriasis 100% curable?

No. Psoriasis is a chronic inflammatory condition with no cure. Treatments are available to aid in painful symptoms but will not completely treat the condition. 

Citations:
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