How Is Scalp Psoriasis Treated?

When your dermatologist diagnoses scalp psoriasis as the cause for your scalp itchiness, red patches on your scalp and other scalp symptoms, your doctor will recommend a course of treatment to help improve the symptoms of scalp psoriasis for your comfort and wellness.

Here are some of the most common forms of treatments for scalp psoriasis:

Topical Treatments

Most often, your dermatologist will start your treatment regimen with a topical treatment that applies medication directly to your skin. These may be medicated shampoos, ointments, creams, gels, oils and special soaps for scalp psoriasis. Some of these topical treatments may be available over-the-counter, and other forms may be in stronger, prescription formulas.

Prescriptions for scalp psoriasis medications will likely have higher concentrations of FDA-approved formulas than the ones found in over-the-counter scalp psoriasis treatments. These medications may include:

  • Anthralin, which is a prescription medication that has been around for a long time
  • Antimicrobials, which treat bacterial or yeast infections that can come with scalp psoriasis
  • Calcipotriene, a strong derivative  of vitamin D
  • Calcipotriene and betamethasone dipropionate, a poweful steroid
  • Other topical steroids
  • Tazarotene, a derivative of vitamin A

In order to be a most effective form of treatment for scalp psoriasis, the above medications must be applied directly to your scalp, not applied to your hair like a dandruff shampoo is most often used. Always apply your medications exactly as directed, never applying more than your doctor prescribes to help heal your skin faster, since some medications (like steroid) cannot be overdone.

Once your skin has healed, which can take 8 weeks or more, follow your dermatologist’s advice on treatments to prevent scalp psoriasis re-occurrences. You may be advised to apply a daily or several times weekly medicated shampoo, for instance. And if you find that cold and dry air aggravates your scalp psoriasis, keep a close eye out for the first signs of redness, patches or flakes so that you will have an easier time of treating this new beginning flare-up.

Office Treatments

If your scalp psoriasis doesn’t respond well to topical treatments, your doctor may advise in-office treatments (and may do so as well if you only have a very mild case of scalp psoriasis.) These in-office treatments may include:

  • Injections of medication, most often steroid medications, directly into your affected skin areas
  • Phototherapy with a laser or non-laser light source, which focuses high-intensity light on affected areas while avoiding healthy skin around your affected areas. Ultraviolet (UV) light –may be delivered with a hand-held device to treat the entire scalp.

Medications for Severe Scalp Psoriasis

If your case of scalp psoriasis is moderate to severe, your dermatologist may prescribe an oral medication regimen, or deliver medication via a needle into your vein.

Oral medications may include:

  • Corticosteroids
  • Cyclosporine
  • Methotrexate
  • A strong form of vitamin A, called a ‘derivative’
  • A derivative of Vitamin D

It’s important to know that these medications can cause side effects, sometimes severe side effects, so it’s important to follow your doctor’s orders about checkups, and keep your doctor informed of any side effects you might experience.

And also know that the mentioned derivatives of Vitamins A and D are not the supplements you might buy in a drug store or grocery store. Regular-strength Vitamins a and D will not be powerful enough to treat your scalp psoriasis symptoms. Derivative forms of A and D are the ones that will most likely help improve your condition effectively.

And then there are the FDA-approved medications you may have seen psoriasis commercials for, ones delivered to you by IV in the doctor’s office, These drugs work by helping your skin avoid creating too many skin cells, which adds to psoriasis problems. Some of the most common biologics include the American Academy of Dermatology’s list of potentially effective medications:

  • Alefacept (Amevive)
  • Efalizumab (Raptiva)
  • Etanercept (Enbrel)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Ustekinumab (Stelara)

While there is no true cure for scalp psoriasis, many treatments can help lessen your symptoms, control flare-ups, and lessen the duration of scalp psoriasis flare-ups when they do occur.

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