Understanding Scalp Psoriasis: Key Signs And Treatments

Understanding the signs and causes of scalp psoriasis, along with exploring new treatment options, can significantly enhance the management and quality of life for those affected.


Early identification and treatment of scalp psoriasis are essential for managing this chronic skin condition effectively.

What is Scalp Psoriasis?

Scalp psoriasis is a common form of psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune condition that accelerates skin cell production, leading to the formation of scales and inflamed patches on the scalp.

Key Characteristics of Scalp Psoriasis

  • Appearance: Red patches covered with thick, silvery scales on the scalp.
  • Common Areas: Hairline, back of the neck, behind the ears.
  • Symptoms: Itching, burning, and soreness around the patches, possible hair loss.

Signs and Causes of Scalp Psoriasis

Red PatchesRed patches covered with silvery scales on the scalp
Flaky SkinDandruff-like flaking, sometimes in larger scales
Itching and BurningPersistent itching or a burning sensation in affected areas
Dryness and CrackingSkin that may bleed or crack easily
Hair LossTemporary hair loss in areas affected by severe scaling and inflammation

Causes of Scalp Psoriasis

The exact cause of scalp psoriasis is not fully understood, but it involves a combination of genetic, environmental, and immune system factors.

Genetic Factors

  • Family History: Individuals with a family history of psoriasis are at higher risk.
  • Gene Mutations: Specific gene mutations have been linked to the condition.

Environmental Triggers

  • Infections: Streptococcal throat infections can trigger flare-ups.
  • Stress: High stress levels can exacerbate symptoms.
  • Skin Injuries: Cuts, scrapes, or sunburns can initiate new lesions.
  • Weather: Cold, dry weather can worsen symptoms.

Immune System

  • Autoimmune Response: The immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, accelerating their production.

New Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis

Recent advancements have significantly improved the treatment landscape for scalp psoriasis, providing more effective and targeted therapies.

Topical Treatments

Topical treatments are often the first line of defense for mild to moderate scalp psoriasis.

  • Corticosteroids: Reduce inflammation and slow skin cell turnover.
  • Vitamin D Analogues: Such as calcipotriene, help to slow down skin cell production.
  • Coal Tar: Helps to reduce scaling, itching, and inflammation.
  • Salicylic Acid: Helps to remove scales and reduce inflammation.

Systemic Treatments

Systemic treatments are used for more severe cases and include oral or injectable medications that affect the whole body.

  • Methotrexate: Reduces skin cell production and inflammation.
  • Cyclosporine: Suppresses the immune system to slow down skin cell production.
  • Acitretin: A retinoid that normalizes skin cell growth.

Biologic Therapies

Biologics are a class of drugs derived from living organisms that target specific parts of the immune system. They are administered through injections or infusions.

  • TNF-alpha Inhibitors: Such as etanercept and infliximab, block tumor necrosis factor-alpha, reducing inflammation.
  • Interleukin Inhibitors: Target specific interleukins (IL-17, IL-23) involved in the inflammatory process, examples include secukinumab and ustekinumab.

Chart: New Treatments for Scalp Psoriasis

Treatment TypeExamplesMechanism of ActionAdministration
Topical TreatmentsCorticosteroids, CalcipotrieneReduce inflammation, slow skin cell turnover, remove scalesTopical (shampoo/cream)
Systemic TreatmentsMethotrexate, CyclosporineAffect whole body to reduce skin cell production and inflammationOral/Injectable
Biologic TherapiesEtanercept, InfliximabTarget specific immune system componentsInjection/Infusion
Interleukin InhibitorsSecukinumab, UstekinumabBlock specific interleukins (IL-17, IL-23)Injection

Professional Analysis

Effective management of scalp psoriasis involves a combination of treatments tailored to individual needs. The choice of treatment depends on the severity of the condition, location of the plaques, and patient preference.

Impact of Biologics

Biologic therapies have revolutionized the treatment of moderate to severe scalp psoriasis. They provide targeted action with fewer systemic side effects compared to traditional systemic therapies. Patients on biologics often experience significant improvement in skin clearance and quality of life.

Role of Systemic Treatments

Systemic treatments, such as methotrexate and cyclosporine, are effective for severe cases that do not respond to topical treatments. These drugs offer comprehensive control over symptoms but require careful monitoring for side effects.

Importance of Early Detection

Early detection and treatment are crucial in managing scalp psoriasis. Prompt intervention can prevent the condition from worsening and reduce the risk of developing associated conditions such as psoriatic arthritis.

Q&A Section

Q: What is the most common symptom of scalp psoriasis? A: The most common symptom is red patches of skin covered with thick, silvery scales, often accompanied by itching and discomfort.

Q: Are biologics safe for long-term use? A: Biologics are generally considered safe for long-term use, but they require regular monitoring by a healthcare professional to manage potential side effects and ensure continued effectiveness.

Q: Can lifestyle changes help manage scalp psoriasis? A: Yes, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy diet, reducing stress, and avoiding triggers like smoking and excessive alcohol consumption can help manage symptoms.


  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/psoriasis/symptoms-causes/syc-20355840
  2. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis