Psoriasis Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition which can affect skin anywhere on the body, although it is usually most common on the knees, elbows and scalp. Patients can also have psoriasis on the fingernails. Psoriasis can affect anyone, male or female, at any age and may come and go at different points of your life.
What are the symptoms of Psoriasis?
The main symptoms of psoriasis are red, scaly skin and thick white or yellow patches of scales, or ‘plaques’ that develop in affected areas. Psoriasis can be itchy, painful and sore, and sometimes the skin can crack and bleed. Patients with psoriasis of the scalp often describe a thickened crust or cap on their scalp, which feels sore, itchy or inflamed. In extreme cases, psoriasis may affect the entire scalp and cause some hair loss. Many patients explain that they feel embarrassed by the ‘powder-like’ skin they leave on surfaces that they come into contact with.
If the skin is particularly itchy, patients may pick or scratch the scales, which can cause infection. Sometimes those with more severe cases of psoriasis experience depression as a result, often due to feeling embarrassed about the appearance of the skin.
What are the causes of Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is caused by an overproduction of skin cells, which causes the patches of scales to build up. Although the exact cause of this condition is unknown, it may be related to the immune system. It is believed that both hereditary and environmental factors cause psoriasis, so if your relatives have psoriasis, it is more likely that you will have it too.
Psoriasis is not infectious and cannot be passed to someone else, nor is it related to having dry skin.
What is the treatment of Psoriasis?
Although psoriasis is a long-term chronic condition, there are ways to manage the condition and keep it under control.
The most common method for treating psoriasis is a topical treatment, such as creams, gels or ointments applied directly to the affected areas. Some people may wish to look into phototherapy (ultraviolet light treatment), tablets or injections.
Although psoriasis cannot currently be cured, patients are encouraged to follow a treatment plan to manage symptoms and reduce the number of plaques on the skin. It is important to note that because psoriasis is not caused by dry skin, applying oils or tea tree treatments to affected areas, including the scalp, will not only have no effect but may even worsen the condition.
Treating psoriasis depends on what your skin is used to, what you have used before and other health issues that need to be considered. Like other scalp conditions, each patient is treated individually on a case-by-case basis.
Here at Sussex Trichology, we will provide a full assessment and diagnosis, before discussing a home treatment plan unique to your needs. We will also look at your diet and lifestyle to identify positive changes that can be made to improve the condition.
Psoriasis Before & After Photos
The following are some psoriasis pictures showing the scalp before and after treatment.
What foods trigger psoriasis flare-ups?
Psoriasis is an autoimmune condition which can be triggered – and worsened – by internal/medical reasons. Diet can also play a part in triggering psoriasis. Lifestyle choices, stress and washing habits are more likely to exacerbate psoriasis as well. During your consultation at Sussex Trichology, Shuna will gently ask questions to ascertain the correct diagnosis and guide you on washing frequency, technique and diet choices to reduce inflammation.
Omega-3 can help manage conditions that affect the skin and scalp. Sometimes the diet is rich enough in Omega-3, but occasionally a supplement may be recommended to further boost the diet. Vitamin D also plays a part in this discussion, but patients should take blood tests before beginning to take supplements. Shuna will guide you on which supplements to take and how often.
In some cases, acidic foods such as citrus fruits and white wine may worsen a pre-existing scalp condition. However, in Shuna’s experience, this is rarely the reason psoriasis occurs in the first place. This is much more likely to be due to a virus, high temperature or stress triggering the autoimmune system, that causes a scalp condition with a higher skin cell turnover on the scalp.
Does drinking water help to treat psoriasis?
Drinking water is not enough to treat psoriasis. The body must be well-hydrated for general health and to allow the tissues and organs to properly grow and function, but water alone will not cure psoriasis or improve the visible appearance of the scales on the scalp. Psoriasis causes overlapping thickened scales of skin on the scalp that can feel itchy and sore. The most important thing our resident trichologist Shuna advises is regular hair washing and use of anti-inflammatories. This is the area we excel in, as explaining and demonstrating a thorough use of the prescribed home treatment plan is what will improve and maintain your scalp in the long-term.
What does seborrhoea dermatitis look like?
This scaling condition on the scalp can appear red and inflamed, scaly, oily and even cause little pustules to develop. It can feel itchy, sore and even painful, as if the scalp is bruised. Unfortunately, this is a chronic condition, therefore while a trichologist can help you to improve the appearance and annoying sensation caused by this condition, it will always be present to a degree.
To treat seborrheic dermatitis, you may need to adjust your diet, cleansing habits, products used and lifestyle. This is an individual approach, as no two patients diagnosed with this condition are the same. There are some medications that can help manage the condition, including the correct contraceptives for women who wish to take them.
Does apple cider vinegar help seborrheic dermatitis?
Yes, it can help as part of the treatment process. A concentration of one-part vinegar to ten-parts water can improve symptoms on a short-term basis. For long-term support, apple cider vinegar can be used as part of a holistic approach, which an experienced trichologist can offer you guidance on.
When choosing a trichologist, it is important to check that they have the right qualifications. Shuna Hammocks is an MIT, or Member of the Institute of Trichologists. You can verify this and how each member updates their knowledge with CPD points on the Sussex Trichology website.
Seborrheic dermatitis is chronic and will require long-term management. Questions about your diet, lifestyle, cleansing habits, family history and medication will form part of your consultation. Most people with this condition are advised to use various creams and special medicated shampoo and lotions.