PsoriasisNet Spotlight Article
Plaque (pronounced plak) psoriasis is the most common type of
psoriasis. This type of psoriasis can develop anywhere on the skin.
When it develops on the scalp, people call it “scalp psoriasis.”
common on the scalp. Researchers estimate that at least half (50%)
of the people who have plaque psoriasis will have at least one
flare-up on the scalp.
Signs and Symptoms of
psoriasis can appear anywhere on the scalp. Sometimes one small
patch develops, which can be easy to hide with hair. Scalp psoriasis
also can cover the entire scalp. It can even creep beyond the scalp,
appearing on the forehead, back of the neck, or behind the ears.
The reddish plaques can creep beyond the hairline and
appear behind the ears.
silvery-white scale can cover the entire scalp.
with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology
National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides)
When scalp psoriasis develops, people have one or more of these
signs and symptoms:
Reddish plaque on the scalp. Plaques range from barely noticeable to thick and inflamed.
This often develops on the scalp and can be mistaken for
This is common due to the continual shedding of the new skin
cells. Unlike dandruff, scalp psoriasis causes a silvery sheen
and dry scale on the scalp.
Dry scalp. The
scalp may be so dry that the skin cracks and bleeds.
Itching. This is
one of the most common symptoms. For some the itch is mild;
others have intense itching that can interfere with everyday
life and cause them to lose sleep.
scalp psoriasis can be very itchy, almost everyone scratches.
This can cause the scalp to bleed. Scratching also injures the
skin, which tends to worsen the psoriasis. This is why
dermatologists tell their patients “Try not to scratch your
Burning sensation or
soreness. The scalp can burn. It can feel extremely sore.
Temporary hair loss.
Scratching the scalp a lot or forcefully removing scale can
cause hair loss. Once the scalp psoriasis clears, hair usually
These signs and symptoms can
come and go. Some people have only one mild flare. Others experience
flare-ups that range in intensity, with some flare-ups being milder
than other flare-ups. Many things can trigger a flare-up, including
stress, cold, and a dry environment.
Scalp Psoriasis can be Controlled
Scalp psoriasis causes many people to feel uncomfortable and
embarrassed. There are many safe and effective treatments. A
dermatologist can tell you what can help control your scalp
Van de Kerkhof PCM and Schalkwijk J. “Psoriasis.” In Bolognia JL,
Jorizzo JL, Rapini et al. [editors]. Dermatology.
Spain. Mosby Elsevier; 2008. p. 122.
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Good News About Scalp Psoriasis